The Frame

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'Mad Men': Here are the SoCal purveyors that supplied the show's vintage props, clothes

by Robert Garrova | The Frame

Playclothes Vintage Fashions in Burbank — where 'Mad Men' shopped. Katherine Garrova

“Mad Men,” the lauded AMC show that’s been a big part of what many call the latest golden age of television, wraps its story on Sunday after taking viewers on a nostalgic trip through the 1960s and early 1970s. 

Millions of viewers have been seduced not just by the show’s sophisticated writing and too-good-for-TV performances, but also by all that ‘60s ... well, stuff: The cars, the clothes, the sets, the props that conjure the style, look and feel of an American era.

It may surprise fans to learn that many of those things are real, not knockoffs — and they're sourced right here in Southern California, where the show is produced (though it's set in New York). Dozens of businesses all over Southern California became regular stops for the set decorators, wardrobe people and prop masters who work on the show.

Want to duplicate "Mad Men's" look? Here's where to go.

Classic cars

Johnny Agnew of Funky Junk Farms 

“Now if you go on eBay, the keywords for a lot of, particularly fashion — even cars and travel trailers, which is what I’m into — they always use 'Mad Men,'" says Johnny Agnew of Funky Junk Farms. "It’s definitely iconic for sure."

Agnew rents out vintage cars and travel trailers for movie shoots, and TV shows like “Mad Men.” If you come across a ‘66 Oldsmobile four-door sedan in a “Mad Men” episode, it might be his.

Don Draper's office

“The very first thing that I recognized was a big blue pillow that was in Don Draper’s office,” says Susan Kotora, who has a shop at the Pasadena Antique Center and sold several items to the show.

Kotora says "Mad Men" crew members were welcome customers.

“These guys came in, and it really was a shot in the arm,” she says. “It kind of boosted sales. Because I think so much of the economy in L.A. has been affected — we’ve lost so much of the film industry here.”

Vintage fashions

Wanda Soileau, who runs Playclothes Vintage Fashions in Burbank, got the “Mad Men” bump, too. But she says you can’t always see some of the pieces she sold to the show.

“One of the interesting things is the undergarments,” Soileau says. “Maybe they’d put an actress in a girdle with stockings so that the actress would feel the part and feel like she was from that era instead of having pantyhose on like women wear today.”

Household appliances

Carolina Mendez provided some of the vintage household appliances you’ve seen in “Mad Men.”

“I’m a good finder when it comes to someone looking for something that I don’t have in my inventory,” Mendez says. “Most of the time I find exactly what they’re looking for.”

Mendez's showroom for Carolina’s Appliances in East L.A. is a splash of color, with bright red refrigerators and glossy, teal-enameled ranges. But Mendez says the “Mad Men” crew were usually looking for something a little more worn in.

“Most of the time they’re looking for something in the original cosmetic condition,” Mendez says. “They rarely look for something fully restored.”

Vintage frames

Russ Campbell, owner of vintage eyewear supplier Old Focals, is no stranger to the TV and film industry. But, thanks in part to “Mad Men,” Campbell has seen interest in his business spread globally.

“‘Mad Men’ was responsible for us getting picked up in French tourism books,” Campbell says.

An early supporter of the show, Campbell provided “Mad Men” prop masters with not only antique frames, but also with historically accurate information on the eyewear styles of the '60s and '70s.

If Campbell’s name is familiar, it might be because you’ve see it in the show’s credits. Back before “Mad Men” was a household name, Campbell would provide his services in exchange for a credit instead of money.  

“Every year they would give me the longest credit in Hollywood, saying ‘Eyewear provided by Russ Campbell at Old Focals in Pasadena, California,’” Campbell says.

But, Campbell says, even after the final credits roll for the final episode, “Mad Men” will linger on.

“I don’t think it’s ever gonna be over. Because if you’ve got seven years of a series like this, let’s just say it won’t get lost in space,” says Campbell “I think it’s always gonna be with us.”

The series finale of "Mad Men" airs on AMC Sunday at 10 p.m. 

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