As many of you will know, I am a die-hard Mad Men fan, and in August I bid on Betty Draper’s blue Monarch makeup case from the set of Mad Men, when 1500 items were auctioned off through Screen Bid at the end of the final season of the show. I bid on and won 3 items from the set during the auction, 2 of which are genuine vintage items and 1 a prop. I will post the other 2 items from Mad Men in future, but in the meantime, here she is: the blue makeup case used on screen by January Jones in the iconic role of Betty Draper, the stylish and ultimately frustrated wife of Donald Draper, and mother of his children. She is in many ways a misunderstood character.
SPOILER: In her final scene we saw Betty Draper smoking and sitting at her kitchen table as Mrs Francis, resigned to, or bravely accepting her fate, while her second husband cannot accept the grim prognosis of her doctors. As my mother died of cancer at 43 when I was a girl, I was moved by the portrayal. When the series ended, January Jones posted an image of Betty from her infamous ‘birds’ moment, with the words: ‘Please remember her like this. Strong. Proud. And Afraid. She is everything I wish I could be.’
According to Matthew Weiner, January Jones gave ‘one of the most remarkable auditions I’ve ever seen,’ when she auditioned for Betty. For her work on Mad Men she received two Golden Globe nominations and one Emmy nomination.
Betty Draper’s case is a genuine late fifties/early sixties Monarch makeup travel case with a charm on the handle, and it is in good working vintage condition. It joins two 1960s vintage makeup cases, one a brown Coronet and one a white, unbranded case. I plan to use Betty’s blue case, while treating her with care. She takes pride of place in my newly completed boudoir, which is built with new and salvaged materials, and timber from a tree that fell in our yard in a severe storm when my daughter was just a few months old.
To celebrate the arrival of Betty’s case from America, my husband took some photos in our yard, on the way to a date night. I’m no Betty but I think she’d appreciate that her case went to a vintage lover.
Above and below: I’m wearing a Pin Up Couture Ava dress from Misconduct, hair flowers found at a vintage market, vintage 1950s navy gloves, old Moschino shoes, the pearl studs my late mother was married in, and a brooch from Erstwilder.
Below: With my daughter Sapphira and our cherry blossom tree:
As with a lot of vintage items, the case arrived with some light stains that I was able to easily clean with warm water and a cloth. The original keys are missing, but it does open to reveal the original mirror and trays, all of which need a bit of love. The case came with a certificate of authenticity, as seen above. I am thrilled to have it in my collection.
All photographs are by Berndt Sellheim.
Words by Tara Moss AKA Victory.
Related: Check out this 2009 interview and series of marvellous photographs of Mad Men’s Jon Hamm and January Jones by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair. This image, below, for example, is reminiscent of the famous Helmut Newton photograph ‘Woman Examining Man’ featured in The Fictional Woman, though Betty appears too preoccupied with her troubles to examine her shirtless husband.
Yes, there is only one Betty Draper.