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Wednesday
Oct222014

Threads - New Series!

In order to indulge more of TFE's fetish for costume design, in this new Wednesday series "Threads" we'll discuss (briefly) whichever single costume we're most obsessed with that week, from anywhere in time and any filmed medium. Let's begin with a look from Outlander, currently airing on Starz.

I know this will be very shocking and quite impossible to believe if you haven't yet seen the show, but THIS bandage fetish wear on fantasy-man Jamie (Sam Heughan) is not the best costume on display however enticing it may be...

Nor is it the much ballyhooed wedding dress from the 7th episode "The Wedding" (8 having aired to date so get in early if you can) 

Okay maybe it is the wedding dress. It has metal embroidery. I mean...

 

this is going above and beyond, don't you think? The series is just full of incredible looks and apparently the knitting community online has adopted it as The Greatest Thing To Have Ever Happened.  

[Tangential but quite related] The IMDb credits for this show in terms of costuming are very confusing. Terry Dresbach has been giving interviews on the matter of costumes in the series but IMDb implies that she's only costumed one episode. Nevertheless she shares "Series Costume Designer" credit with Glenne Campbell (also only identified by one episode per IMDb). And the costume department has an additional 8 people only two of whom are identified as having done all episodes and those are "trainees"? This is a wonky tangent I know but does anyone else find IMDb's credit system for television series highly confusing? It's like their system was built for single story movies and then they started covering TV (for which credits can vary every episode even for the same program) and even video games and now it's just an unholy mess. [/Tangent]

But, for whatever reason, the costume I can't stop thinking about was this autumnal/wintry travel wear worn by the heroine Claire for the very romantic purpose of tax collecting. I can't find a good photo of it online so you'll have to trust me that it's gloriously sleek and beautiful though you'd think it would be bulky and these stills will have to do.

The fine actress Caitriona Balfe is something like a Keira or a Nicole in the sense that literally everything she wears is instantly transformed into high fashion. This makes her incongruously modern within her surroundings more often than not but that's appropriate since Claire Beacham is a woman out of time (long story) suddenly living in 18th century Scotland with a 20th century woman's knowledge of medicine, sex, history, and couture catwalks.

Watching her stroll around poverty stricken villages in outfits like this while doing old world things like chewing on legs of chicken and, um, pissing in a bucket... has a crazy enjoyable dissonance. I am not a fan of fur so I pretend everything's fake but I haven't wanted a second ice age to strike the world so badly since the first time I saw Julie Christie in winter hats in Doctor Zhivago. 

NEXT WEEK ON THREADS: Who knows!  We're just going to go with the muse.

P.S. I could do without Outlander's romance novel narration and the just plain corny mysticism of the opening credits but otherwise the costume drama is surprisingly good: complicated, political, sexy (which it totally earns rather than grasps at desperately) and feminist... as befits a series from Ronald D. Moore previously of Sci-Fi's much-missed Battlestar Galactica reboot who is, I'm delighted to discover as I'm writing this, married to the costume designer Terry Dresbach! 

 

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Reader Comments (8)

Thanks for the shot of that strangely lovely embroidery and that equally lovely chest, I mean the firm bandaged male one. I'll keep an eye out for this series, since I loved "Battlestar" (though I sort of loathed what I saw of "Caprica"). IMDb is multiply irritating. I go crazy when I look at their photographs and the names are not listed according to their appearance in the photograph from left to right but in some circuitous way I haven't the patience to understand.

October 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterOwen Walter

Great idea for a regular series. Any chance of a piece on the new Academy costume exhibit in LA?

October 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCorey

Le Pacte des Loups or Far from Heaven. Two of my favorite costume jobs.

October 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

The actress came from a pretty legit high-fashion modeling career, so that could be the reason. Her acting credits are so modest in comparison, and yet she's carrying the show on her back and holding her own against older incredible actors like a champ.

October 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

I keep meaning to watch this - I'll definitely check it out now.

October 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

Jamie's bare chest with bandages bring to mind Michelangelo's (3?) statues titled Slaves. There is something familiar in the bodies and on one in particular the bonds resemble J's bandages. The artist surely knew the contrast of strong body and bonds (or bandages) drew the eye and helped create sympathy for the subject.

October 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJulia Kennedy

Outlander is visually stunning - the Scottish highlands, set design, and costumes combine to give us an authentic reality of another place and time. I'm amazed by the artistry and painstaking attention to detail from the costume department. It's a testament to the passion that Terry Dresbach and her team as true fans of the book series. Terry has a blog that is rich in details and behind the scenes info: http://www.terrydresbach.com/

November 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMimi

The chief embroiderer on the show is Liz Boulton. She's going to start getting her own credit line, I understand. She is amazing.

November 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterConnie Sandlin

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