It’s officially Foreigner time! The Season 5 premiere dropped early on Valentine’s Day, bringing us into a new era of history with Claire (Caitriona Balfre) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) fighting for their home and family on Fraser’s. Ridge. If waiting an entire week between episodes is just too much for you, there’s another way to indulge your love of the show: costume designer Terry Dresbach’s personal blog.
Dresbach’s designs are, arguably, among the most exciting elements on Foreigner, and they have been called “the least patriarchal costumes on television.” Custom-made for each scene, they range from the relatively staid – like the cape Claire sewed herself before returning to 18th century Scotland from the 1960s – to downright outrageous, like the famous ‘swan dress’ bare chest seen on Madame Nesle de la Tourelle (Kimberly Smart).
Carefully handmade, the costumes are valued between $ 20,000 and $ 25,000 each. Drawing inspiration from author Diana Gabaldon’s descriptions in the books, Dresbach brings each creation to life with the help of a team that searches for hard-to-find textiles, adds thousands upon thousands of beads, embroidery and hand painted details. Dresbach is also married to the show’s executive producer Ronald D. Moore, so she has the advantage of knowing the nuances of upcoming scenes well in advance.
The costume designer revealed She that she left the company some time ago because she was so fed up with the imperative of making every costume sexy, adding, “As a woman and a feminist, I got really sick of it and I left the company. So come back for Foreigner was a really interesting trip for me. I only did it because Ron was at the helm, and I knew I wouldn’t have to play in those tired old courts.
On her blog, Dresbach reveals her thought process behind some of the show’s most stand-out pieces, like Claire’s incredible red dress from Season 2. Many of her posts include her digital mood boards, details about the garment making (in this case it took fifteen yards of Duchess satin), and inside information about its use in the show (this dress, and many others, barely fit in Caitriona’s dressing room!).
Of the dress Claire wore in France, Dresbach writes, “We didn’t even have an embroidery team at that point at the very start of the first season. But Liz Boulton had told me about her talent as a historic embroiderer. I asked if she could embroider a petticoat to match the piece of old fabric, and we ended up with a very soft dress. It was perfect to start a new life in France.
Other characters are also due, like Master Raymond with his incredible embroidered pharmacist’s coat, which Dresbach said she had been looking forward to for a long time. “I thought I would like to tell a story about his work. Thus, two images illustrate the principles of alchemy. The tree of knowledge and the hand of mysteries.
“The other two are diseases and the herbs that cured them. We decided to represent the disease with a monster, after finding a fantastic array of monsters while doing some research. The bird represents yellow fever, placing its yellow claw in the eye. One of the symptoms of yellow fever was that the white of the eye turned bright yellow. The other sign is gout. A delicious Gout monster gnaws at the inflamed foot.
You can watch both new and old episodes of Foreigner on the Starz network.