The arrival of Outlander Season 2 promised epic, over-the-top costumes thanks to its new setting in 18th century Paris. In last night's new episode of the time-traveling drama, we finally see the extravagant fashions of the French court in all their glory. Since Jamie and Claire Fraser (Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe) spend the entire first season of the series wading through the Scottish Highlands in muted tones, this departure has been a fun one to watch.
We caught up with Outlander's costume designer, Terry Dresbach, who gave us the scoop on all things Parisian high society. "We had a mandate to make Season 2 as fantastic and over-the-top as possible," she tells InStyle. "It's a fashion show and it's not very often that a fashion show is part of the story. I usually resist having costumes overwhelm the story, but to have it be part of it is a lot of fun. It lets you just play and have a good time, while still holding on to the job, which is to support the characters. It's a visual feast."
As for last night's looks, the Frasers receive a covetable invitation to Versailles thanks to Claire's new friend, Louise de Rohan (Claire Sermonne). They use that time to seek out the court's treasurer, who ultimately funds the rebellion, in hopes they can persuade him in another direction. He has other ideas on his mind though (like attempting to seduce Claire). Of course, a visit to Versailles means they must dress to impress!
Dresbach breaks down the best looks from Episode 2 below, from the outfit that was most requested by fans to the one that epitomizes Parisian court fashion at the time. After scrolling through, tune in to Starz every Saturday at 9 P.M. ET for new episodes of Outlander!
1. Claire's First Parisian Look
"It's the first time we see her in Paris and I really wanted it to make a statement," costume designer Terry Dresbach tells InStyle. "Let us never forget that this is Claire and she's a woman of the '40s. This costume announces what's to come of her clothes in Paris. They all have a very '40s feel and then the world that surrounds her is very 18th century, so she really stands out."
2. Claire's Epic Red Dress
"It's one of those iconic book moments," Dresbach explains. "It's definitely a fan favorite. I studied red dresses of the 1940s and found my inspiration there. They're simple and they let the red itself be the decoration as opposed to piling on a ton of lace and ribbons and bows. That would be too overwhelming for her. We wanted Claire to be the decoration and kept the rest very simple." As for the size of the dress? "It's 15 yards of fabric. It's so powerful just in its architecture and the statement that the color makes."
3. Louise de Rohan's Traditional Versailles Look
"Louise's costumes had to be the pinnacle of Parisian court fashion, which was highly decorated and embellished," she says. "She is everything that Claire is not. We just kept adding more lace, more jewels, and more everything to that costume. Louise is a key to the women's costumes of that time—highly ornate and very fluffy, with every bit of decor that you could possibly put on a costume. It's the opposite of Jamie and Claire."
4. Jamie Fraser's First Fancy Outfit"I imagine Jamie in a French court salon where they're making clothes for him and there's no way he's agreeing to a lavender suit with gold lace," Dresbach says. "That character is not going to want to wear that. It's too distracting and doesn't fit who he is. He's like Claire in that respect. I imagine him saying 'I don't want lavender, but do you have anything in black?' So that's where we went with Jamie. We put him in an elegant black suit with a white shirt. We kept him very simple and monochromatic."
5. King Louis XV's Gold Garb
"This costume is Liberace meets Elvis meets Prince," she explains. "You can't put enough on them, they can't be more over the top. I knew I wanted him in gold. There's a painting of one of the kings wearing this beautiful embroidered gold suit and I knew that it was the ultimate in wealth and luxury so we found this amazing gold fabric and embroidered every inch of it. It is a really spectacular, ornate costume—completely over the top."