Saturday, April 09, 2016

Better Bets by Rhonda Erb

Outlander at Saks Fifth Avenue

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan
Photo: Rhonda Erb

“They’re here!” squealed the throng outside New York’s Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store. They had just caught their first glimpse of Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, who star in the popular television series, “Outlander”, as they arrived on 50th Street. Loyal fans of the Starz television series, many of them from out of town, had been waiting patiently for hours on a rain soaked Thursday afternoon, to see this TV couple that they so adore (as if on cue, the sun started to peak thru the clouds when they arrived). The occasion was a collaboration between Saks Fifth Avenue and Starz to celebrate the “Outlander” Season 2 premiere. To mark this highly anticipated event, Saks unveiled six window scenes; featuring “Outlander” curated looks, in their 50th Street store windows.

Costume Designer Terry Dresbach
Photo: Rhonda Erb

Balfe and Heughan were accompanied at the event by “Outlander” Executive Producer, Ronald D. Moore and his wife Terry Dresbach, the costume designer for the series, as well as Saks executives Mark Briggs and Tracy Margolies. “Outlander” is based on a series of books by Diana Gabaldon. It’s a time travel saga in which the character that Balfe portrays is transported from post World War II Scotland to the 1700’s. The elaborate period costumes worn by the show’s characters have created such a sensation with viewers that designer Dresbach has her own following of fans as well.

Mark Briggs
Photo Rhonda Erb

Briggs, Saks Executive Vice President, Creative Center for Excellence, spoke about how the partnership between Saks and Starz came about:

“For many years, Saks has always been known for its experiences. The idea of actually bringing fashion with experience together, theater, is really what Saks is about. This collaboration came along about a year ago. It was a perfect fit, especially from the point of view of the fashion fit. So mixing the traditional values of what you see beautifully recreated here, with the more modern fashions, you can start to see them being seen and the influences of these gowns in today’s fashions. So that’s a wonderful story to tell. It worked perfectly for our Magalog. It worked perfectly for the trends and the designers that we wanted to feature in the Magalog as well and that’s where I think that marriage was a perfect fit.”

Saks "Outlander" window
(Click window images for larger views)
All window photos: Rhonda Erb

The publication that Briggs is referring to is Saks Fifth Avenue’s Spring 2016 Magalog which features Balfe and Heughan on its covers. Tracy Margolies, Chief Merchant at Saks Fifth Avenue, talked about the issue:

Front cover featuring Caitriona wearing Gucci

“We’re so proud of our front cover, here we have Caitriona wearing Gucci, Alessandro Michele’s collection; and on the backside we have Sam wearing Gucci as well. So this goes to all our stores and all our customers.  We’re really proud of this collaboration; we’re really thrilled that they look fantastic in Gucci.”

Saks window
As Balfe and Heughan walked the red carpet, they smiled and waved at the predominantly female crowd and even posed for pictures with some of their lucky admirers. Balfe reflected on her role as Claire, in “Outlander” and the positive relationship that she has with her fans:

“You hope as an actor that you get a role with some substance and some complexity and I think Claire is that and more. As a woman it’s wonderful to play a woman that resonates with people and inspires people and she is inspirational to me. So, I think it’s very important and the more we have strong female characters on TV or in film, you know, the better for everyone.”

Balfe then looked at her costar, Heughan, and said, “Right?” “Absolutely” he replied with a smile. 

Saks window

Balfe, who was wearing a Dior Dress and Jimmy Choo shoes and carrying a clutch by Dee Ocleppo, also gave hints as to how her character’s wardrobe will evolve from the heavy fabrics of a hard working nurse in Season 1 to the “sumptuous” clothes of the French court of Louis XV in Season 2. Costume designer, Dresbach gives more details on the costume changes:

“Well they are way more outrageous. The colors, the embroidery, the embellishment, I mean the 18th Century in Paris is the center of fashion for the world. So we just went for broke in every possible way. I think the most interesting thing is that for Claire’s costumes, we really wanted to keep her attached to the 1940’s. So I went to what was going on in 1945 and 1946 in Paris, which is Christian Dior and “The New Look” and so we used that as our jumping off point. At the very end, you’ll see our recreation of the most famous garment ever made, which is the Bar Suit. The first time we see Claire, she is wearing that, and that was our inspiration for season 2, so you’ll see tones of Balmain and Balenciaga and all these designers… so she’s a little bit a stranger in a strange land. She never quite feels like she is from the 18th Century.  That’s where we had a lot of fun.  That’s really exciting.”

Season 2 of the Starz Original Series, “Outlander” premieres on April 9th, at 9:00PM (EST). The Saks Fifth Avenue “Outlander” curated windows will be on display at Saks New York and Beverly Hills until April 11, 2016.

-Rhonda Erb
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