One of the most difficult designs I have ever had to do. It had to serve two very difficult and specific masters. Be a convincing 40s dress, and then change to an 18th century shift, two completely different structures. Plus to make it even more fun, the season for the show changed to autumn instead of spring, as it was in the book.
At least if it had been spring, I could have had Claire in a cotton voile or even a lightweight linen dress.
But in the fall, in cold rainy Scotland, my options got even narrower.
I will never LOVE this dress, but that is okay. It did it’s job very well I think, and sometimes it just has to be about practicality not beauty, just like in real life.
Here is a picture of an 18th century linen shift.
So THIS is what I designed…
…to end up like this when Claire meets up with the Highlanders and Colum comments that his brother said she was running around the countryside in her shift. (not in some alien short garment). We have to believe that everyone buys that Claire is not an alien from the future and instead is a woman wandering about in her undergarments.
So there you go.
Shape Shifting. Here are a few of the ideas and shapes I played with while figuring it all out.
the hardest part came when Ron made it Autumn!! Then none of these could work.
Connie has asked a question that readers may find interesting_
“And on a practical note, how much time did Caitriona actually spend in the “shift” on horseback and how did you protect her legs from chafing / getting rubbed bloody? I always wear full length jeans when I’m on a horse because there are so many pieces of tack that can rub one raw in a variety of places.”
We try to be as authentic as we can, but there is a limit to what you can put an actor through, especially when it is not SEEN on camera. There has been much written about what Cait had to go through while filming in the shift. It really was incredible, dead of winter in Scotland, freezing rain while wearing a thin crepe shift.
So that our lead actress would not end up in hospital, we spend a lot of time and effort doing everything possible to take care of her. She has layers of flesh colored high tech clothing under that shift, and shorts to protect her thighs. I was not on set much, as we were careening madly, trying to get clothes designed and made, but my guess is that there was also protection on that saddle.
We kept her full of hot soup and hot tea, enormous down coats on when not filming, but at the end of the day, it was just a very strong, brave woman who went out every day in awful conditions, and got the job done.