Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Louise – Versailles


Outlander Season 2 2016

Louise was absolutely essential to our entire structure. She was actually a cornerstone.

I set a very public goal before we ever started filming Outlander. To be as authentic as possible. Of course you can never be truly authentic. There is no way to make thousands of garments by hand, in the time we have. We can’t use actual 18th century materials, in short we are making costumes, not reproductions. But I did not want to present a contemporary view of history. As I say over and over, “History is pretty good, just as it is! It needs no help from us.”

But we knew that we were going to play this time travel note with Claire. The ONLY way that works is if the world around her is very, very true to the period. Otherwise it is just a mess. We lose all accuracy, and Claire’s message gets completely lost in the jumble. Louise (and Mary) are the female supporting characters, they are Parisians. They MUST be absolutely SPOT ON.

Louise’s character really lends itself well to the task. A somewhat vapid coquette, a member of the Parisian Aristocracy, she is an 18th Century fashionista of the first order. She can carry the water. Louise can define Parisian fashion for us, and create a backdrop for Claire. She is our contrast.

We looked to some really spectacular gowns worn by Madame Pompadour and other ladies of the French Court.



One of the costumes we do that with is her Versailles gown. I chose the most flagrant fabric I could find. A wildly sensual embroidered silk. the colours on it are outrageous.


Trying to remember the name…something Peony. Very Chinoiserie, which was an influence of the period through the silk trade.

The most fun thing about the gown was that no matter HOW MUCH we threw at the gown, it just absorbed it. Bows, furbelows, lace, flowers, jewels, nothing was too much for this dress. I think we could have added even more but had to stop at some point.

It is rare to have so many great pictures of one costume, but the publicity dept. shot this from every possible angle. Fantastic. I have added a few more, so keep scrolling, there are a zillion pictures. I think the best thing is just to post them all. I guess this dress really can never be too much.


Outlander Season 2 Gallery Pictured: Claire Sermonne as Louise de Rohan Photo: Jason Bell/Starz/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television






Furbelow construction –







IMG_1034 (1)

Voila! Louise.

28 thoughts on “Louise – Versailles

    1. jwachel

      This dress is amazing. Any student could learn so many techniques just by using your photos. I am going to share with my young cousin who loves fashion, has her own blog and will be graduating from Penn State shortly. Thank you so much for sharing with us. Your hard work and attention to detail makes the show visually spectacular and the angles and lighting Ron uses to film the characters in your creations is genius. This series is a dream come true. I just love it.

  1. angelasassoinlondon

    It is an astounding dress. And you are right, now matter what you add to it – it just absorbs all the flounce.
    One question I have for you…when you order the fabrics – do you specifically order the fabrics for specific characters or do you order what you think you might use and then figure it out as you go along? So did you know that fabric was for Louise when you ordered it?

    I’m looking forward to seeing BPC’s costumes – he seems to have as many changes as the women! Andrew Gower is TERRIFIC!

    1. Terry Dresbach Post author

      It is different for every costume. We have a fabric room where we stock tons of fabrics, and try to pull from there when we design.
      But I often want something very specific. I searched out THIS fabric FOR Louise.

  2. ellenchristine

    Transfixed, standing in front of this gown in the Saks Fifth Avenue window in NYC. Bending, crouching, trying to see every possible angle, like a kid in front of the proverbial candy shop , and still didn’t see the BACK!!! Matching! oh, you guys.
    One wonders what a fanfrelouche might have been, and then you see this gown! Any angle, a miracle of concept and execution. A gown for a woman who might have married a King. (If he had been King. And if they could have married…..) Fit for a Queen, just as La Pompadour viewed herself. A poem in courtly beauty. A symphony to accompany the painting of a Fragonard. A wonder. And a joy for any costumer who gets a chance to see it in person, as in person even behind a glass, it’s a glimpse into your universe.

  3. pdxknitterati

    This gown is exquisite from all angles. The graduated bows on the front: That neckline is more daring than it appears at first glance. Ooh-la-la! And the perfect matching of the peony and scrollwork on the back…such attention to detail. But my question: How does one actually put this on? Where is the opening? Thank you for your beautiful work. It adds so much to the show.

  4. dancerdf

    There can’t be too many pictures of this dress! It’s so detailed and there are so many layers to discover, it’s like a treasure. Love everything about it, from the fabric to the bows.

  5. hopeandmemory

    This dress is absolutely stunning. I was hoping you would do a post about it! I really feel like it stole the show for that episode, even though Claire was wearing the red dress. I loved the red dress, but something about how this dress handles all of its ornamentation is really remarkable. Well done!!

  6. Pingback: Louise – Versailles — Terry Dresbach – The Bonnie Kilt

  7. sooz180

    One of the reasons I watch each episode is so I can take in all of the glorious costumes. From Claire and Louise and Jamie to the footman on the coach, they are all so fascinating and gorgeous to look at. This dress for Louise is one of my favorites so far. Amazing. You and your team deaerve to win every award out there this year. Thank you for giving us such eye candy to look at each week!

  8. tinygoldenpins

    To say that I’m enjoying these posts about all the costumes so far in Season 2 is such an understatement. I love everything about it: the source fabric, the historical details, the things you did to deviate. It’s a home sewer’s dream come true!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE your work — I am not worthy.

  9. woolfarmgal

    This dress screams 18th century Paris! Hard to drink in all the details. Claire is an elegant English Rose and Louise a flamboyant scented garden.

  10. Sophie Slim

    Amazing! This is really low cut! How does everyone not show off their nipples?! So many details in one gown! This must cost thooousands of dollars in fabric alone! Im in awe! Outlander really has re-inspired me for the love of fabric! x

  11. edie3

    Bravo!!! I am amazed and so happy to see the details and learn about their making. The colors, the scale, the match w character…. Also I’m watching the Outlander contagion into this spring and fall’s fashion trends w the applied decoration, florals, embroidery, etc. It just shows how powerful the pen of one woman can ultimately be. Thank you Terry for bringing the attire to life and sharing the making of with us.

  12. larrouxgirl

    Breathtaking, literally. You are spot-on. That gown encapsulates Louise in a single garment. Take a deep breath of pride and satisfaction.

  13. M&M

    Close up this is even more amazing. It looks impossible even to make something so grand like that. It seems a bit whimsy to me like the character. Love, love…love!

  14. I have chills looking at all the detail shots! Very interesting comment regarding that no matter how much you threw at the gown, it just absorbed it. Do you think it was because of the color??? I’m curious.

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