Wednesday, July 20, 2016

2016 "An Evening with Ms Terri Dresbach" at FIDM Los Angeles

The Artistry of Outlander: 

Well, what can I say, I was one of the lucky ones, I got the Golden Ticket!  After two failed email attempts to request a reservation, it was nothing short of amazing to receive an email from FIDM saying that I was indeed going to be invited to attend "An Evening with Terri Dresbach" on Wed, July 20th to hear her talk at length on her Outlander Costumes!  Wow!

There were instructions that were to be followed and as such, they were.  I filled my extra early arrival time with a little bit of shopping and looking around in the downtown garment district and then a little more in the FIDM scholarship store.

I had walked by the entrance once, and no one was there, I had approx 15 mins before we were to be allowed to start lining up.  So, I headed over to get an iced coffee as the day was extremely warm.  Upon my return the line had exploded and there were dozens of people already inline ahead of me!  Where they all came from so quickly was a mystery!  However, I then discovered there were two lines by last name alphabetically, luckily I was in the correct line!  My friend Tracy then met up with me and we were set for registration.  She was able to get some underground parking, but I parked just across the street.

During our short bit of waiting, we took turns wandering into the FIDM gift shop to peruse the Outlander swag being offered for sale, and I picked up a couple of pins and a cool writing pad that was an exclusive FIDM goody - it has a TD drawing of the 18th century Dior Bar Suit inspired gown on the cover!

Doors opened promptly at 5:00 and the check-in process when very quickly and smoothly.  Wristband on, we headed to the elevators, and then to the fourth floor!  We were lucky to find a pair of seats in the sixth row, center, - it was very exciting!

Up at the front of the stage on the left side was the Dior Bar Gown and on the right side, was the Floral Gown. center stage had two chairs.  I was happy to snap a couple of pictures of each gown to add to my Outlander at the Paley photo set:

Promptly at 6:00 Mrs Terri Dresbach and her husband, Ronald Moore (director of the Outlander series), walk in to an enthusiastic round of applause from everyone in attendance.  We were told tonight that Ms Dresbach just received notice that she had been nominated for an Emmy for her costume work on Outlander!  Everyone went crazy with more applauding! The presentation was originally scheduled for a class room, but they moved it the school cafeteria, which allowed for several more people to be able to sit.  The slideshow had a few bugs to work out, but once that was seen to, Ms Terri Dresbach began her talk.

She stated that it all started with a script and the book.  She had a budget and she never went over it.  She told them she would need a year to create everything.  She originally estimated ten thousand individual items would need to be created, she said it ended up being closer to thirty thousand (30,000).  She knew the principal actors/actresses garments needed to be completed prior to filming, and they were.  Most of the work was done at a facility in Scotland by a crew of seventy-five people.  She stated that she researched for months before she started sketching.  She shared the actual inspiration paintings for several of the gowns, suits, and shoes.  Once the sketch was determined to be the final item, it was sent to be made into a pattern, then into a muslin mock-up, then the mock-up was handed over to a team for fabric placement, and then sewn together and finished with many fittings for each actor/actress.  She said while the process sounded simple, it was very arduous, as most of their 18th century fabrics had to be created from scratch by them in-house. She said there was a bank of six digital embroidery machines that worked for hours to create the embroidered fabric they needed.  Hours went into the just the research to determine the perfect embroidery designs.  She said she loved the red banded shoes that she designed that match the Red Gown, and wished they could be sold publicly!  She had nicknames for several of the ensembles, such as "Fruit Bowl" for one of the suits.  She talked about how everyone worked together as a team to make this TV series come to life in the costuming.  She said for the "extras" they would have a week to fit them, and for the fancier extras "Countess #3" or "Duke #7" they would hopefully get thirty days to make that piece.  She shared that she wished there were more full length shots of all the attire (we could not agree more!) that so much can not be seen, the attention to the smallest detail, the dedication to create as perfect an item as possible.  She said that when she was designing for the 1940 attire, it was very special to her as that was her mother and fathers era and she especially wanted to get that exactly right.  She said that she knew there were a lot of fans that truly appreciated the technical difficulties of each ensemble and she wanted to create the best that was possible because she knew it mattered to the cast members, but also because she knew the fans of the show demanded it.  She said she knew she would hear about it via social media if something was not up to par.  She said that each item of clothing was "aged" and or "distressed", sometime as simple as a tea stain dip, or run over  by a car repeatedly, or her most popular effort, by blowtorch!  She said all the wool fabric edges and hems received this treatment especially.  She laughed and stated that they did loose one ensemble, it caught fire and burnt up!

After the final slide, and a thirty-seven minute presentation, the format changed over to question and answers.  Ms Dresbach was warm and endearing with her fans and her answers.  I left feeling like I had just had a nice chat with a good friend!  It was a perfect "in person" presentation and I wanted to share as many of these thoughts as I could remember before that all fell away with other interesting thoughts.  I took a few pictures, not as many as I might have, as I did not want to miss her actually talking while trying to take a picture behind the camera.  I hope for those of you that did not get to attend, you will find this little post of interest - Enjoy!

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Discussing her inspiration for the Dior Bar Gown (on the left)

Discussing the handpainted Muslin gown

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