‘The Artistry of Outlander’ Exhibit Presents ‘Badass’ 18th-Century Parisian Boots, Heels And Costumes

It doesn’t seem fitting for a Scottish hunk to wear knee-high white stockings and satin black boots, even among 18th-century Paris’ high society.

So when “Outlander” costume designer Terry Dresbach needed a way to remain historically accurate and ensure the drama’s leading actor Sam Heughan would maintain touch of sex appeal in his footwear, she found the solution starring in her face.

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"Outlander" costume designer Terry Dresbach stands near a pair of stylish 18th century boots.
CREDIT: Courtesy

“That is from a painting I found from the Metropolitan [Museum of Art] — there was a man sitting there in the boots, and I was like, ‘Yes!’ ” Dresbach said at a preview of “The Artistry of Outlander” exhibit, which launched Wednesday at The Paley Center in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Speaking to Footwear News, the designer said she was committed to bringing to life an accurate portrayal of the fashion seen in the Starz series, as the characters flee the Scottish Highlands for Paris in the 1740s.

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Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser.

The exhibit, which is open to the public through the summer, showcases the wardrobe, footwear and production design of the drama’s second season, which began on April 9.

The acclaimed show tells the story of Claire Randall, played by Caitriona Balfe, a World War II nurse in 1945 on her honeymoon in Inverness, Scotland, who touches a mysterious stone that sends her back in time. She finds love — and later marriage — in Heughan’s Jamie Fraser.

While romance and political scandals reign in the series, audiences are just as struck by fashion on-screen. In Season 1, the characters were set in turbulent Scotland. In Season 2, they head to Paris — along with a new wardrobe to rub shoulders with the elite.

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Sam Heughan wears a suit by Burberry and Christian Louboutin shoes; Caitriona Balfe wears Neil Rodgers shoes.
CREDIT: Courtesy

For series star Heughan, a heart-throb Highland warrior, the change posed concern.

“I was terrified going into this season about the French fashion,” Heughan admitted during an interview with FN. “I was worried about the frills and lacy things.

But he was relived to wear edgy boots that were worn at the time, though rarely seen in period dramas.

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A sketch of character Jamie Fraser's costume.

“Jamie doesn’t have to wear any shoes — he wears amazing boots,” he added. “They are hideous to put on because they have 18 buckles, but they are pretty badass, to be honest.”

Dresbach said that the viewers’ response to the historical fashion proves that style is timeless.

Another standout moment from the series featured a scene that included heroine Claire wearing a striking red dress and matching bejeweled strappy shoes for a royal soiree.

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Shoes inspired by 1940s style from "Outlander."
CREDIT: Charlie Carballo
outlander costumes
Historically accurate red shoes inspired by 1940s style from "Outlander."
CREDIT: Charlie Carballo
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Costumes and footwear from "Outlander" season two.
CREDIT: Courtesy

“Great fashion never goes away,” she said. “People look at historical costumes and go, ‘Oh my god, I want those shoes.’ People saw them and went nuts.”

Dresbach created Claire’s new wardrobe — a stylish transformation from Season 1 — is based on the character’s 1940s style, including a Christian Dior-inspired black and white dress.

“She designs the character first and brought so much of Claire’s ‘40s aesthetic into the 18th century — and I thought that was such an interesting and powerful way to make her stand out in Paris,” Balfe added.

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Christian Dior-inspired costume from "Outlander" season two.
CREDIT: Courtesy

So where did high society store all of their fabulous footwear?

“They didn’t really have closets yet,” production designer Jon Gary Steele explained. “It was mostly giant armoires and chests. From the research, it was pieces of furniture that you open up and put it in. In Jamie and Claire’s bedroom, there are two armoires on each side with frous-frous stuff. It’s crazy, but at the time, that’s what you’d do. On every shelf and nook, they are filled with things because we want it to feel as real as possible.”

The second season of “Outlander” will conclude on July 2.

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