True Blood Fashion: Flashback to 1905

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This season True Blood gave us Pam’s vampire origin story, courtesy of flashbacks to her life as a Madame in San Francisco, circa 1905. Crossing paths with bloodthirsty Lorena and Bill, and rescuer/Maker Eric, the storyline gave True Blood costume designer Audrey Fisher the opportunity to create some beautiful period looks for the actors to wear. Many of you had questions about those stunning pieces, so we asked Audrey to share her inspiration and the process of creating each outfit for Eric and Pam.

Eric’s Gentlemanly 1905 Wardrobe

For Eric’s first 1905 look, Alan Ball wanted him to be totally refined, a wealthy gentleman who had just come from the opera, not scary or vampiric at all. So I went with a very proper top hat and frock coat. Because of time and budgetary issues, we had to scour the costume houses to find a rental frock coat, but we refurbished it with new lapels, buttons, and cuffs, plus did major alterations.

Albertus Swanpoel, incredible milliner and dear friend, made the beaver felt top hat and local costume shop Costume Co-op made that dreamy, creamy double breasted vest. Eric’s bloody hand juxtaposed with the pristine vanilla of the cravat and vest is so wonderful!

Because we had more lead time, I was able to design Eric’s 1905 chocolate brown pinstripe three-piece suit, and Costume Co-op built that as well. I found the perfect wool, but used it on the wrong side for a little more of a period texture and feel. We made the cravat with matching pocket square in house out of vintage tie fabric; Costume Co-op made the historically correct collar that we put on a Brooks Brothers stand collar shirt. Our propmaster furnished the exquisite watch chain, fob and pocket watch. Vampire Eric as perfect gentleman.

Pam’s Elegantly Seductive 1905 Wardrobe

Kristin Bauer van Straten and I have the best time putting together her costumes. These turn-of-the-century looks are especially dramatic on her because her figure is perfect for that wasp-waisted silhouette; she is stunning!

The costume she’s wearing when Eric saves Pam’s life was a total build [created in house], in doubles because of the blood. For the cape, I found that embroidered fabric at B & J Fabrics in NYC, and then based the pattern on a vintage cape of the period that we found in a costume house. There was just enough to make what we needed, and we did a little aging and dyeing to give it more of a period look. I made that doll hat myself sitting on the floor of the fitting room one night; the long burgundy leather gloves are custom as well by Dorothy Gaspar.

For Pam’s first Madame costume in the whore house, I referenced period paintings by John Singer Sargeant for some specific details, like the luscious wide burgundy ribbon tied on her arm. We had the first burgundy velvet corset made for her, and found the black silk skirt in a rental house, then added a lot of flouncy period detail to it.

The second costume was a rental dress that we did a lot cosmetic alteration on to make it suitable for Madame Pam: it was dark wine changeable taffetta with a dramatic skirt and black lace. Then for the wrist-slashing, I had to have 3 robes on standby. I used this gorgeous purple and yellow floral silk that has an early 1900s pattern and feel; we had to make sure the sleeves would accommodate the blood tubes!

The trick for all of the 1905 scenes was to make Pam look incredible, wearing the brassiest and most alluring fashion, as a Madame in that era would have, but give her a tinge of sadness and vulnerability, so that although she’s a savvy Madame, she has that edge of desperation that drives her to beg to be turned by Eric.

Screencaps courtesy of SkarsgardFans.com

Do you have a True Blood fashion question? Drop us a line and we’ll do our best to find the answer for you! NOTE: Season 5 questions only at this time, please!

Fan of the Southern Vampire Mysteries since 2001, and co-admin of True-Blood.net since 2008. Team Sookie!

5 Comments

  1. Liz

    June 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Being a huge fan of period dress, Audrey out-did herself on these costumes. They were all so beautiful and the colors certainly helped set the mood. Excellent work!

  2. Jessica Herbst

    June 27, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    What intricate detail about the outfits! I wrote a similar article about True Blood fashion. If your interested, check it out: http://thefashionfoot.com/2012/06/27/true-blood-fashion-inspiration-part-2/

  3. Rina

    June 27, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Beautiful costumes. Such attention to detail on TB. Thanks for talking to Audrey and posting this article.

  4. Angie

    July 3, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Just watched episode 4 and I LOVED Sookie’s outfit during her “getting drunk” night. The sweater is so cute and once again she has an awesome floral tanktop to match it with! Any chance I could find out where those items came from?

  5. mariella

    July 9, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    where is lorena’s underwear from???