Photo: Caitriona listens attentively as Sam answers an interview question; a reflection of St. Patricks Cathedral and a tinsel haired Claire wearing the iconic brown dress from Season 2 form the backdrop
It’s Tuesday, and I’m releasing another favorite photo.
This one is of Caitriona and Sam and was taken from the press line at the Saks 5th Avenue unveiling of the Season 2 red dress in New York City, in April 2016. This was the first time I ever photographed these two. I was actually not in the press line, but was right behind it, which was an excellent place for taking photos. I wrote about that trip, and my first impressions of them in one of my first blogs for this site, when it was brand new. I later learned that Sam had a fever on this day, poor guy, which you can kind of see around his eyes in some of the other photos; these guys are troopers though, and the show must go on.
Here is an except from that trip with Mom to New York City…
We emerge as a subway rumbles underfoot, its warm gust lifting the tasteful green skirt of a passerby. The valet looks on, smiling in genuine appreciation. Crossing Lexington, a Hop On Hop Off City Bus noisily pulls away, the top deck filled with slicker clad tourists. We navigate the scaffolding around the Waldorf Astoria to Park Avenue. The Met Life building looms left, and Mom tells me Dad turned down a job there in the early 60’s. Yellow taxis blur by as we wait. It’s not too cold; we have on jackets and our Roma scarves. The city feels alive; I feel alive too. The day smells like wet pavement with a hint of blended odors from food and exhalations of nearby buildings and cars. We continue across Madison Avenue. Horns honk intermittently as we pass a thickly accented argument over a parking place. After half a block we look up.
“We’re here,” Mom says.
Saks 5th Avenue, the original.
We enter through the jewelry department on 49th Street, moving past friendly uniformed staff next to bling filled display counters. We snake through a brightly lit tall ceilinged room, our noses barraged by mingled scents of perfume and makeup. Eager sales people turn on smiles and hold out their wares as we approach. I start to feel the energy of a crowd and soon after that, I hear them. Turn right. Near the door, I approach a Saks employee and ask where the press line is. She directs me outside. We open the doors and the sound intensifies. We step into the amorphous crowd. I look left and see a white awning; the press line is already in place between two lines of steel barricades. I tell Mom to stick next to me and I wait for my chance to ask someone if they received my RSVP. Well-dressed, well-groomed, and very large men of African descent tell the crowd to move back. Somehow Mom and I have stood in a spot where people aren’t required to move. Back everyone to our right goes. Back, back, back, and then a barricade goes up in front of us. Have to clear a space for patrons, fire code, they say. I’m in the front row. We wait. I look to my right and a blond woman smiles at me.
“Fern?” I say.
“How did you get heeah?” She says, with a smirk and a thick New York accent. I smile back and shrug. Introductions are made. We wait, and we talk. I’m reminded of a favorite expression of Diana’s, for we are most definitely packed, cheek by jowl.
Something is happening. One of the suited men has slid the barricade over and is admitting people while counting heads.
“7..8..9..10.” He stops the line. I’ve grabbed Mom and we are floating forward, like two sticks in the creek. The line starts to move again.
I’m 10. “Mom has to come with me,” I say.
“Come on Mom,” he says.
We move forward, skirting the barricade. She trips on the barricade leg, which I anticipated, I’ve stuck close and I catch her. We’re moving down a cordoned off row behind the press line, a row of waiting fans, mostly women, in front of us. We settle into our spot. Fern recognizes an organizer of the event and I ask her if OutlanderBTS has a spot in the press line.
“No,” she says.
“OK, thank you” I say, knowing all things happen when the time is right. The truth is, my site has only been live for a few days, and I never got a confirmation email, and so I assumed not, but it never hurts to ask. I’m happy to be here anyway.
Behind us St. Patrick’s Cathedral rises up: glorious 19th century spires trimmed with unsightly construction clad ankles, a perfect metaphor for NYC. In front are the Saks windows, each occupied by an 18th century couple: mannequins resplendent in Terry’s sumptuous costumes. It drizzles intermittently. At 5’ 3,” Mom is administering the umbrella. I fear for people’s eyes around us as it opens and closes without warning over the next hour and twenty minutes. A crowd gathers across the street behind us on the steps of the cathedral. In the window before us stands a fiberglass Claire bedecked in the exquisite brown dress with floral embroidery we’ve seen in the trailer (as she strolls through the garden at Versailles). Mannequin Claire has curly hair resembling tinsel ribbon, and she’s wearing the hat, yellow gloves, and shoes. Everything is the same. I haven’t had a close look yet, and there is a glare on the window, but I can see that it’s gorgeous. Next, I spot the Cuilean purse in the window to our left. One of Terry’s Easter eggs, the face of her own pooch in Scotland.
It’s 2:30PM. The guests of honor are meant to arrive at 3:30. We stand and chat with our neighbors. In the press line in front of us and to our left is a couple in costume from “That’s Normal.” She’s wearing a replica of Claire’s dress from The Gathering in Season 1, including undergarment with lacework sleeves and cowl. He wears a Highland tartan kilt complete with plaid piece, sporran, leather vest, stock, and boots. They both have red hair. Some of us know each other from Twitter, and we make those connections. I meet the lovely women from Outlandish Canada, in front of us. We exchange information. Mom’s legs start to ache.
“Put yah leg out and bend ovuh…” (Demonstrating) “I’m a phy-si-cuhl thahr-a-pust.” Fern says. Mom obliges, and a stretching session ensues.
I reach in my backpack and dig out the cashews I snagged from our hotel room honor bar; I begin munching on and dispensing them around to our neighbors. We pass the next hour and twenty minutes thusly.
At some point I see a familiar face dashing across my line of sight, in front of the windows, and I realize it’s Davie the driver. A smattering of women recognizes him and yells,
“Davie!” and “Hi Davie!”
It appears that he arrived in a fire truck? Can that be right? The crowd settles back down. At about 3:50, there is some commotion at the far end of the display, near the corner of 5th and 50th.
“There he is!” A woman yells excitedly.
I’m reminded of the book “The Polar Express,” when the children first catch sight of Santa Claus. There is that level of elation and electricity with it. Hoards of cell phones go up. We can’t see anything from where we’re standing. Apparently, The Red Dress has been covered and is being unveiled ceremonially. Fern says she saw The Red Dress yesterday so this is a re-veiling and unveiling.
After about ten minutes of this, Mom says, “I could really use that inch and ¾ that I’ve shrunk right now.” She wants to see what’s going on, but mostly, she’s here to see the costumes and to meet Terry. Before long we see the handlers and logistics personnel slowly working their way down the press line. The first man to catch my eye is a secret servicey looking guy. He scans the crowd, presumably for psychopaths who might leap onto the artists or brandish weapons. Over time he relaxes and eventually wears a bored expression, apparently resigned to the fact that we’re a bunch of women with I phones and umbrellas. I notice another man, preceding the artists down the press line, seemingly giving interviews. I can’t hear what’s being said. He’s very manicured, a slick LA looking PR guy (my guess); slightly incongruous with what I know of the Outlander culture, but clearly he’s part of the entourage.
Gradually the artists make their way toward us, doing small interviews with each press person or pair along the way. Cait and Sam are first, followed by Ron, and then Terry. I didn’t realize Ron would be there; the press invite only mentioned the other three, and I’m pleasantly surprised. Before I can see them, I’m watching them on Fern’s phone, held high in the air. This feels familiar: watching them on screen doing interviews.
“There’s Jamie,” Mom says, and soon after, Ron is in front of us. He has leap frogged Cait and Sam, and is the first one to appear. I can’t hear the questions or answers, so these descriptions reflect my impressions as a participant of the overall experience, not a member of the press line. Ron is wearing a double-breasted black wool pea coat with a charcoal turtleneck, which looks nice with his salt and pepper beard and shoulder length hair of the same color. His sincere brown eyes take each question in and answer with competent humility. My impression of him is that he’s unaffected, a person of relaxed efficiency, unpretentious and considerate. His interviews are fairly short. Before we know it, he has moved on.
Cait and Sam are next, and they arrive together. I first notice Cait. She is stunning. She is more beautiful in person than on camera. Her skin appears to be flawless and she carries herself with a combination of dignity, humor, and unassuming grace. She’s charming, attentive, laughs easily, and is thoughtful in her answers. She is wearing a tiny-checkered black and white Houndstooth dress; her dark hair with auburn highlights is pulled back into a classic bun. I’ve never been so attracted to someone’s neck before. She is at once delicate and strong, like a ballerina in Swan Lake. Her eyes are a luminous intelligent blue surrounded by thick dark lashes, with faint, appealing smile lines at the corners. She has those full red lips, her mouth always holding back or giving into a laugh or a smile. She is a true Irish beauty with beautiful light skin framed by dark hair, and you can see the quick wit behind her eyes. She reminds me of a college buddy, another Irish lass.
And then there’s Sam: the guy who seems to be turning the world on its ear. Seemingly loved by men and women alike, even William Shatner has a crush on him. As I watch Sam give interviews, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be him. He introduces himself and listens attentively to each individual to whom he speaks (every one I see), despite the hundreds of cameras and cell phones trained on him with singular focus and intensity. All the while women in close proximity are shouting his name, waving, and asking for autographs. Somehow you don’t get the feeling he’s ignoring us, it’s more like, he’s being courteous to the speaker. He occasionally looks up between conversations, making eye contact with members of the crowd, smiling and waving, and then resumes giving each interviewer and Cait the courtesy of his (seemingly) full attention. When they finish the interview just before us (with Scottish ex pat journalist Katie MacLeod), a woman standing in front of me asks Sam for an autograph. He looks around conspiratorially, takes her book and signs it, as his handler closes in with apparent disapproval. (Does it occur to anyone else that handler is also the term used to refer to animal trainers?) It seems like everyone wants something from Sam: a smile, eye contact, a touch, an autograph, a word, a hug, marriage, his attention. What must that feel like from so many people? I would think overwhelming, but he seems to take it all in stride.
Physically speaking, Sam wears his hair down; his red curls somewhat tamed and tucked behind his ears. His face is scrubbed clean with a scruffy beard and mustache. He’s wearing a collared pinstriped shirt and light grey suit with a round lapel pin, a very dapper look. Since I can’t hear him, I notice nuances. He has a very mutable, expressive face, particularly his mouth and eyebrows. He’s listening with a smirky smile, then considering with a furrowed brow. As he talks he looks around for his words, he wears the expression of a good listener. He purses his lips in a British way, and occasionally lets loose with a full see-all-of-his-teeth smile. My overall impression of Sam from this interaction is that he’s conscientious, polite and self-contained. He seems humble, caring, and disciplined. He takes his work seriously, both as interviewee and in his sincere acknowledgement of his fans. He seems well mannered and quick to find the best in others.
They move on down the line and there is a lull. For a moment we start to worry that Terry is no longer here and our spirits drop. The crowd thins a bit as women follow Sam’s trajectory. The woman who asked for Sam’s autograph hears us talking about Terry and offers us her first row spot behind the press line. We are delighted. As she departs, we see Terry’s platinum head approaching. Mom is so excited.
She looks at me and says excitedly, “I’ve never done anything like this in my life. I’m going to go talk to her!”
Mom leaves me to find an open spot in front of Terry. As Terry nears there’s a different, more familiar vibe. I hear women’s voices around me.
“Yes, she is.”
“She looks younger in real life.”
Again, I can’t hear the questions or answers from the press but I see Terry giving thoughtful responses peppered with smiles and laughs. She has shoulder length platinum hair, beautiful skin and gorgeous bedroom eyes. Her nose is tastefully decorated with a tiny piercing. She’s dressed in her signature black with a long chained necklace and a favorite pair of pointy-toed medium brown leather boots. When she smiles, she crinkles her nose, and light radiates from her, creating loveliness greater than the sum of her parts. She is an autumn beauty, often disregarded in our culture, which comes from life experience and cultivation of inner self over time; an appeal as or more sublime than spring beauty to the seasoned observer. Terry has it and her costumes mirror it.
“Terry, soft boiled eggs.” Mom says with a girlish grin and excited eyes, leaning over the barricade.
“No waaaay!” Terry says, mirroring her smile.
She looks around for me and our eyes meet in recognition. We all smile.
“Hi Terry,” I say. “We’re all here.” I indicate our little group, “Mom, Fern…”
After greeting us she says, “I’ll come back.”
While she continues down the press line, we stand around and talk; Mandy joins us and we make introductions. I spot Ann from Germany, and we say hello and exchange info about how long we’ve been in town, what we’ve done and will do, etc. We discuss staying to get a closer look at the costumes after the hubbub dies down and Mandy suggests we come back at night for a better view. At length, Terry returns and by then the press line has all but vacated, so we snug up to the front barricade and have a wee chat. Women are asking for autographs so Terry is signing and chatting. Before long Fern asks for a photo together and hands Terry her phone. There is apparently a problem with zooming and selfie mode because after four tries it’s still not working. Ron approaches with LM (Little Moore, the youngest of their kids) in tow and indicates the throng of fans still waiting down at the end of the line. We say our farewells and the three Dresbach/Moores head off arm in arm. We linger for a while until the break down crew gets going, under the efficient and watchful eye of the young woman in the orange trench coat and fabulous shoes who has been overseeing the whole event.
We stroll back toward our hotel contentedly chatting. As we approach the corner of Park Ave and 49th, the classic facade of the Waldorf Astaria comes into view. I check my phone, 5:00PM.
“Want to have tea at the Waldorf?”
Mom’s face lights up. “Really?!”
So we cross and enter through the revolving doors.
For the full story, GO HERE.
I would appreciate if you’d keep the watermark, or include photo credit if you choose to share this photo, thanks for your consideration!