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Everything You Could Possibly Want to Know About Alan Cumming's Outfits on 'The Traitors'

"The Traitors" can't be described simply, because you risk downplaying just how thrilling of a watch it is: It's strategic gameplay built around (fake) murder, with reality TV stars from different franchises scheming in a castle in Scotland and Alan Cumming alliterating about deception and death in incredible outfits (often matching with his sidekick, Lala the dog).

We have Sam Spector to thank for the latter: The stylist has been working with Cumming (and, yes, Lala) on his "Traitors" fashion since season one, and even he admits the fashion on the Peacock original's sophomore U.S. outing is on a whole other level: "We wanted to heighten it from season one to season two. Give it more," he says.

Spector got an APC coat custom-embroidered with Cumming's initials for this scene. <p>Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal</p>
Spector got an APC coat custom-embroidered with Cumming's initials for this scene.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal

Whereas the first time Spector worked on referencing the setting, with tons of tartans and kilts; for the second season, he played off the missions, crafting outfits that referenced or connected back to what Cumming was having the contestants do.

"For the log cabin, I took logs, little sticks, and sewed them to the lapels of the jacket," he says. "The funeral look was just Scottish, but I wanted this to be more funereal. The bird one, I glued a bird to his beret. We just wanted it to be fun, inspirational, kitschy, punk, still Alan, very Scottish… The fact that people are talking about it — it's a little bit of pressure, but it's a great challenge."

But the fan base furor isn't the only thing that's changed between seasons: "I texted Alan and said, 'These contestants are coming for our looks,'" Spector recalls. "They're amping up their style, so we need to be at the next level for next season. We're always ahead of them."

From Parvati's Blair Waldorf cosplay to Trishelle's tartans to Phaedra's... everything, the faithfuls and traitors of season two didn't hold back with their fashion. Then again, neither did Cumming and Spector.

"The first season I did the job, I thought nothing of it — I work on so many things that have one season and get canceled, you're like, 'Okay, onto the next,'" Spector says. "I had no idea this was going to be what it was."

Cumming welcoming the new class of faithfuls — and traitors — to the Scottish castle, wearing red blazer that Spector's assistant, Katie Vaughn, bedazzled to look like the flames of a fire. <p>Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal</p>
Cumming welcoming the new class of faithfuls — and traitors — to the Scottish castle, wearing red blazer that Spector's assistant, Katie Vaughn, bedazzled to look like the flames of a fire.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal

The first step of "Traitors" wardrobe prep, according to the stylist, is going through Cumming's closet. "He does have a lot of that kind of stuff," he says. "I go through what I think would be appropriate for the show, I take as much as I can from his closet that works, I bring it to my studio, then I work on the missions and get inspiration all over. I feel like I have to text him and ask, 'Is there more?' Because [Peacock] announced season three, and I don't know if there's more from his closet — or am I starting from scratch and making everything new?"

Spector will then create mood boards based on what he learns about the missions for the season. "For the funeral look, I did one of British funerals and the fascinators that people wear — like, what would royalty wear to a funeral?" he remembers. He specifically looked to what Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton wore to Queen Elizabeth II's funeral: "Meghan had this dress that had cutouts for sleeves, and so that inspired me to do that big cape thing for Alan."

"I want it to still feel like Alan," he continues. "Alan's an East Village guy that has this punk vibe, so we use some of those themes to get inspired as well. So I'll do a chunky boot because that's in style right now. I take fashion inspiration and work it into the Scottish themes."

A littl<em>e rain do</em><em>esn't spoil th</em><em>e fun. </em><p>Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal</p>
A little rain doesn't spoil the fun.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal

Spector will source some pieces (in addition to going through Cumming's closet, he's a bit of an Etsy whiz), and customize others. The wooden accents on the lapel of Cumming's jacket during the log cabin mission are a very DIY example of this.

"We literally just bought sticks and had them sewn in," he recalls. "My husband's watching it with me, and I had to point it out to him. He's like, 'Is anyone going to notice that?' No, maybe not. But it still works, and it's still interesting. It adds another texture. And on tv, that's great."

Then, for the mission that involved some faithfuls getting trapped in a net, "I custom draped the net over his suit," Spector reveals. "That was a whole thing — me and my assistant spending hours pinning them right into place and then sending them off to our tailor and dressmaker to sew in. We just buy netting in the Garment District or wherever we can find it. It's very crafty."

Surely nothing could go wrong... Cumming teases the perils ahead in a Paisley and Gray suit with netting draped over the shoulders, plus a Gigi Burris hat.<p>Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal</p>
Surely nothing could go wrong... Cumming teases the perils ahead in a Paisley and Gray suit with netting draped over the shoulders, plus a Gigi Burris hat.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal

The scarecrow mission saw Cumming decked in a pair of Marine Serre tartan shorts and a custom blazer, made up of cut-up and mixed-and-matched jackets. "I'm just like, 'Let's go there. Let's be costuming, but also fashion,' which I think is the interesting part," Spector says.

He loves incorporating gloves into each look, too. "They're really fun and inspiring," Spector says. "Ones coming up have bugs that are made out of beads on a mesh. I was just served this glove maker on Instagram and I was like, 'Shit, this would be good for Alan.' Now, I'm getting people reaching out that they want to work with us, so that's great."

For the scarecrow challenge, Cumming dressed the part in a customized Paisley & Gray blazer, Marine Serre shorts and Gigi Burris headpiece. <p>Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal</p>
For the scarecrow challenge, Cumming dressed the part in a customized Paisley & Gray blazer, Marine Serre shorts and Gigi Burris headpiece.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal

The whole process — "from mood board, to creative meetings with the producers, to approvals from the network, to then pulling tons of options to run-throughs where I put all the looks together, to a fitting in my studio in New York" — takes a few months. Spector sends the clothes off to Scotland, and has an on-set dresser, Catherine Moran, to get Cumming ready to film. (He imagines that Cumming acts as Lala's dresser.)

"We pretty much set everything in New York. Maybe a hat doesn't get worn," he says. "There are some things that we add at the last minute — the big red flower he wore in the first episode with the cape, he didn't try on in the fitting, but we added it, so I just send it over and put it on the look in Photoshop. They send images as they're filming to me, and if I see anything out of place, I write back... He's really on board because it's a costume. He follows these things pretty to the T."

By the way, Lala was also fit in New York. But, according to Spector, "she had five minutes to try everything on, because Alan needed to leave. We had very limited time with her."

Cumming and Lala match in plaid, with the host wearing Ortu clothes, a Maria La Rosa bag, Swedish Stockings tights, C'est Jeanne gloves and Matt and Nat boots. <p>Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal</p>
Cumming and Lala match in plaid, with the host wearing Ortu clothes, a Maria La Rosa bag, Swedish Stockings tights, C'est Jeanne gloves and Matt and Nat boots.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal

"But we had such great things, like little plaid hats... Lala is so much fun to style as well," he continues. "I did moodboards for Lala and sent over [pictures,] too — 'if Lala's in this episode, this is what she wears so that it coordinates with Alan's look.'"

All of these elements work together, Spector explains, to create Cumming's "Traitors" persona.

"It's the set, it's the location, it's the wardrobe, it's the hair and makeup — it all makes this character, because he's really playing a character," he says. "We like to say that it's like this Scottish James Bond villain, because it's a dark comedy show. Whenever he comes on, I just start laughing. It's so kitschy, fun and dark. The wardrobe helps play into that."

Spector and Cumming are already scheming up season three, and thinking: '"How can I make it more interesting? How can I make it more dramatic? How can I make it more fun?'," the stylist teases. "I want viewers to gasp when they see these clothes."

"I've really never had a project that's like this, where they let you go for it," he says. "At one point they were like, 'It might be too much.' And I'm like, 'No, there's no such thing.' Alan and I are on the same page: There's no such thing as too much on this show. And people are living for it. The takeaway is that whatever we're doing is working, and I just want to keep it fresh and keep it cute for the next season."

The season two finale of "The Traitors" airs on Peacock on March 7 at 9 p.m. ET.

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