Here’s How Alan Cumming’s Wild Outfits Came Together for ‘The Traitors’

The Traitors is full of twists and turns. The Peacock series is basically a murder mystery dinner party staged for reality-TV cameras, and the second season was packed with quotable players, shocking boots, and unexpected betrayals. But nothing caused more jaws to drop than the wild outfits that host Alan Cumming strode into each episode wearing—head-to-toe maximalist camp, dripping in out-there accessories like Scottish scarves, bright opera-length tartan gloves, berets, brooches, capes, and canes.

Alan Cumming’s known as an adventurous dresser, a champion of the wild style era of menswear, but these ensembles really took it up a notch, and gave the show a jolt of twisted creative flair. Even the show’s cast started stepping it up to match.

“Alan is the one we’re all dressing to impress,” said one of the show’s eponymous traitors, Parvati Shallow, of Survivor fame. “We’re dressing to try to get his attention and his seal of approval. Because Alan’s wardrobe is so fire. Oh my god, his accessories, his little pouf of hair, he’s perfect.”

Cumming’s wardrobe was the result of a carefully considered collaboration with a stylist, Sam Spector, who worked closely with the show’s host and production team to develop a “Bond villain” character for season one. In season two, they created series of looks that closely coincided with every episode’s themed challenge.

Beginning with the “amazing archive” in Cumming’s closet, Spector built out ensembles for the Traitors host that drew from royal funerals, Sex and the City, Etsy, Scottish dandies, and more. He shared with GQ what it was like to create one of reality TV’s truly iconic new characters.

GQ: How’d you get into styling for The Traitors?

Sam Spector: I was the fashion editor for Out Magazine and Esquire and I went off on my own years and years ago, before the celebrity style thing blew up. I had male and female clients but I decided to focus on mens and be the best mens stylist that I could be. I got a call right before Traitors season one from Alan’s manager, people I knew through the industry had recommended me. I didn’t know anything about it at the time, none of us did. I work on so many things that come and go and didn’t expect this much success and fanfare, but it’s been such a treat and so creatively inspiring and amazing to work with Alan on creating this amazing character.

It really is quite a character. He’s playing an amped up version of himself, but as the conductor of a Clue game in a 19th century castle. How did you put it together?

Before season one, Alan and I had a call and he used the word “dandy.” It was the perfect inspiration, we took that to the network and everyone was on board. I created moodboards and used my menswear background to work in a Scottish dandy Laird and traditional Scottish menswear. I also wanted to work with Alan’s punk downtown New York vibe. We had a Bond villain in our heads during season one, but it’s ever-evolving in season two. For the funeral episode, for example, I used images of women at British royal funerals over time—even the queen. Luckily, Alan is interested in going there. He pulls off these crazy and sometimes androgynous and sometimes wacky looks so well. All the credit goes to him—I’m just a little piece of this puzzle.

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