Creating the Clone Club: Rachel Duncan

Rachel Duncan grew up not only privileged, with wealth and position within Dyad. She was the only clone self-awareness of her origins and also had access to files of all other clones. Touted as the first child raised by Neolution, Rachel was raised in the Dyad Institute’s care after a “lab accident killed” her parents, the Lyda project’s lead scientists. Because of this, she grew up in a cold corporate environment privy to all the data collected on her sisters. This upbringing turned her into the perfect corporate CEO who only cares about furthering the Lyda project. As she chases, harasses, and takes advantage of her sisters, Rachel never losses her impeccable sense of style.

Because her entire life revolves around the running of Dyad and the Lyda experiment, Rachel is rarely seen outside of business wear. When we first meet her, she is the perfect image of a demure yet strong and ruthless corporate leader. A neutral color palette and her outfits were fitted but not tight, with low necklines and modest skirts that still leaves everything to the imagination. The stiff Silhouettes that project her strength, however, there are always one or two soft feminine details. Whether that detail is a pleat or silk blouse, giving her a sense of softness that she uses to attempt to put people at ease. In her downtime, Rachel leans into that softness with silk and lace lingerie. But all the delicate details don’t mask her domineering personality, which is what causes her to lose her and change her look.

Tatiana Maslany as Rachel Duncan BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 7. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Rachel Duncan BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 10. Photo: BBC America

Tatiana Maslany as Rachel Duncan BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 9. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Rachel Duncan BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 5. Photo: BBC America

After losing her eye and some neurological damage that causes her to limp, setting Rachel on a journey of self-discovery, her wardrobe takes a dramatic turn. While she’s recovering Rachel still looks perfectly put together by wearing matching silk Nancy Meyer pajama sets allowing her to convalesce in luxury. She wear these through her entire recovery period as they give her freedom of movement as she learns to walk again and comfort as she gets her new eye.

After her recovery Rachel returns to the same color palette but the silhouette changes completely, to cover up the severity of her limp. The fitted silhouette she had used to project power completely falls away. To hide her limp and make it easier to walk she wears wide legged pants, A-line tops and Jackets that hide her waist and hips. She also begins to wear maxi dresses that achieve the same covering up of her limp but also is a symbol of the spiritual experience she believes that she begins to have, softening her personality and wardrobe toward the vary end of the series.

Tatiana Maslany as Rachel Duncan BBC America: Orphan Black Season 3 Episode 6. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Rachel Duncan BBC America: Orphan Black Season 9 Episode 9. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Rachel Duncan BBC America: Orphan Black Season 5 Episode 7. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Rachel Duncan BBC America: Orphan Black Season 4 Episode 7. Photo: BBC America

While her wardrobe goes on a journey, her hair and make-up are her signature. Rachel’s hair is radically different from most of the other clones who ten to keep their hair long and dark. But never one to follow the crowd hairstylist — Sokolowski went to great lengths to give Rachel her power bob, needing to adjust Maslany’s hair and make all her natural hair disappear with the wig.

“Every time you get a hairline involved and you want to show it, you are working with mohair, you are working with superfine lace; it’s bewildering.” 

While the process may have been bewildering, Sololowski’s design for Rachel is nothing short of perfect for Rachel’s role as the perfect, ruthless corporate leader.

Tatiana Maslany as Rachel Duncan BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 5. Photo: BBC America

While not as dramatic as Rachel’s hair and wardrobe — Lynch’s make design for Rachel encapsulates everything she believes about herself as he explained to Vanity Fair,

“in Rachel’s mind, makeup is fun and a class thing. She has to absolutely represent the high … someone who has people come to her to do her skin and nails and hair, trying to look radiant with her expensive look. She can’t achieve that kind of radiance, though, because she is kind of dead in her eyes. . . . But I think Rachel would think that Alison is almost vulgar in her middle class-ness, though. Even her haircut says, I am better than you.”

Rachel truly does believe she is better than her sisters in the clone club and with every piece of clothing, makeup and hair she send that message to everyone around her.

Tatiana Maslany as Rachel Duncan BBC America: Orphan Black Season 1 promotional photo. Photo: BBC America

Want to know more? Check out my sources.

Hubbard, Lauren. “The Secrets Behind Orphan Black’s Clone Makeup.” Allure, Allure, 25 May 2017, http://www.allure.com/story/orphan-black-makeup.

Shapouri, Beth. “How Much Cosima’s Wig Weighs and Other Shocking Hair Secrets From Orphan Black.” Glamour, Glamour, 12 Jan. 2016, http://www.glamour.com/story/how-much-cosimas-wig-weighs-an.

Miller, Julie. “Here’s How Orphan Black Transforms Tatiana Maslany Into a Cast of Clones.” Vanity Fair, 2015, http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/04/orphan-black-clones.

Shapouri, Beth. “More Onset Secrets From Orphan Black??? You’ve GOT to Hear the Background on Helena!” Glamour, 2 May 2014, http://www.glamour.com/story/more-onset-secrets-from-orphan.

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Elizabeth Joy Glass grew up on the east coast in Pennsylvania surrounded by early American history. A childhood full of fantasy, sci-fi and historical media, inspired her to start sewing and cosplaying. After high school, Elizabeth decided to move across the country to study fashion and costume design at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. While in school she worked on several AFI thesis films in the costume department. Elizabeth ultimately graduated with a B.A. in Digital Cinema and decided to pursue a career in video production and screenwriting, but she still holds a love for costume design and its history.

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