Spencer: On April 17, 2011, the very first episode of Game of Thrones premiered. We are gathered here today to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Game of Thrones, The Iron Anniversary. Game of Thrones has won numerous awards throughout its run, including 59 Emmy Awards, eight Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody Award. Game of Thrones has the most Emmy nominations for a drama series with 161 nominations. Still on the topic of Emmys, Game of Thrones was also nominated for seven Emmys within the costume design category, with four wins. The costumes of Game of Thrones remain LEGENDARY!
Spencer: I’m excited to have two members of The Art of Costume team here with me, Elizabeth Glass and Mariana Sandoval. Welcome, you two!
Elizabeth: Hello everyone! This is so exciting. I can’t wait to get started and talk Game of Thrones with you two.
Mariana: Hi Spencer and Elizabeth! I am so happy to join you for this Game of Thrones piece!
Spencer: So let’s jump right into it. It’s been ten years since the premiere of Game of Thrones. My first question for each of you, what are your thoughts when you hear the phrase… “10th Anniversary”?
Elizabeth: It feels weird because it seems like I just saw the pilot for the first time yesterday. When I started watching this in high school with my family, it was the show we watched together every week as it aired. Then I went to college, and it became the show I watched with my friends; we bonded over it. Looking back on it, I feel like I grew up with the show and the person who watched the finale is not the same person who watched the pilot.
Mariana: It feels so long ago. I watched it in different places, with different people, at different times of my life. I’m picturing myself here in Toronto two years ago with a friend, running through themed bars so we could watch the live episodes… It’s also amazing how we have grown with the characters and watching them back in Season 1. Arya and Bran were so young! It’s kind of a similar feeling that I had with Harry Potter, but with Game of Thrones, it is way stronger.
Spencer: It’s like each episode brings back a particular memory. Oh, I remember where I was or what I was eating when that happened. It takes you back; I miss it! Game of Thrones is like family to me. I feel like all of my best friends in life were made over a connection to Game of Thrones.
The costumes for Game of Thrones, in my opinion, are some of the best TV costumes of all time. As a whole, what are your thoughts on the costumes?
Mariana: Actually, the costumes of Game of Thrones were the ones that clicked; I wanted to do costumes for Film and TV. When I was in fashion school, one of my friends was surveying your favorite fashion designer, and my answer was Michele Clapton. Of course, my friends were like, “who the hell is this woman?” hahaha… So, yeah, this was when I realized that this was a job, that she did this for a living. I was like, “Oh my goodness, she’s perfect. I want to do whatever she’s doing”. So, working on this article was very inspiring. It felt like going back to the roots of how all this crazy costume design dream began; it is significant for me.
Elizabeth: I love that they build a whole different world with distinct cultures and costumes that don’t exist, but they make them feel so real. It reminds me a lot of what The Lord of the Rings did to bring interest into the fantasy genre. However, they did that not by creating these extravagant or ethereal designs that are something out of this world like a lot of fantasy does. They grounded it in the realities of everyday life; you never see anything impractical. Every piece has a purpose, and all the costumes mean something to show and create the cultures and world they’re meant to inhabit.
Spencer: I almost feel the same as Mariana. I won’t say Game of Thrones brought me into costumes, but I think it laid the foundation the whole time, and I didn’t know it. I remember back in the day when those crazy news articles were coming out about the use of IKEA rugs. It blew my mind; Michele Clapton’s work on this show is just brilliant. I feel like the whole time, the show was setting a foundation for me to move into costumes before I knew it, but Game of Thrones knew it. Cersei Lannister was serving looks that would inspire me for the rest of my life.
It’s time to get started; as I mentioned, there’s a lot of great costuming in Game of Thrones. Let’s celebrate the 10th anniversary by discussing our favorite costumes. In preparation for this article, I asked you both to think of your favorite costume from each season. Let’s take turns and go season by season and talk about our favorite looks.
Elizabeth: I’m so excited about this. I had so many options it was hard to choose just one each season.
The Costumes of Season 1
Images Courtesy of HBO – Game of Thrones
Spencer: I’ll start us off with season one, the pilot season. This is the season where we meet each of the three primary houses. We meet the Stark children for the first time and the shocking relationship between the Lannisters.
I love Cersei’s looks in season one because, if you notice, when she starts, she was wearing pastel, bleached colors. While the silhouettes were extravagant, her colors were relatively muted. This first look I picked is one of her brighter outfits. When you first meet her, Cersei is just King Robert Baratheon’s wife. Cersei looks uncomfortable, like she is trapped in a life she doesn’t want. She wears green and blue, which is just not the Cersei that we all know. Once Robert dies, that is when the red starts to kick in. It kind of starts as this bleached red, but as we get into the later seasons, it becomes full crimson and gold. As soon as she breaks free from Roberts’s stranglehold, color comes back to her clothing as she gets closer to world domination.
Elizabeth: So my first design is going to be Sansa.
Spencer: I knew it!
Elizabeth: Yes, it’s the dress that she wears to her first tournament in the show.
When she’s just getting to the south but is still wearing all of her dresses from home in the North, she clearly hasn’t gotten a new wardrobe that’s up to date with the capital’s fashion. I like this because it starts her whole character journey from a very innocent place. She’s just little Sansa, who wants to be pretty and marry a rich prince; that’s all she wants. She is innocent, and this gown reflects that with the rosettes along the front and lavender color. I also love this because, as I was saying before, they add those details specific to the North’s culture that you don’t see anywhere else in the series.
The flowers are these chunky appliques that look like they’re made out of a heavier material like wool or something because they need to keep themselves warm in the North. So obviously any decoration on their clothes will also be heavy; I thought that was interesting. I missed it as the series went on because it’s only northern ladies dressing this way. That’s one of my favorite looks just because it’s like, oh, this is the North, their culture and little sense of being obnoxious but innocent. I like the floor because it’s almost like it reminds me of a rose that’s covered in snow, almost like it’s this quilting kind of rose. It has little beads falling off it, almost like rain; that’s beautiful. I’m astonished by the detail because that doesn’t even show up on the screen; you don’t see that in the show.
Mariana: Okay, so I’ll say that one of my favorites is Joffrey Baratheon’s costume in the scene when Ned Stark is going to be beheaded. There’s a lot of power in his character, and his costume is fully supporting that. There is a clear relation between his costume and Cersei’s; they have the same embroidered lion on the sides as a Lannister symbol. Also, he has an antler’s pin as the Baratheon staple.
In a lot of the men’s costumes, we see doublets and armors, so Michele created a doublet much more modern as a cape with straight lines that make him look elegant and empowered, as the young king he is. I also loved the textile they used. So, from the men’s costumes from this season, I think this one is a winner, also because I know we will be talking a lot about the costumes worn by the ladies, so I just wanted to point out this one as a great costume.
Spencer: I never really got a closer look at this costume before. Looking at the shape of this, it’s crazy good. Obviously, this is a chaotic scene where the presumed main character gets his head chopped off so it’s kind of hard to focus on the costumes so I am glad you picked this one.
Elizabeth: I know, I love that.
Mariana: I also love how Cersei is just like putting the Lannister stamp all over him. When we see them both standing together, you can tell that something will happen with these evil characters, haha.
Spencer: What do you call what he is wearing? I mean, it’s a cape, but what’s the accurate term for it?
Mariana: Well, yeah, I think I would call it a cape. As I mentioned before, it looks like it evolved from a doublet. And in the medieval fashions, they used kirtles which were kind of long vests with openings on the sides, and then underneath, you will have a shirt. Back then, when people showed the garments they wore underneath, it was a synonym of wealth, so I think that’s what Michele was trying to do with this garment.
Spencer: You are such an expert, Mariana!
The Costumes of Season 2
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Elizabeth: In Season 2, we introduce more of the families and their complex lives, and witness the beginning of the conflict of houses along with the crazy lengths they’re going to in order to grab power. So I have to go with Melisandre.
Spencer: I just have to say, Melisandre is who I associate Elizabeth with… always!
Elizabeth: That’s because of that one dress I have, that’s all.
Spencer: For the audience, one time we went out, and Elizabeth was wearing all red… Red dress, red heels, red lipstick. Elizabeth knew the night was dark and full of terrors. I’m a fan.
Elizabeth: Yeah yeah, so I love Melisandre. She’s just so different from everyone else because everyone else is trying to fit into their house or region of the world, like ‘I’m a fine lady of the South.’ Melisandre is like, I have a mission, my goal is set. I’m just like every single woman when she’s just gorgeous and ready to stand out. I always loved her dress, but I’ve never really liked her necklace. I feel like it’s just kind of out of place, which they explain later on, obviously. But she’s so bold, but then there’s this thing choking her around her neck. I guess that’s because she has this weird destiny.
Spencer: They made it so it’d be more muted so they wouldn’t see it as much because initially, they would use this large diamond but instead went with a more raw type of crystal so it wouldn’t stand out. That being said, it’s pretty noticeable!
Elizabeth: I am a big fan of literally everything else!
Mariana: Okay, so from season two, I’m also going to pick a man; it is Tyrion Lannister. This costume is when he was named Hand of the King. It is basically a doublet with a belt, trousers, and boots. But two things caught my attention, first the intricate detail of the fabric. I guess that’s like leather with a laser-cut pattern, and once again, we can see his undershirt in a burgundy tone. I just loved it so much. And second, this is when his character starts to transform, from being the drunk uncle that no one likes or cares about to the Hand of the King. He starts wearing more “Lannister costumes,” where wealth and power are evident all the time.
Elizabeth: Yeah, I love seeing these because, honestly, it’s something I never noticed before. With the lighting and the way they shoot it, that detail just kind of fades into the rest of what he’s wearing, but it’s crazy because I’m sure it does make such an impact. And it’s so beautiful; I wish you could see more of it in the show.
Spencer: For season two, I picked Brienne of Tarth. You all thought I was going to pick Cersei, but I didn’t, so… HA! I am a big Brienne fan. I love many of her different armors, but I tried to pick just one, so I went with season two. This is the part of the show where we just barely met Brienne. This is a character who is a lady from the island of Tarth. But Brienne does not pretend to be a noblewoman like, let’s say, Cersei. Her entire storyline builds up to her becoming commander of the Kingsguard.
So she’s wearing armor typically built for a man, but I love how Michele Clapton did it. She didn’t want her to have a breastplate that emphasized her body. Instead, she wore male-suited armor, but she created these triangles in the design. The triangle shapes give a more feminine look which I thought was cool. I love the hints of sapphire blue in the armor. Sapphire is the color of the Island of Tarth. As we go further into the show, her armor starts to get bluer and bluer until we get to the very end, when it’s gold once again.
Elizabeth: Yeah, she’s a great character. She’s always true to herself in every single season. But I love that one because I feel like there she is the most herself before the end. She’s like; I’m here to serve my man or whoever; I guess she’s probably serving Catlin by that point. But she’s very focused and driven.
Spencer: I feel like that comes across because Brienne has a very “no-nonsense” state of mind. She’s here because she has a job to do, and she’s not worried about being in a fashion show for flashiest or sexiest armor. Brienne wears her armor to protect herself while she’s killing anyone that challenges her or her loved ones.
The Costumes of Season 3
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Mariana: Season three showed us not to get attached to any character, and we saw the beginning of the rise of Daenerys Targaryen, which is the character I chose. In this season, she’s conquering and bringing freedom to all these different places. She owns her shit, and she knows how powerful she is and how much good she can do for the world. Daenerys starts wearing trousers and boots mainly to move around and ride her dragons easily, and also, she is wearing long bodices that all have a dragon scale texture. She will carry this along until the end, and I find it so beautiful and thoughtful for storytelling purposes.
I once made something similar in a costume, and I was impressed by how time-costuming but astonishing it ended up looking. To think that she has this textile transformation spread all over her costumes is impressive. She is wearing this costume most of the time with its cape, and it makes her and Missandei look kind of similar in terms of silhouette. They both look stunning.
Elizabeth: I was looking at that the other day; it’s a good one and very her. She’s like, I know what I’m doing. I’m here to free everybody, and I’m the Mother of Dragons, so let’s do this.
Spencer: I love the texture, as you said, the kind of dragon scale type texture up close, which I never really noticed on this particular one, so that’s pretty awesome. Wow, I feel like I’m learning so much today! I’m impressed. For season three, don’t act surprised. I HAVE to go with Cersei one more time.
Elizabeth: It’s who you are, that’s okay…
Spencer: This is one of my favorite looks of the entire series. Cersei Lannister is now basically in control. Joffrey is the king, but Cersei will always be the queen. She’s running this thing, and she looks fantastic. I love this red Crimson color. She’s full Cersei now. She’s got rid of all those dumb Baratheon hairstyles and silly dressed. She now has this metal corset with that matching necklace. Cersei is the boss now.
Elizabeth: I love that you choose this one because it’s kind of like a progression of her paranoia. In the second season, she just wears the armor because they’re under siege, and she has to. In the third season, technically, everything’s fine. Like they’re not under siege anymore, the wars all but over; however, now she’s just so paranoid she has to wear it.
Spencer: Yeah, she can’t let it go. She’s built up these walls. I don’t think Cersei trusts literally anyone. Not even her child who becomes the king.
Elizabeth: So my season three pick is Sansa’s wedding gown when she’s forced to marry Tyrion. This is the height of her being trapped by the Lanisters, and there’s so much symbolism in it. First off, it’s got like this cross pattern around her chest where it’s like, yeah, you’re not getting out. This is it. But then the detail around it is just so beautiful and brilliant because the embroidery tells her family lineage. First off, she’s a Stark, so there’s a wolf. Then her mother was a Tully, so there’s a little fish. And it goes on all the way around it to the back of her neck where there’s the Lannister lion. It’s the biggest one; they’re basically branding her for everyone to see and say, we own you now because we only want you for your baby so that we can take the North.
Spencer: Sansa is a sucker for some symbolism in her garments; she loves it. What do you think about the armor? She has this metallic piece on her hips.
Elizabeth: Yeah, I feel like again that’s probably Cersei’s input of her paranoia because clearly, Sansa did not design this herself; she didn’t ask for it. Everything was just kind of done for her, and she showed up on the day. I feel like that’s just more Cersei being like, yeah, you’re trapped here, so you better armor up because they will be coming after you. But it’s almost a tool for Cersei to be like, look, we’re bringing together all these kingdoms. The Lannister one is prominent because it’s like Cersei has their hands around Sansa.
The Costumes of Season 4
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Spencer: In season four, the plot thickens as the dangers of politics come to a head. I am very excited about season four because my pick is probably unexpected. So, I picked Oberyn Martell, people probably don’t know, but he’s one of my favorite characters. I also have to do a special shout-out to Ellaria Sand because their costumes work together in a pair. Ellaria is an underrated character, by far!
Oberyn is known as “The Red Viper.” So if you zoom in on the texture of his brown leather, Michele Clapton uses this black stamping to make it look like a reptilian scale because he’s the Viper. My favorite part, he has a hand shield. It’s made to look like a snake coming down his arm.
Mariana: Oh, that’s so cool. I never noticed that!
Elizabeth: Yeah, it’s good. I love these.
Spencer: Then, when it comes to Ellaria, she and Oberyn are always matching. Ellaria brands herself with this signature pointy shoulder piece, which in this show represents power and strength. Ellaria also has that reptilian kind of texture in her costume. So overall, this is one of my all-time favorite costume moments. It’s a shame that this is the final costume we see Oberyn in. I was so crushed when he got…. crushed. I’ll see myself out.
Elizabeth: Good one. All right, my pick for season four it’s kind of like a whole character, Lady Olenna. She is just a badass in her own right, and I find it fascinating because she’s the only older noble lady we ever get to see. She’s the only widow who actually acts like a widow in this kind of world, so it’s really interesting to see how they handle that. For example, you never see her hair. She’s always completely covered, but she always looks so good it’s like, oh, that’s where Margaery gets it from.
She’s house Tyrell through and through with the blue in the gold. And she’s a lot like Brienne where everything is no-nonsense, yes I look good, but you never see anything frilly it’s just beautiful fabric with an excellent cut to it. The rose belts are the most intricate thing you ever see on her, so I just always felt like she was one of the most interesting, dressed because there’s no other like there’s no other old widow, in the show like come on women either die in childbirth or like, go into seclusion after their husbands passing she’s just like no I have family business take care of, I don’t know what you’re worried about
Spencer: Lady Olenna Tyrell is just the best. Unfortunately, Dame Diana Rigg passed away this past September, and we miss her. She was wonderful. The Queen of Thorns was a legend, and she always looked good.
Elizabeth: She was terrific and also, the way she and her grandchildren always have matching fabrics and colors, they look so good. The three of them always represent House Tyrell and knew how to show a united front as a family.
Mariana: My favorite for this season is Margaery Tyrell’s wedding dress. This dress is just so stunning; she looks absolutely gorgeous like she’s coming from an enchanted forest with her power and ambition. It suits her character and her body perfectly; it is basically a haute couture gown. The roses, which are a staple to the Tyrells, were made by hand, one by one, and attached to her skirt and train, creating this gorgeous cascade. It’s so delicate but at the same time powerful and determined, just like Margaery. She has roses and thorns, like as she was saying “keep out because I am beautiful but dangerous.”
I actually found a quote from Michele Clapton explaining the concept behind this design:
“I wanted it to be sort of quite traditional dress in a funny way. But then again, roses can be so pretty, and I didn’t want her to be pretty. I wanted her to be slightly dangerous; hence the metal rose vines running along her dress which subtly are spiked with metal thorns if you look closely, showing her danger underneath”.Michele Clapton, Costume Designer
Spencer: What a contrast compared to Sansa’s wedding dress that Elizabeth just showed us. It’s so interesting that we have these images one after the other because Sansa was very covered up; Margaery is free to wear seemingly whatever she wants.
Mariana: This is the point in the season where Margaery is in control, and Cersei is kind of losing her power to Margaery, which is, you know, a lot of tension and build-up, so I love that. Oh, and I also wanted to add a little thing to this, Joffrey’s crown and Margaery’s tiara both have the Baratheon’s antlers with some roses wrapped around, merging the two families Baratheon and Tyrell.
The Costumes of Season 5
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Elizabeth: We are now in season five, where new and old threats reveal themselves, putting our strongest characters in challenging positions. Well, surprise, surprise, I choose Sansa’s wedding dress for her wedding with Ramsay Bolton.
Mariana: Okay, I almost picked this one too; it’s gorgeous.
Elizabeth: It’s yet another wedding dress for Sansa because she’s trapped, again by the Boltons, but this time she’s home in the North. But she can’t be home because the people who killed her family are keeping her here. Unlike the Lannisters who are shouting to the world, this is Sansa Stark, and she’s ours; the Boltons are trying to erase who she is while still leveraging her position as the ‘last Stark,’ but that’s all people need to know.
The gown is completely white with very little detail. Because the Boltons don’t want to deal with the fact that they destroyed House Stark or the possible legal situation with her marriage to Tyrion, they are just like, nope, and with the white, she is the perfect virgin, and nothing’s ever happened here. They just don’t want anybody looking into it. They need people to know she’s a Stark to strengthen their claim to the North but also… don’t think about that.
Spencer: Yeah, I love this; it’s so beautiful. Such beauty, found in such a horrible series of scenes.
Mariana: I think those buttons or pins that she has in the front are fish, symbolizing the Tully family, her mother.
Elizabeth: I wondered about that; that’s not like the flayed man. It’s so tiny.
Spencer: I have an excerpt from Michele Clapton about this dress,
“I wanted to incorporate many Stark elements, the first color is an homage to her father and her older brothers, both of whom were close of similar colleagues that went to fill the fish class that closed again are influenced by her mother, the spectre white color represents the ghost of her family so many of whom she has lost by this time again was made from a heavy upholstery fabric and lace up the back, the lacing along the spine suggests a certain vulnerability. The dress is ripped from her body on her wedding night by Ramsay, and then she says Sansa later he pays his brutality by feeding him to a pack of dogs.”Michele Clapton – Costume Designer
Mariana: Okay, so my favorite for season five will be Arya Stark as the Oyster Girl. In the past seasons she’s been running away, she looks like a little boy, so dirty and messed up, and she’s just struggling so much. So, when she gets to this part of the season, she transforms into this other character: the Oyster Girl, which is kind of her most feminine look from the entire series, I believe, and it’s beautiful. The colors are perfectly picked for her, and the different textures are all working so well. She still has the same silhouette from past costumes, the broad, round shoulders and cinched waist. It doesn’t show her as powerful as she can be, but that’s the point. She’s disguising herself in this town.
Spencer: Oysters, Clams, and Cockles!!!! I just had to say it… I feel like she’s happy because this is the first time she’s not Arya Stark. Arya’s not worried about what the Lannister’s are doing, or really anything at all. She’s just out here selling oysters, clams, and cockles. I love the textile she’s wearing because it’s like she’s one with the harbor at this point, so she almost looks like she’s wearing netting, which is brilliant.
Elizabeth: I was going to say, she never has color except for this, and I feel like this is the first time she’s kind of happy since her family died. I feel like she shows it when she’s like the oyster girl.
Spencer: Okay, I actually almost didn’t pick this look because I thought everyone else would pick this one. I am shocked no one else picked it. I love this look. This is from the Dance of the Dragons episode. Daenerys Targaryen just looks so good in white. However, I find it hilarious that she is wearing white because this a very dusty area. White probably wouldn’t be my first pick. I love the cape and the low kind of cut neckline she has going on. The simple lines in this dress are beautiful. Of course, we have to talk about her jewelry with the dragon wrapped around her neck. It was intended to look like she has a dragon resting on her shoulder, which I think is so cool.
She gives me Cate Blanchett as Galadriel vibes, you know, because she’s wearing bright white, in this really kind of sad town riddled with slavery and brutal arena games. To me, I feel like Daenerys is trying to give off this angel energy, even though she is nowhere close to an angel. Most people buy into this pureness; that’s the kind of the story of Game of Thrones. This evil side of Daenerys comes out toward the end, and many people didn’t see it coming because she was selling this stuff like this, where she’s wearing all white looking like a cute little angel in this arena full of killers. The signs were all there, people!
The Costumes of Season 6
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Mariana: In Season 6, the war between the great kingdoms starts to take some main characters off the map. I’m going to choose Dany for this one. By the end of this season, we have her again in this Greek/Roman-style draped gown, like she used to wear on her very first costumes from the series. At this point, it’s her time to settle a little bit and go back to where she came from before heading to Westeros to claim her throne.
Daenerys is wearing dark colors again, and it is such a contrast coming from the white she was wearing in the past season. This costume is simple, yet powerful and bold. It is the side of her that we were missing for a while, the simplicity and sensitivity underneath it all. Also, in this scene, when she names Tyrion as Hand of the Queen, she looks trustful and faithful. Right after this point, everything’s going to collapse, so it’s an excellent point to start again.
Spencer: All right, so this next one is going to be a surprise to no one. Season six, I’m all about this Cersei Lannister look. It was the first costume I thought of, and no one can change my mind. This is one of the greatest costumes of all time. Cersei just had the entire Sept of Baelor blown up with a majority of her enemies inside, all with a glass of wine in her hand. Consequently, her last living child just jumped out a window. Things are going south. At this point, Cersei is out of, well, for lack of a better word, f***s to give. Instantly it’s like she takes all the red in her closet and packs it all into a cardboard box, and takes it to Goodwill. Suddenly Cersei is all about black and this black leather that she has going on.
I just love this dark look, and it’s all about armor. Cersei is just trying to protect herself at this point and protect Jamie and the throne; she doesn’t care about anything else at this point. Cersei is in a constant state of mourning and wears black leather and silk brocade.
One last thing that’s interesting, Cersei is dressed very conservatively at this point, and she’s done showing skin. Cersei is just completely covered from the ground up, which as we mentioned earlier, at this point in the show you’re going to notice the powerful women will always be completely covered up at this point. This is one of my favorites. I guess I should mention that the piano music from this episode, The Light of the Seven, is actually my ringtone.
Elizabeth: Okay, season six… Sansa. Sorry, but I was going through it, and the character development for her and how they show it is amazing. In the Battle of the Bastards, Sansa finally gets to be her own person, she ignores everything John says, and she takes control of the situation and little fingers army to do what she knows is right. She’s very much done with listening to everyone else because that’s what got her in this mess in the first place.
It’s hard to find a picture of the entire dress, but all of the detail is at the top of it so you can see what’s important. The dress is gorgeous velvet, and she has the Stark wolf embroidered across her chest. I am Sansa Stark, and nobody’s taking that away. She’s wearing a cloak draped over her shoulders with a full wolf hide as the trim at the top like her father used to because she’s also ready to rule. As I was looking through photos of the dress, it was funny. One of the captions said, this is Sansa clapping back, and it’s true. She’s taking control of the situation because she’s literally watching John drive the army into the ground at this point, and she’s like, I’m going to fix this.
The Costumes of Season 7
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Spencer: In season seven, during the most unusual circumstances, characters from all over Westeros must band together to survive. This was kind of a hard one for me to pick, but I settled on Daenerys Targaryen’s initial costume that she wears as she arrived at Dragon Stone. Dany is dressed very conservatively. This is her first step into Westeros.
This costume is all about intent. Daenerys is here on a mission at this point, and she’s not playing around. Her eyes are back on the prize, and she’s just full of intent. If you zoom in, as Mariana said earlier, you’ll see a dragon-scale-looking textile. This look also has a burnt appearance to me, representative of the trauma she’s gone through as we’re nearing the end. Dany has many great looks in this season, and I really could have picked any one of them. Also, you know I love a good cape; this is a good cape.
Elizabeth: Yeah, I love this one because she never wears armor, but with this, she’s like, I’m ready for battle, and I don’t believe we ever see her in a gown again. I think it’s all pants, and long tunics, because she’s here to get things started. Even in the Battle of Winterfell, she was running around and something kind of like this.
Spencer: Yeah, if I were a Game of Thrones character, this would probably be close to what I would be wearing if we are honest here.
Elizabeth: So mine is also going to be Daenerys.
Mariana: You might pick the one I want. I also have Daenerys.
Elizabeth: She has a lot of great costumes this season. In every scene, it feels like she’s wearing something new. I guess because she’s got that Esos money now, she can afford it. This is what I like to call her “Commander Dany” look because this is what she wears at all the war meetings. She’s got her long tunic and pants combo in charcoal grey trimmed in fur now that they’re in the North, But her accessories make this look. She’s got some sort of chain across herself like a lot of commanders in the show have. But it’s very unique. The chain has been made to look like the vertebrae of a dragon’s spine, and then at the top by her shoulder the three-headed dragon brooch. Attached to the broach is a beautiful deep burgundy cape with a dragon scale pattern.
Spencer: Is this the look you picked, Mariana?
Mariana: No, I chose another one!
Spencer: Wow, we got three different Daenerys looks. This is the season of Daenerys looks!
Mariana: Good! So my pick is, I think it’s the last one from the season: Dany’s white fur coat. This is the costume she is wearing when she saves Jon Snow from the White Walkers and loses her dragon in the battle. So, it’s very emotional, powerful, and bold. This coat is pretty much her armor, and it keeps the silhouette she’s been wearing the entire season, which is that of a warrior queen. The texture on the back of the coat, simulating a dragon-scaled vertebrate, is absolutely astonishing. Not only the intricate work put into it but also how much power it brings to her character.
The total evolution of how the dragon scale texture I mentioned some seasons before has evolved fully to the Mother of Dragons. An essential part of the costume is her silver dragon chain that she also uses with the previous costume. Also, the vertical lines on the fur coat, besides the technicality behind its construction, make her look more empowered. As a design choice, vertical lines will always imply superiority, so I think that was a clever choice. In addition, Emilia Clark is a short person, so that detail worked brilliantly for her.
“I can’t think of another time she’s gone to the aid of someone who is also, to some extent, a rival. It had to be a real statement piece. It looks very warrior queen, she’s a vision when Jon looks up and sees her arriving”.Michele clapton – costume designer
Spencer: I’m so glad that we picked the three essential Daenerys Targaryen looks, that wasn’t even planned!
Mariana: Yeah, every single costume Dany wears is a piece of art.
The Costumes of Season 8
Images Courtesy of HBO – Game of Thrones
Spencer: Okay, so, Elizabeth, you get to lead us through your favorite season of all time. Okay, to be fair, it’s not my favorite season either, but I still liked it. Your point is taken. We can save it for a podcast.
Elizabeth: Yeah, no, I just, I wish they had taken a couple more seasons, and I don’t like how Dany dies. Anyway, Season 8 brings us to the conclusion of Game of Thrones. Let’s get back to Sansa.
Throughout the whole series, Sansa goes from a sweet innocent lady to The Queen of the North. Her coronation dress is so beautiful and so powerful. You see, she takes a little advice from Cersei always to be wearing some armor; however, she incorporates it a little better. It’s not solid armor, it’s more like a cage, and you can see her gown underneath it.
The weirwood tree inspires the gown itself. It’s a whitish-grey color with a pattern mimicking leaves or bark and is full of details. It’s got the red leaves of the weirwood tree cascading down the back, which reminds me of Margaery’s first wedding gown with the roses and is a reminder of how much she influenced Sansa. She’s got her Wolf’s fur to reference back to her father. Also, there’s a very subtle fish scale pattern on the fur and sleeve for the Tully’s and her mother at the top.
Spencer: I also picked this look! Since you brought up what I was going to say, I’ll just read you a quote from Michele Clapton about this stunning gown.
“Her dress is made from the fabric I previously used to create her “Dark Sansa” look because I wanted to commemorate the first time that Sansa decided to fight for herself. The fabric has a secondary meaning as well- it is a visual link to Margaery Tyrell, who Sansa met during her days in the capital and who was kind to Sansa when no one else was”.
Michele Clapton continues by saying,” the gown has a full skirt made from many different panels in the style that Catelyn Stark favors, as well as long narrow sleeves. With the coronation, Michele built upon her look with several key points. “As part of the coronation ensemble, Sansa also wears an asymmetrical cloak, which has the same shape as a signature cloak I designed for Arya in the final season.” When addressing the cloak, Michele mentions, “Sansa’s cloak is attached to a neck pad, which gives her a silhouette similar to her late father’s.” The cloak is “embroidered to give it the fur-like texture seen on the dire wolf sigil and is lined in rabbit fur, a nod to Sansa’s rothers, who wore this kind of fur when they were young at Winterfell.”
The last note I want to leave is about the embroidery. “The fur-like embroidery travels down the sleeve of the cloak and transforms into Tully fish scales as a tribute to the sigil of her mother’s house. Beaded and embroidered red leaves inspired by Winterfell’s crimson-leaved weirwood tree appear to tumble from the sleeve, falling onto the train of the gown and pooling there.”Michele clapton – Costume Designer
Now THAT is some good quality costuming right there.
Mariana: My favorite one for this season is Arya. I love this costume, everything that she was achieving throughout the entire series comes to one single moment, and it’s this one. She is powerful, strong, fearless, and determined. Arya is finally wearing something that she’s comfortable with, and she is finally showing herself as a warrior and a smart girl.
She is also wearing the “commander cape” across her body, which gives her that power and authority. In addition, we can see some accurate details from medieval/renaissance costumes, like the sleeves, which were not sewn into the garment but tied with a cord. Also, I heard in an interview with Michele Clapton that armors in the north don’t have metal because it will get cold, so they are all using leather or fur, which I found to be such an interesting thing to have in mind and to keep it accurate through the whole series.
Spencer: Wow, we did it! We went through eight seasons of Game of Thrones costumes. That was a lot of fun, but now to make things really interesting… I think we should each go around and pick our favorite costume from the entire show! Cue the dramatic music!
Elizabeth: Oh no, that’s too much. I can’t decide that.
Mariana: OMG! This is going to be hard!
Images Courtesy of HBO – Game of Thrones
Spencer: Well, I’ll go first, but that is because mine is pretty straightforward. My winner is…surprise surprise, Cersei’s black gown from season 6, The Winds of Winter! I remember seeing this for the first time, and I stood up and started clapping. It’s the best. I love the textile, and I love the black leather. I love the armor on the shoulder pads and high neckline.
This is the best Cersei looks in the entire show; she just looks fantastic and in control. I know she’s pretty evil at this point, but she doesn’t really believe herself to be evil in her head. She sees herself doing the best for her family. That being said, her family is basically dead at this point, but you know where I’m going with this. So that’s my favorite costume. If I ever meet Michele Clapton, I want to thank her for this entire show, especially for this specific costume.
Elizabeth: I’m ready. Okay, so I’m choosing one that I didn’t already go over. I’ll explain why. So it’s Margaery in her almost her standard Tyrell dress with the flower belt blue velvet shoulder pieces, gold-embroidered roses on her bodice with an open back. This is her at her pinnacle when she’s manipulating Joffrey and climbing her way up to the top. She was my favorite character that season, and I cosplayed her later that year.
Mariana: My favorite costume will be Daenerys in her blue dress. First, because the transformation the character is going through in this particular moment is crucial for the entire series. And second, when I discovered the amount of detail going on in this dress, it blew my mind. I never thought something could be as symbolic and as perfectly done for a character. So, I’ll say this one is my favorite one, and as I mentioned before, I once tried to imitate the texture for a costume I made. It was a beautiful thing to reference, and I had lots of fun. So, yeah, this will be my favorite one.
Spencer: We did it. Thank you both for joining our first Game of Thrones roundtable. I’m sure we will do more in the future. Maybe at the 20th anniversary? Ugh, no, I can’t wait that long.
Mariana: Thank you again for this! I had a great time; it is amazing to find people who share your passion and obsession with particular series and costumes.
Elizabeth: This has been so much fun with you two, Game of Thrones is one of my favorite shows to talk about, and I hope we can talk about it more again.
2 responses to “The Costumes of Game of Thrones – The Iron Anniversary”
I never watched the show, however, your detailed analysis of the costumes that were created and worn by each of the characters is absolutely wonderful. It makes me want to go back and watch the whole series, just for the sake of the costumes. Well done guys.
Outstanding recap of an incredible and original series! I want to watch the series again, just to focus on the details of the costumes!