Movies and tv series

From Rags to Avant-garde Works of Art: Game of Thrones Stories of Costumes

09.04.2019 | By ELENA LONGARI

“The costumes for me are narrative and you should be able to look at them and understand where [the characters] are mentally in their journey’’

– Michele Clapton, Game of Thrones costume designer.

There’s something odd going on through the feeds of Instagram corresponding to any of the Game of Thrones characters hashtags. There are no captivating photos of the characters popping up, in one of their best poses, no Daenerys riding a dragon, no Mag the Mighty squashing anything on his way, no Jon Snow’s resilient stare at his opponents: what you will be hit by is a swarm of cosplayers attempting to replicate the most famous costumes worn by their favourite characters in their most poignant scenes. I have been scrolling for hours, and when I couldn’t take any more #instavertigo in from trying to spot the ‘real’ ones in the myriad of people dressed up as an actor has dressed up —hey, that’s what cosplay is all about, no?– I came to this silver lining.

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    Everyone finds excitement in dressing up like GoT, because Game of Thrones costumes are just sick AF. And it isn’t just a matter of incredible dexterity, mastery and creativity that allowed powerful, princessy and monstrous costumes to define the identity of this sensational TV series.

    What Michele Clapton has managed to do with her creations is to change the personality of the characters, giving them strength, or showing who they have to bend their knee for. Dresses, coats, accessories and the alternance of precious materials have been — and will be for one more season – more than just details you would pay attention to if have studied fashion design. Clapton’s costumes create the intricate and brutal world of Game of Thrones; there would be no GoT like we see it otherwise.


    This is why we are looking back at how the characters of Game of Thrones transformed alongside what they wore in the show. The question is, what will they be wearing next?


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    Daenerys Targaryen

    The Mother of Dragons changed ‘style’ pretty much all of the seasons of Game of Thrones, and the only feature she kept all along is her long silver/white locks, which she’s had in a multiple of braids only angels can weave. She went from her debut in flowy sleeveless long dresses in pastel silks matching her light hair hue, when she was no more than an exchange gift for the Dothraki’s army, to her Greek goddess wedding ceremony gown, marking a trait she quickly lost the following series of the show: vulnerability. Fragility had nothing to do with how she was now known as,  Khaleesi, a nomadic heroine dressed in leather, designed in a functional way for the ‘outdoors’. In season two she would be rising like a Queen, after she helped hatching the eggs of three dragons, and then was rescued by the leader of Quarth: she goes back to pristine dresses, in turquoise and white, but they show much more strength than in season 1.

    In season three Daenerys becomes a true conqueror, freeing the people of Slaver’s Bay. She wears plenty of blue, representing her image of ‘bringer of peace’ in a sort of Virgin Mary – they would call her “mhysa’’.


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    Season 4 sees her losing control over her baby dragons as well as the vicissitude across the Narrow Sea: she is spending much more time indoors and starts injecting white into her outfits.


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    In season five she appears in one head-to-toe dove-like gown, embodying peace, yet acting as if she had no mercy when she brutally watched the man she sentenced to execution die.

    It was all about to change as in season six Daenerys literally went back to her roots, wearing brown leather again.

    Season 7 costume design for The Mother of Dragons can be summed up in THE coat, as described by Clapton, it meant everything:

    “I didn’t want her to wear a crown, but I wanted her to wear something that signified status. There was a weightiness to it. I wanted her to have authority.”


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    Cersei Lannister

    Look at this, Cersei Lannister debuted tricking us all with her soft hairstyles and understated jewellery as if she was no one to be worried about in King’s Landing. 

    Come season 2 and Cersei’s hunger for power – which is written in any Lannister’s DNA – is loud and clear, after she plots Robert Baratheon’s murder: the gowns become dyed in deep red and with embroidery embellishing them, symbolising her power.

    Militaristic objects were all about giving Cersei her fighter soul and her wardrobe reflects that with the entrance of plenty of militaristic objects for season 3.

    It all went to black in season 4 as Cersei mourns the loss of her first child, Joffrey, although the presence of gold jewels symbol of Lannister’s power stays. And with losing her father in season 5, the black outfit stayed a little longer.

    Season six sees her yet in more funerals and this time round she looks stripped off of  her fierce personality, showing a vulnerable side to her with more ragged clothes and a short haircut. But it’s all a big fat lie, she is stronger than ever. 

    Season seven will celebrate Cersei’s dysfunctional personality with spikes, and Clapton motivates them like this:

    It’s almost like a sting in the tail, something on edge as you see her walk away: there’s something really disturbing about this woman


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    Sansa Stark

    Sansa Stark underwent a total transformation from her first scenes in Game of Thrones and to us she has been one of the characters that has been depicted by costumes greatly. She actually did have an interest towards sewing herself back in season one, when  she used to wear dresses she made herself, wanting to look like a ‘proper lady’.

    And that unfortunately turned into being forced to a ‘good little lady ‘role when she was made captive in King’s Landing; her hairstyles and clothes resembled Cersei’s.

    In season 3 she dresses red, exactly like Cersei and that became THE purple dress that accompanied her during her escape of King’s Landing in season 4.

    Season 5 sees Sansa escaping from brutalities, this time is from the twisted mind of Ramsay Bolton and for the occasion she defies her enemy under a dramatic hood.

    Season 6: this is when Sansa has officially taken a position of power in the show and to mark this she has sewn herself a blue dress featuring the Stark direwolf, owning her new title of Lady of Winterfell.

    In season 7 Sansa and Jon Snow work together ‘playing the game’ and both of them have gone back to their Northern styles.

    Jon Snow

    Jon Snow in a meme? Yes, we have GoT it. Although never did we see anything precious and regal on the bastard body in terms of clothes, he too transformed his outfit through the 7 seasons of Game of Thrones. The Night Watch black cloak is full of drama and strength, but he will give it all up for his Stark colours, brown and blue, matched with a pulled back hairstyle to nod at Ned Stark look.


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    Did you enjoy reading these extras about Game of Thrones? Then tune in with these editorials on the epic characters.