We’re thrilled to present our readers today at Watchers on the Wall with another new feature for season 7! Game of Thrones’ Emmy-winning costumes have added meaningful layers to the show year after year, and helped expand a fantastic world. In a new weekly feature, guest writer Hogan McLaughlin will be sharing his expertise as a fashion designer and artist to take a deeper look at GoT’s costumes after each episode, with a thorough analysis on the effect and themes of this key element of the visuals of Game of Thrones.
– Sue the Fury
We’re in the Great Game now, and the Great Game means that there may be less and less costuming to dig into, especially after many major characters were wiped out last season. A blessing and a curse for costume analysis. Covering, say, Season 3 at the peak of budget and production value increase, with hundreds of significant characters, would have been slightly terrifying to tackle. Still, there are quite a few new motifs and silhouettes that the remaining major players are sporting, even if they end up being all variations on a theme throughout Game of Thrones season 7.
What struck me while watching, is how a few of my preconceived notions of the regional dress thus far in the series have slightly changed, while others have been completely turned on their head. I had always pictured the old Targaryen dynasty to be heavily laden with ancient Greek inspiration, but the imagery of Dragonstone’s exterior gate was extremely reminiscent of ancient Chinese architecture and carvings. Even the long walkway to the castle’s entrance had a “Great Wall” feel to it.
This, in turn, is echoed in Daenerys’ clothing. She has found home and is dressing accordingly. Dany’s costuming has gone though perhaps the biggest evolution of any character in the series, and now that she has arrived in Westeros, she has implemented a little piece of everything from her journey. She has her Dothraki riding boots and trousers, the Meereenese dress skirts, the similarly Asian-inspired structured shoulder treatments of Viserys’ armor in Season 1, and has topped it all off in the colors of her house (finally). The dragon scale embroidery and beading may be more elaborate than before, but it is done in muted colors that make a slow impact the longer you look at it, which marries poetically with her story line as the silent aggressor that has been growing stronger and stronger, and is now ready to rule.
Black and dark brown colors seem to be the theme this year, and rightfully so. Everyone is suited up for war- Dany, Grey Worm, Missandei, Tyrion, but Cersei, most of all. Her costume is not only an homage to Tywin’s leather doublets, but is equally her offense and her defense strategy. She couldn’t be more covered unless she was wearing a helmet or face mask. The imposing black is meant to intimidate her enemies, but it also protects her from them. There may be some survivors from the Sept explosion that witnessed her walk of shame, but they will never again see her in a vulnerable state.
When she is accepting visitors at court, she ups the ante even further by wearing neck and shoulder pieces with heavy silver and metal embroidery emblazoned with Lannister lions and silver spikes. The over-the-top embellishment is in direct contrast to Dany’s subtle details. Cersei is beyond subtlety anymore. Her Queensguard are clad in all black with her Iron Throne-crown stamped on their chest. It is interesting to note that while Cersei has gone full black and silver, and is essentially calling the shots for all of House Lannister, Jaime’s gold and red armor remains. It is most likely another defense mechanism to show that while Cersei is sitting on the Iron Throne, and while she and Jaime are the last Lannisters “that count,” the pride of the house is still as strong as ever and the golden lion banners will fly in the face of all their enemies.
Cersei’s guest, Euron Greyjoy, arrives to see her in her full regalia. He, however, is not in his courtly finest. He cockily swaggers about in a disheveled manner that a pirate would. No doubt he has raided much of the leathers and textiles he is wearing to create the jarring look. The doublet was probably meant to be worn under a suit of armor but he is there proposing marriage and chivalry isn’t his bag. In his slight madness and entirely likely intoxication, Euron most certainly thought this “sexy” and unkempt approach would get Cersei’s attention. The star motif baffles, though…
Up North, Jon Snow has gone full Eddard Stark in his dress. The weather is dropping rapidly and the furs are piling up for warmth, but the leatherwork and direwolf sigil in the armor is instantly recognizable.
Browns and charcoal-blacks seem to be the northerners’ battle colors, as Sansa has even embraced them and eschewed her usual purples, blues, even her Stark-embroidered battle dress. She is dressing more like her brothers now- Robb and Bran have worn very similar styles to her bodice and her furs reflect her father’s. It is her take on a masculine look of the North. Still, like Dany, Sansa has created a hybrid look of all of her experiences that have brought her to where she is now. She keeps her “needle and eye” necklace that served as a pivotal costuming plot point for her in Season 4, but there are elements of the other women that have taught her life lessons- both good and bad. Her neckline is very similar to Cersei’s new battle gowns, her hair is a mix of both northern and southern styles, and even her shoulder cuffs bring Margaery’s Season 3 gowns to mind. Everyone has reached their final evolution and is ready to fight to the death.
A few stray thoughts:
I enjoyed how Arya is wearing the brown colors of the North while sharing a fire and food with the Lannister soldiers in their red armor. It was a nice meeting of North and South free of hostility (save for Arya’s Queenslaying comment).
Dolorous Edd and the other members of the Night’s Watch are dressing exactly like Jon- from the beards to the slicked long hair.
Perhaps Bran and Meera will get snazzy new leathers now that they are at Castle Black?
Hogan McLaughlin is an American fashion designer, artist, and dancer. He began his professional career as a ballet dancer, performing with the internationally acclaimed Hubbard Street 2 and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. In 2011, he met and collaborated with artist Daphne Guinness on his first garments, which ended up on display in the windows of Barneys New York Madison Avenue, and at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Later that year, McLaughlin launched his first collection under his name, and was subsequently profiled by The New York Times, WWD, Vogue.com, among other publications, and had the opportunity to create custom looks for a number of high profile clients including Lady Gaga. As an illustrator, he has had the pleasure of creating promotional images for HBO’s Game of Thrones in multiple seasons of the DVD “Histories and Lore” features, as well as images for Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, and History Channel’s Vikings.