Game of Threads: Dragonstone

Team Daenerys

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.

Daenerys

Daenerys on Dragonstone

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.

Cersei and Jaime Dragonstone

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.

Cersei and Jaime Throne Room Dragonstone

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.

Euron Greyjoy Dragonstone

Euron Dragonstone 2

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…

Jon Snow Dragonstone

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.

Littlefinger Sansa Dragonstone

Sansa Stark Dragonstone

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:

Ed Sheeran Arya Dragonstone

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).

Edd Dragonstone

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.

42 responses

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    1. Not really a costume but Euron’s ships looked great.

      Like Hogan, I also enjoyed Arya with the Northern gear and the Lannisters in red. It was strange how casual and normal that felt.

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    2. Dany looks like a Goth in the pic on the beach, I like it!

      Mind you most of them look like Goths to be fair…

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    3. Re Dany’s costume: “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.”

      Love these points! Like great art, the more you look at it, the more you see. And the connection with Dany’s character, strong but holding back until she is ready. Had to post this right way because that quote is spot-on! Now to finish reading the post…

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    4. GREAT POST! I am so exited about “Game of Threads”!! it may become by favourite section of WOW.

      Love you guys! great job!

      now, if you make a section about weapons and warfare, my boyfriend will be very pleased

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    5. I think they’re really overdoing the black this year. Dany, Sansa and Cersei appear to have coordinated on a single “powerful woman” aesthetic.

      I like Jon’s new outfit. I wish he had a crown, though. When you’re proclaimed king you should wear a crown.

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    6. I like the point about how different elements of Cersei’s and Sansa’s dresses represent different periods of their lives and their growth as a character. I had forgotten how much leather Tywin wore until the point was made here, it may give Cersei some connection to her father along with protecting her. And that point about her clothing as protection (from her emotional experience with the walk of atonement or metal embellishments to protect her from a physical attack) is fascinating.

      For Euron’s star motif…I kept looking at that on a rewatch wondering about it myself. My guess is that the 5 pointed star may be a image used on sea charts and compasses (I assume they use sea chart and compasses) and that may be why they how up in his costume. After all he is the self-proclaimed greatest captain on the 14 seas. Oh, I agree with another poster – I love his ship!

      Really enjoyed this post Hogan and I look forward to more in the future. Thanks!

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    7. I love, love, love having a guest piece from actual show creators! This is wonderful. I hope that we might also be getting to hear from David Peterson (right?) later on.

      I find it striking that Sansa’s costume seems as queenly, strategic, and powerful as Dany’s and Cersei’s. I miss the frills and gorgeousness of seasons past (especially all things Margaery), but I realize that the plot of this season will be dark and the costumes should support that.

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    8. Sean C.,

      I think it’s pretty clearly deliberate that Jon doesn’t wear a crown–it’s symbolic of the fact that he isn’t motivated by the pursuit of power. Every position of power he’s ever held has been assigned or thrust upon by him by others. Being the most traditional and (for the most part) selfless heroic character, he doesn’t go chasing after it, it comes to him. Not to mention that Northerners as a culture are more grounded and very much averse to displays of extravagance.

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    9. This is by far the most exciting new feature on Watchers for me. The costumes have always fascinated me but I’ve never felt qualified to comment on them at this level. Hogan is more than qualified, and he brought the goods here! What an amazing piece. I’ll be looking for Game of Threads each week, especially as I’m already looking forward to his look at certain costumes seen in trailers and promo pictures.

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    10. Thanks for this, I love the costuming and it doesn’t get enough praise. I suppose it’s easier now that half the cast has been written off, lol. Looking forward to this.

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    11. Typically, I usually only read this site. I rarely comment, but I have some free time this summer. Anyhoo, this feature is great. I absolutely love it.

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    12. I am hoping Dany gets some ‘fighting-armor’ tho don’t think it will happen.
      Some modest body armor protection. A helm! Jez D&D just hate helms!
      A dragon saddle , I don’t even know how she stays on Drogon now.
      Somewhere the red and black sigil on her attire , its on the flags.
      And a crown, I disagree with the excuse given for her not having one.

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    13. Another great idea for a weekly feature! I’ve always been able to abstractly appreciate the amazing amount of thought, work, and detail that Michelle Clapton and her team weave into all of the characters’ costumes, and superficially admire them both for their obvious aesthetic prowess and some of their more obvious elements of symbolism. But a deeper insight into their craftsmanship and significance of the show’s costumes has always been far beyond my capabilities. I’m glad that we’ve got an expert on hand for Season 7 to break it all down!

      Welcome to the Wall, Hogan!

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    14. I’ve admired the costuming on GOT for years. The beauty of the clothing, particularly the beading and detail on the gowns can get overlooked because so much is always going on. This show is visually stunning in every way.

      The dress that Cersei is wearing in the map room is gorgeous. I want it!

      Anyway, love this feature. It’s a nice addition to the site.

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    15. I haven’t posted on this site in over a year–some of the voices were getting old–but I do so love this new feature. As an artist and teacher myself, I often find myself pausing the show to more closely examine outfits or take notes.

      One thing I want to ask you, Hogan: why did you associate the Greeks with the Targaryens? I always associated them with a culture a bit more hard than the Greeks. Not Chinese, though. But you are right on in the Great Wall comparisons. Have you seen the Lady Dai textile?

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    16. If it was just Jon, that would be one thing, but no non-Iron Throne-sitting monarch in this series has worn a crown other than Renly (briefly).

      Also Euron. During his demand for building 1,000 ships, I joked the largest single piece of wood in the entire Iron Islands was atop his head. 🙂

      A helm! Jez D&D just hate helms!

      For Emilia Clarke specifically, there’s no way they spent all of that money on her silver-hair wigs just to cover each one with a helm.

      For all major-character actors in all costume-dramas, their faces will be shown, no matter how obvious their need for protection in the situation their characters are in.

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    17. Sean C.,

      Euron has the Driftwood Crown (though he hasn’t worn since it his coronation at the Kingsmoot last season, and it’s probably unlikely we’ll see him wearing it again anytime in the near future) and Margaery had her own crown for a while during the period of time she was married to Joffrey (himself an Iron Throne-sitting monarch), but those aside, I do believe you’re correct.

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    18. I am SO looking forward to this “chain-mail” dress that Cersei is wearing in this video, I guess is from the finale.

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    19. Though my own fashion sense could be described as “sub-ragamuffin,” I really enjoyed this. Looking forward to more of Hogan McLaughlin’s couture commentary.

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    20. Sean C.: If it was just Jon, that would be one thing, but no non-Iron Throne-sitting monarch in this series has worn a crown other than Renly (briefly).

      Can we at least give Viserys an honorable mention?

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    21. Tensor the Mage, Whose Knowledge of Matters Sartorial Normally Ends At His Robe,: Also Euron. During his demand for building 1,000 ships, I joked the largest single piece of wood in the entire Iron Islands was atop his head.

      LOL

      Alvaricomg,

      I’d love to see Cersei hack and slash her way through a battlefield in that get-up, though I suspect she’s just a militaristic chicken hawk waving the flag while leading from behind.

      But enough about Donald Trump…

      I’m here all week, folks.

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    22. Hogan, thank you for sharing your expert take on the new costumes. You are so right–The more you look at it, the more you see. I simply love the scales on the shoulders that look like dragon crests and/or wings. And the line of leather stitching that runs down the sleeves then expands into scales on her wrists is a fantastic, subtle detail and practical too. Because, correct me if I’m wrong, but with this kind of medieval pattern, they would have had to sow pieces of leather together resulting in quite a few seams. So instead of trying to hide the seam, they used it as part of the decorative detail. I can’t imagine the amount of work these costumes must have taken.

      ETA: Also all the black doesn’t just signify war, it signifies grief. All sides have lost their loved ones. However, one could say that Cersei wears her black for a show of grief whereas Jaime’s grief is sincere.

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    23. I have lurked on this site for years and obsessively devoured every photo, preview, and recap, but I finally commented because I wanted to say thank you! I love thinking about the costumes and what it signifies about each character and their motivations. I can’t wait to read the rest of the season.

      Also, any thoughts about the parallel between Cersei and Sansa who have armored themselves for war but also as protection against the trauma they have experienced? They were both once in a place of helplessness — Cersei’s imprisonment and then walk of shame and Sansa married to psychopath and rapist Ramsey — but now they are in a place of power and protection. Cersei is a queen with zombie Mountain as her protection and Sansa is home in a Stark-controlled Winterfell with Brienne as her sworn sword. Not only are their clothes as indication for war but also “nobody is going to mess with me.” Sansa literally has her clothes girded and chained to her. I’m totally rambling but wanted to put that out there.

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    24. zod,
      spoiler covered just for those that don’t watch preview trailers:

      “I believe you have a role to play… as does another.” – Melisandre
      That line and/or line of conversation should fire up some good discussion about Jon & Daenerys again. To tell the truth, I don’t think I ever considered scenes with Daenerys and Mel together until this offseason. It’s another interesting pairing. Daeny doesn’t seem like one that would enjoy being spoken to in riddles and such. 😛

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    25. I think Dany’s costume evolution through the whole series has been really fascinating. Even though we only had Viserys to go off of, she does look very Targaryen now.

      I’d love to know the designer reasoning for Cersei going black and silver instead of gold. I get the black and mourning but she seems to have become quite cold regarding all her dead children anyway. Is it to show a degree of separation between her and Jaime? I’d have quite loved some over the top but armoured black and gold outfits for Cersei.

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    26. Hogan, I loved your panel at Con of Thrones, am so happy I met you, and am thrilled that you will be bringing us your perspective every week! I have always enjoyed the costuming, but your commentary will help me to appreciate all the details even more.

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    27. Loving this new feature !

      There are so many details of the costumes that might be skipped because everything goes so fast, it’s really interesting to get into them through Hogan’s expert eye.

      Donna Longo,

      Ned was the Warden of the North, not the King. 🙂

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