Followers of Daenerys Stormborn have been waiting many years for her to proudly wear the colors of House Targaryen. And yet, she wore blues during her liberation campaign and whites during her rule of Meereen. Award-winning costume designer Michele Clapton has made us wait, and for good reason. Now that Daenerys is finally on Westeros, the wait is over: blacks and reds are here to stay.
That said, as much as she’d like to, Daenerys isnˋt the only queen around. Cersei Lannister rules King’s Landing and Sansa Stark is the Lady of Winterfell (and presumably a princess.) Their clothing choices tell just as deep a story as Dany’s, and Clapton is open to decipher exactly what these stories are and tell us about them.
Kim Renfro did this wonderful interview with Game of Thrones costume designer Michele Clapton for INSIDER, where you can read the whole interview.
“People used to say, ‘Well, why doesn’t [Daenerys] wear red?’ Now you do finally start seeing it creeping in through the scaling and embroidery on her dresses,” Clapton revealed. “It’s just a touch.”
“Sometimes you have to wait for that — you have to wait for the journey and for them to seek it out … Finally we’re getting the [Targaryen] red. She was a confused woman, she was wandering … trying to seek something. And now she’s finally got her armor, she’s finally got everything, and she can finally echo the style of her brother with the extended shoulders and the red and the symbolism. He always had the big Targaryen [sigil] on his chest and now she’s got the big chain with the dragon’s heads on it.”
“I didn’t want her to have a crown, I wanted her to have a chain. And she has a red sash hanging from it, which is slightly scaled and pleated as well … You can have the chain, but until you get the throne you’re not queen. I liked that she’s wearing everything she can to show her status but she can’t wear the crown because it’d be wearing it before it was due … [Dany]’s almost assuming the power but not quite. With all the colors and the details and the essence — it just becomes stronger. The width of the shoulders give her strength, the chain gives her strength. I tried to make the cut of the costumes just slightly more like a uniform and almost less feminine.”
This philosophy of costumes following the character’s evolution also involves Cersei:
“This is the time when it’s all really going to matter, and so there’s a power play between her and Cersei. It’s like a standoff. And I think they’ve both reached a place where it’s not about femininity, it’s about their strength as women. They are the leaders, and so the femininity doesn’t come as quickly into it.”
“With Cersei, at this point, she’s attained the throne and there’s a strength in her embroidery. It’s actually quite ornate and over the top and that’s a precursor in a funny way — it’s the last gasp before something else, in my sense. It’s a weird flamboyance, but it’s quite hard as well. And we’ve also shortened her dress so it makes her less vulnerable. She can move and she can be a little bit like Dany in a way, because it’s not quite as restrictive. [Cersei] always had strong collars and strong shoulders, so I thought this [dress] should take it the furthest I can take it before it’s not there.”
Then there is Sansa, who may not be a queen on her own right, despite many of us crying out “Queen in the North!” as season six drew closer to a finale, but she is a woman in a position of power in a newly independent kingdom, she’s the Lady of Winterfell, and as Robb’s and Jon’s sister she is a princess as well… and who knows what else may happen in the future! At any rate, her queenly credentials are more than enough for Clapton to consider her alongside the two warring queens:
“She has the chain she has the circle, she’s bringing all that she’s been through to her costume,” Clapton began, referencing Sansa’s raven dress from season four. “You need to look at the story. Her strength and the way that she’s clothed to protect herself from the things that have happened. At the same time, she’s beginning to assert herself as an independent woman and not actually being manipulated by anyone anymore.”
Every little detail tells a story, and that appears to be Clapton’s credo: “the costumes for me are narrative and you should be able to look at them and understand where they are mentally in their journey. I think they’ve all found a strength and achieved something.”
I very much encourage all of you to read Renfro’s entire interview with Clapton. She really gets into how the path of these characters directs her choices for their costumes.