We’ve come to the final official Game of Threads. It’s been a great ride. I want to take a quick minute to thank everyone at Watchers for this wonderful opportunity to nerd out over the costumes and flex my writing muscles in ways I usually don’t get to, and to be able contribute this small offering to a fandom that I feel so privileged to be a member of. It blows my mind to think that almost 10 years ago, I was posting my fanart on Tumblr and Twitter, which led to me to meeting the site-runners here, and the rest is history.
But I digress…we are here to talk costumes! I know that there are many differing opinions on how the story wrapped up, but one of the things that we can all agree on is the consistently beautiful work coming from the wardrobe department, and Michele Clapton delivered everything in the final moments of heading this mammoth project since Season 1.
We open post-sack of King’s Landing, where Tyrion, Jon, and Arya, look on as Daenerys steps out to address her forces on the steps of the Red Keep. She is wearing the same embossed leather coat that she wore in last week’s episode, but the “becoming the dragon” motif is driven further home with the epic shot of Drogon’s wings unfurling behind her. Her hair is even arranged in a way that it actually looks like a dragon spitting fire. A reader last week commented that the color treatment of the coat looks as if it’s been charred with the red at the hem, which is an amazing observation, and I would also add that it looks almost blood-soaked- as if she’d been wading through the bodies of those she’s massacred. As she enters the throne room, it’s interesting to juxtapose the costuming between this scene and the vision of this scene back in the Season 2 finale. Then, she still wore leather, but it was created in lighter colors. She still had an innocence to her and an indefinite plan as to how to get what she wanted. Here, we see a ruler, hardened by the atrocities she’s endured, wearing an equally hardened outfit.
Attention should be paid to the fact that Jon is still wearing the Stark sigil, even after accepting that his parentage is half-Targaryen (“Then I’d be fire and blood too!”). Granted, he didn’t have much time to create a new set of armor after the battle of Winterfell, but stranger things have happened at an even quicker pace in the GoT world. Still, when Dany meets her end at the hands of Jon, they are very much embodying their sigils- her in black and red, and him in grey and black. They are visually the song of ice and fire.
With the aftermath of Jon’s queenslaying, we cut to a few weeks later where the lords and ladies have gathered in their finest to figure out what comes next. Sansa is naturally wearing her leather armor, showing the group of mostly men that she will be heard and respected. Gendry gets a nifty new lordly, Baratheon outfit, rendering him a dead ringer for a younger Robert. The claw-like slashes in the leather could be paying respects to Dany, who elevated his to the position he’s in now, but it’s also symbolic of his father’s warrior status, and brings to mind the warrior paint that Drogo wore on his shoulders. The reintroduction of the beautiful costumes of House Arryn is always a treat.
Edmure, bless him, is wearing a beautiful brownish-gold tunic that creates the illusion that the textile is fittingly made of fish leather. The rest that we do know are wearing what we’d expect them to, and those that we don’t know, all seem to be following suit. I do find it curious, and this is just my assumption, that Sam seems to be the only representative from the Reach, the largest region in Westeros. Aside from the new prince of Dorne, most others look like they exist further up the map.
As Jon readies himself to rejoin the Night’s Watch, he meets with his three siblings before shipping off. Sansa and Arya are still in their leathers, but Bran has taken on his kingly role is beautiful fashion. This might be one of my favorite male character’s costumes in the entire series. The lush, royal, deep blue velvet is embroidered with feathers that seem to rise up towards his head, evoking all of the world’s stories that reside inside Bran’s head. The feathers are obviously representative of his role as the Three Eyed Raven, but the color still ties him to his family and his Stark name, while also conveying the “hope” of blue that Clapton employs when characters are faced with new life paths. I only wish we could’ve seen what his crown looks like…
In the final montage between the other three siblings, we see a shift in their respective styles- most notably their hair. Both Jon and Arya have put to rest the wearing of Ned’s signature style. They’ve been able to close that bloody chapter of their lives that arguably began with his death. Jon lets his hair return to how he wore it before he was killed and brought back to life, making his resurrection, visually, come full circle. He’s able to let his hair down (literally) and leave his past behind him. Arya’s hair is swept back in a no-nonsense bun, fit for an explorer. Sansa also leaves her past behind her with her hair. She’s no longer wearing the hybrid Cersei-Catelyn-Margaery braids she’s been cycling through on her brutal journey while coming into her own. I was getting heavy Elizabeth I imagery throughout her portion of the montage, and Renaissance expert Anthony Oliveira illuminated beautifully in a Tweet that
“Elizabeth wore [her hair] down at her coronation to signal sexual purity, in open hostility to those who said her sexual abuse ruined her.”
Quite a fitting allusion for Sansa.
Then we get to the DRESS! This stunning dress. This absolute work of art. Unlike her unburdening herself with the history of her hair, she chooses to pay homage to all of the important people that shaped her life and lead her to become Queen in the North. First and foremost, the color calls back to her Season 1, Episode 1 pale blue dress, where she discusses her excitement of one day becoming queen. The metal bodice, cut in the shape of her leather armor bodice, features a Weirwood Tree motif, a symbol of her family, which is also represented in the red leaves that are embroidered into the inside of one of the sleeves.
The fabric itself is the same exact silk with woven leaves that was used for Margaery Tyrell’s wedding dress from her marriage to Joffrey. I have to have an aside here because I saw it immediately and it warmed my heart so much that my two favorite characters were connected at the very end. I thought maybe it could’ve just been a fluke, until Clapton confirmed it on her Instagram page, stating that they shared a bond (that Sansa clearly wanted to honor), and then my heart exploded. Anyway, moving on.
The most obvious homage is the beaded direwolf pelt over her shoulder, honoring her family. The delicate beading features black feathers, which have layered meanings. It represents her past when she once was a “little bird”, it represents Jon’s reinstated “crow” status up North, it represents Bran, the Three Eyed Raven, down in King’s Landing, and to an extent, it represents Littlefinger and his mockingbird sigil. The direwolf seems to continue down into the other sleeve, but the embroidery also evokes fish scales, which call back to her mother’s Tully roots. Finally, and maybe a bit eerily, her direwolf crown has a similar feel to it as Cersei’s coronation crown. Cersei had such an impact on her and, for better or worse, Sansa will always carry her lessons with her.
The fact that Michele Clapton’s hands are the ones dressing Sansa is a single-tear moment :’)
It truly blows my mind that this is the end of the consistently gorgeous work that comes from Michele Clapton, Michele Carragher, Kevin Alexander, and the rest of the wardrobe and hair team. I want to personally thank them for bringing Westeros to life, and thank you to the readers here for joining me these past few seasons. It’s been an honor.
Don’t forget to pre-order the Game of Thrones: The Costumes book!