by Hogan McLaughlin
I was concerned that as the Game of Thrones season progressed, there might not be much to keep pulling from as the battles begin to rage. Game of Thrones has always used costuming tactically but gone are the days of Margaery Tyrell’s backless gowns and Cersei’s Lannister-red robes. As I mentioned last week, everyone is in battle-mode so they’ve found a look that effectively works for them and are sticking to it. However, while “Stormborn” doesn’t provide many new and exciting costumes, it does give us some insight into the minds of the characters and why their tactics are evident in their clothing.
We open the episode at Dragonstone and it is obvious that this is the same day that Daenerys & Co. arrived because they are all wearing the same garments from the previous episode. Still, it is a happy coincidence that Dany is still wearing one of her more elaborately decorated outfits because she is asked for an audience right away. Melisandre enters in her usual red travel robes. Quickly it becomes obvious that Dany doesn’t need to prove anything to her, by way of heraldry and costume.
Cersei, however, still feels the need to exact power over her courtly guests. She addresses Randyll Tarly and the other Lords of the Reach in her same coronation outfit because they weren’t there to bear witness to it the first time, and also because she knows that Randyll won’t be wowed by the heavy embellishments of the neckpiece she received Euron in. Euron likes ostentatious dress so he was no doubt taken with the theatrics. Randyll is a military man, so Cersei dresses the part. She’s in the same Tywin-inspired battle gown to exact her power, and tops it off with her military shoulder armor. She looks the part of both royal queen and army commander. Interestingly, the underdress is the same as the one she wore in the previous episode while speaking with Jaime, but she feels able to rid herself of the armor with him. Partly because she loves and trusts him, partly because she knows he fears her regardless of what she’s wearing. While in the dungeons with Qyburn, she removes her crown but keeps her shoulder armor, signaling that she still needs to keep her trusted advisors as arm’s length.
Dany, again, takes a subtler approach with her advisors. During the war council, she wears the same silhouette of her “homecoming” dress, but the embroidery and beading are gone and replaced with a scale-like textile and a silver dragon pin. These women have come to talk strategy. They have already pledged their support to the Targaryen cause so formalities by way of clothing are unnecessary.
Olenna wears a very stripped-down version of her signature look. She will be in mourning for however long she lives and is now beyond the pretense of wearing golden roses, exaggerated shoulders, and any color at all in her gowns.
Ellaria is wearing what is considered to be the masculine Dornish costume. Her coat is the same shape as Oberyn’s in Season 4, as well as every male in court at Sunspear in Season 5, but her signature pointed shoulders are implemented. She has entered the fold for vengeance for Oberyn so, in turn, she is dressing like him. Interestingly, the dominant colors in the brocade are blues and mauves, which were the colors we mostly saw Prince Doran wearing when he was ruling. Ellaria now has control over the region so she is also dressing like their prince.
Yara is wearing her same armored out-of-battle clothing that we’ve come to expect from her.
While the Dornish fleet sails home, the company is attacked by Euron. No one has time to change into full armor so the Sand Snakes rush to put their breastplates over their coats that they are already wearing. Like their mother, they had been taking the full masculine look in place of the embroidered organza gowns we saw them all (save for Obara) in before they murdered Doran.
Euron’s armor is surprisingly restrained when compared to how he presented himself to Cersei in the last episode. Perhaps it’s the way the scene was shot but the color registers as a much deeper black than any other character’s black costume. Not surprising, as he is in full villain mode.
In a final heartbreaking costuming choice, Theon and Yara are dressed almost identically to show unity, until Theon’s tragic past comes back to haunt him.
A Few Stray Thoughts
Missandei, Grey Worm, and Tyrion are all wearing outfits that directly echo Dany’s new silhouette. Additionally, the Unsullied armor and Dany’s clothing are unified though the shoulder treatment.
It’s uncanny how much Arya is dressed to look like her father.
The difference between what the Tarlys wear to court and what their lords, the Tyrells, wore is like night and day. Randyll sees zero need for finery.
With everyone around him wearing big, fur-trimmed cloaks for practical purposes, Littlefinger still insists on wearing his signature look, even if it is lined for the cold.
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.