Game of Thrones can be classified as a lot of things. A sprawling, multigenerational family drama. A very twisted romance. A cautionary tale about the dangers of raising dragons and claiming power as your own. But a fashion show? Most viewers wouldn’t give Thrones the same style credit as Gossip Girl‘s and Grownish‘s of TV. Still, wardrobe has played a huge role in how the fantasy drama unfolded over the past eight years.
Whether it’s a sigil’s placement on a coat or a distinct dress pattern, the outfits worn by Houses Stark, Lannister, Targaryen, and Greyjoy are about so much more than Winter’s arrival. They’re often the first place that the showrunners will embed details about the characters—and where a ton of fan theories are born. Ahead of the final season, we talked to Game of Thrones costume designer Michele Clapton for an inside look at Westeros’ best outfits, from Daenerys’ angelic white fur coat to Cersei’s twisted Lannister crown. She confirmed that hidden meanings have “always” been a big part of wardrobe design in Westeros—a trend that will continue in the show’s final season.
Warning: This post is dark and full of spoilers.
Glamour: What, to you, is the most significant fashion moment from the past eight seasons? And why?
Michele Clapton: A number of designers say that they have been inspired by the designs on the show: Rick Owens, Helmut Lang, Alberta Ferretti for example. Some don’t say, but I can see an inspiration sometimes! But it’s a two way street, I’m influenced by them as well to be brave and to magpie like [and] steal from all around. Rick Owens and Hussain Chalayan were both a great influence on the northern silhouette. John Galliano and Alexander McQueen and Vivianne Westwood were also an influence due to their brilliant and brave cutting.
Hussein Chalayan really helped me find elements of the North’s silhouette, along with historical research. I also adore John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen for their brave and clever cutting. Sometimes it’s a family look, or a region like the North that influence looks, sometimes it’s an individual look. I believe Varvatos has recently bought out a GOT-inspired collection in conjunction with HBO, although I sadly wasn’t directly involved. I’m flattered.
It’s been reported that Jon Snow’s coat was made from IKEA rugs. Are there other character wardrobe staples this season that originated from a surprising place or places viewers might shop? If so, what?
Michele Clapton: No, I didn’t! It was not Jon Snow’s, it was Samwell’s and a few other of the Night’s Watch that wore them. We did it on the pilot when the budget and time were limited. It made sense, they continued to be used throughout the series. We aged the wool rugs and added heavy leather straps that crossed at the chest and buckled behind the waist to stabilize. They worked well.
Did any of the actors keep their costumes or anything from them?
Michele Clapton: Some small items. Earlier on we gave more pieces away, but as the show grew in popularity and we started to show the costumes in exhibitions, HBO wanted us to keep all. I seem to remember someone was gifted quite a memorable piece, not by me…we had to remake it!
It’s been said that Sansa’s hairstyles are influenced by her interactions with other characters on the show. Is this true of her costumes, too?
Michele Clapton: Yes, absolutely. I think you can see that she is influenced throughout her journey until she finally comes into her own style in Season 7. The look is a culmination of her difficult story. The ‘Little Bird’ initially copied the style of Cersei, when she first arrives in Kings Landing. She then retreats to the cut of her mother’s costume, a refuge, showing how she feels, wounded and scared, but she can’t speak it….she tells of her pain through embroidery and color.