EMMYS: 'Game Of Thrones' Costume Designer Michele Clapton Kept Fantasy Real

Deadline Contributor Elizabeth Snead files this report:

Michele Clapton first began to research designing costumes for Game of Thrones, HBO’s series based on A Song of Ice and Fire, by poring over George R.R. Martin’s complex fantasy novels about family, loyalty, lust, betrayal, revenge, and power, to learn the legend and lore of his seven mythical kingdoms of Westeros. Together with production designer Gemma Jackson, Clapton decided that the characters’ costumes should reflect the distinct cultures based on their environment and lifestyle. “So often fantasy film costumes are just too thin,” Clapton complains. “They don’t resonate with the society they’re supposed to be living in. They don’t look real. I wanted people to believe in these characters and their dramas and to smell their costumes.”

Another challenge was creating a fantasy world that didn’t focus on a particular country or time period. So Clapton drew her inspiration from Mongols, the Inuit, Scots, Vikings, Bedouins, Native American Indians, etc. Making each garment took a week, but breaking them down to look authentic on high-definition took two weeks of steps. “You dye it and completely trash it, and then you have to age it, and then you trash it again and repair it. If you try to do, in a short time, what might have happened to a garment in 10 years of living, it won’t work. You can’t just stick a couple of patches on it and spray it with dirt because that’s exactly what it would look like.”

Clapton eventually chose Episode One (“Winter is Coming”) for her Emmy submission:

—“The Wall, where the King’s night watch stands guard, is very minimal, basic, and primitive. The costumes are dark, predominately black and grey, and layered with fur pelts and touches of Himalayan, Mongol and Eskimo cultures. The men won’t wear metal because it’s too cold.”
— “Winterfell and the House of Stark have a bit more of comfort, but it’s still very stark and stoic. There is not much to do, so the women embroider. Also, these people hunt, kill things and eat them, and their clothing would reflect that. I did try using fake fur to make things, but it doesn’t work, especially on HD.”
— “When you move to the south and to King’s Landing, the capital of Westeros and where the House of Lannister is, it’s a port city with a warmer climate. There is an opulence to the court as a society influenced by its environment, with brighter colors, intricate jewelry, exotic fabrics. What the royals wear, the styles, if not the ornate fabrics, filters down to the masses.”
— “In the lands of the Dothraki, we based their high heel boots on Afghan horse riders. I also looked at American Indian and African tribes who live in tents and are constantly on the move. They wear a lot of horse leather. They decorate with feathers. They raid places and steal jewels, which I guessed they give to their women. So the jewelry was woven or strapped on.”

  1. They don’t look like costumes. They look like what the people ought to be wearing – which is a total credit to the designer. Bravo!

  2. Very creative design. You can’t really place the period of the clothes, which is what I like. I hope she wins

  3. The costume and production designs really help to ground the whole show. Everyone does great work on Game Of Thrones, but damn, you don’t even think twice as the show transitions from locations and characters for the production team has created a world that is so dynamic and vivid, always organic and yet never over the top, forced, or phony. As a result, you can really just hone in on story and performance.

    Unlike other shows on some of the other networks…

  4. They will win an Emmy for this. amazing work. i would love to wear a lot of the stuff they made.

  5. Hope Clapton wins. Beautiful costumes. Would love to wear a couple of dresses Cersei wore and Dany’s wedding dress. Gorgeous material.

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,231 other followers