finale “The Winds of Winter,” Cersei (Lena Headey) capped a season full of female domination by ascending to the Iron Throne. It was a complexly triumphant moment for Cersei—who had just killed off her enemies and exacted merciless revenge on those who humiliated her, but was also reeling from the loss of her last surviving child. In taking the crown, however, Cersei finally overcame the long-festering limitations of her gender.
To mark the character’s triumphant milestone, the show’s Emmy-winning costume designer Michele Clapton returned to the series to create the episode’s badass costume centerpiece—a coronation gown made from lightweight Italian-cut leather (from D’Alessio Galliano) and silver and black textured brocade (from London’s Altfield).
The feat was all the more impressive considering that Clapton had been working on a different series in Africa when she was called in to design four costumes for the season’s final two episodes, including the coronation gown.
“When they requested me, I couldn’t say no,” Clapton told us via e-mail on Tuesday. “There was to be a very short turnaround on this [dress]—four to five weeks—and I had to try to pull my team together to make it happen. Luckily, when I received the script I was immediately sure how this dress should look and Cersei’s direction. As soon I shared my sketches with [executive producers] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], they loved it, as did Lena. We were all of the same mindset.”
“I knew it had to be leather and I knew it had to be linked to [Cersei’s father] Tywin,” Clapton said of the design. “I wanted a distinct, strong silhouette, so I squared her shoulders. I also wanted the dress to skim her ankles, so that you could see her feet—again, strength.”
“The silver shoulders are decorated in a similar manner to Jaime’s gold hand—the one person that she still has something with,” Clapton explained, noting that every detail of the dress represents something. “There is no ‘decoration’ to Cersei.”
Given that every detail of the dress is significant, Clapton took great care in deciding on the precise color of the gown.
“Black was the obvious choice,” Clapton said. “Yes, it is for mourning her children, her father . . . but it’s more than that. To me, it represents a deadness inside her—the overwhelming desire for power at any cost. The multi-layered effect created by mounting the leather onto silver brocade gives a more complex feeling, implying that nothing achieved is ever simple.”
Even the metallic adornments were chosen to reflect this deadness inside Cersei—“because there is a coolness/ sharpness to it.”
Coincidentally, Clapton’s greatest challenge was designing Cersei’s crown—the same royal headpiece that it took Cersei six seasons and a lifetime of battles to attain.
“It is again the Lannister lion sigil in silver,” explained Clapton, “but we wanted it to be abstracted further. It took more time to develop—its mane now represents the iron throne.” With the new design, Clapton revealed, “Cersei has made it her own. She is reborn.”
When we first met Sansa in Season 1, the talented little seamstress was dead-set on dressing like the Southern ladies of Westeros. But after several transformations—including her dramatic dark look at the Eyrie—Sansa has reconnected with her Northern roots. Dressing more like her mother, Catelyn, last season and wearing her handmade direwolf dress with pride this year, Sansa is neither Lady Bolton nor Lady Lannister. She’s pure Stark.
Left, from Photofest; right, Courtesy of HBO.
When Margaery first arrived on the scene in King’s Landing, she was famous for plunging gowns with copious cutouts that betrayed her upbringing in Highgarden—one of the sunniest places in Westeros. She then adopted some slightly more regal attire, including a pair of stunning wedding dresses, when she married first Joffrey and then his brother, Tommen. But, sadly, Margaery did not go out in a blaze of fashion-forward glory. Still wearing demure threads meant to impress the High Sparrow, Margaery died in a turtlenecked gown. The indignity!
The first time we meet Daenerys in Season 1, she’s being forced to wear a floaty purple dress her brother Viserys picked out in order to sell her to Khal Drogo. We’ve seen the character go through a number of transitions since, from the green and brown leathers of the Dothraki to her Breaker-of-Chains-in-Blue period. Now the Dragon Queen is back in blue for her sea voyage to Westeros, this time with a regal caped dress—as if to announce her intention to immediately ascend the Iron Throne.
Some seriously questionable Season 1 hair decisions aside, Cersei Lannister’s look was pretty consistent over the first five years of
: flowing blond curls, red and gold robes, and a sneer that would put ice in your veins. But in Season 6, rocking a dramatic new pixie cut thanks to the Sparrows, Cersei adopted a more severe, masculine look. Opting for darker colors, including a
dramatic black gown for her coronation, Cersei, like Sansa and Jon, took on her own father’s look. And we all know how things turned out for
The little tomboy was never one for dresses or keeping herself clean—but after wearing the same grungy brown outfit for several seasons, actress Maisie Williams was relieved to have a change. When she hit Braavos in Season 5, Williams
asked designer Michele Clapton if she could burn her old costume. Now that she can swap faces, Arya may be wearing
new looks in the seasons to come as she disguises herself during her Westerosi murder spree.
The lady warrior isn’t too fond of changing up her look, but we shouldn’t forget that she got a major upgrade to her armor between Seasons 2 and 6. A gift from her traveling companion, Jaime Lannister, her shiny new suit of armor is the ultimate symbol of his regard. “The best way to do that is to give her something he would like,” Clapton
said. “Jaime isn't a particularly creative person, so the armor is quite functional.” The armor and sword, with its Lannister associations, keep getting Brienne into trouble—but how could she ever ditch such a thoughtful gift?
Daenerys first met Missandei back in Astapor, where long, flowing robes and a slave-esque collar seemed to be her wardrobe of choice. But after years working with Daenerys, Missandei has ditched the color and the robes in exchange for a hardcore leather top and pleated skirt combination. (In one strange fashion misstep this season, the translator
flared plaid pants. We’ll blame the Meereenese heat for that decision.) Missandei is quite fond of a bare midriff (we would be too, with those abs) and even wore her revealing leather ensemble on the open water.
Julie MillerJulie Miller is a Senior Hollywood writer for
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