At the 2012 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, Game of Thrones costume designer Michele Clapton experienced a moment of profound doubt.
“During the show, I really wished I had submitted an episode with a lot of elegant gowns. But [creator/writer] David Benioff told me I should enter that episode. I questioned it but I did what he said."
By that episode, she means episode #208, “The Prince of Winterfell,” which focuses on Theon Greyjoy, a royal son of the pitiless Iron Islands. She and Benioff hoped this would show how the Greyjoys’ clothing protects them from the wind and waves and how the Wildlings’ garb mimics Inuit culture; with animal skins, bones and skulls worn as armor.
She needn't have worried. That night, she won her first Creative Emmy for Costume Design and celebrated until the wee hours with the whole GOT clan, all clearly over the moon for their six wins.
We caught up with Clapton recently and asked what her costume Emmy meant for the show. "It’s enormous," she admits. "I had my doubts that it would win because of the fantasy element. I'm really pleased that they [the voters] got it, really. All the awards we received confirmed that the show is being taken seriously and the wins take it out the fantasy arena. The first season the show was more of a curiosity but in season two people were much more involved in the story."
Obsessed is more like it. With the Season 3 premiere airing on March 31, we asked Clapton for some costume dish. The designer notes that Emilia Clarke's Khaleesi is maturing and becoming stronger.
“In my mind, she has become her own person this season. And she has her own style now that I hope she should stick with for a while," she says, adding, "And while Daenerys Targaryen is getting more secure, poor old Cersai (Lena Headey) is getting more and more insecure.”
In the premiere episode, we see the empowered Khaleesi wearing a bold blue sleeveless long dress with padded shoulders. She dons a matching royal blue cloak for the scenes with her new army.
Also blue-clad isNatalie Dormer, who plays Margaery Tyrell, and is angling to become Queen by wedding the cruel young King Geoffrey Baratheon. With her long brunette hair and sly Cheshire cat smile, she resembles a medieval Kate Middleton, wearing lots of blue and visiting the poor and downtrodden to win public approval. Cersai, by contrast, is seen wearing a lot of red, connoting strong emotions, fear and anger.
According to Clapton, color plays a pivotal role in foreshadowing characters’ futures. “We do all these sort of secret symbols, color hints about the ways the court is being influenced,” says Clapton.” They are just little things that people may not notice unless they really look."
We asked for examples but got no specifics. Instead Clapton hints again: “You can see the people who are getting the power by the way the court starts to dress. It’s just a small thing, a color here and there and it slowly escalates. I think it’s really important to do that because people tend to watch these episodes over and over again and later on box sets. So it's important that you don’t get everything on the first viewing."
It’s also important to note that Daenerys has some pretty powerful accessories: a trio of teenage dragons. And when we first see her, she’s wearing a set of what looks like dragon incisors around her neck, giving the impression that she's got real bite now.
While Khaleesi and Princess Margaery get costume changes, pity the poor Game of Thrones actors still wearing the same thing they wore in the first season, just as they would in real life.
“I’ve worn the same costume for three seasons,” Richard Madden, who plays Rob Stark, told us at the Game of Thrones premiere party. He has had it up to here with his filthy matted furry layers. “They’ve never washed it," he complained. "It's literally covered in horse manure and dirt… I mean, I stink, stink, stink!”