GAME OF THRONES//MICHELE CLAPTON

 
 
 
The great thing is, in Game of Thrones it’s not clear cut. Everyone has faults, even Daenerys. I mean we see her fail quite a lot, we see her misinterpret. We see her do the wrong thing, and I like the fact the characters are fathomable. That’s the funny thing, you get these things in your head. Daenerys is going to be good and she’s going to take the kingdom and then she makes mistakes, and you think I don’t know, maybe she’s not so good. It’s always twisting and changing – and I think it’s just, it’s just real. It’s how people are. It’s exploring characters to that extent and trying to understand what they are, as a human not just a character.
— MICHELE CLAPTON - DESIGNER - GAME OF THRONES

author. Karenza Fafoo

 

Game of Thrones - Michele Clapton 
I’m hovering around the side of the Bowling Green tent, behind temporary festival fencing. The women emerge from a smaller cream canvas camp. A man with varying cameras hanging from one shoulder, and a robust baby carrier looking Manfrottoesque foam backpack, with ergonomic straps, lurches into action. His mild grey shirt tucked wistfully into tight black jeans. With a dramatic toss of his head, to fling apart his curtained fringe. He plants one white trainer foot in front of him, the other is thrown behind, landing on the grassy slope somewhere. He starts snapping away, bent in split leg lunge position. 

Gwendoline stands in the middle, her arms tenderly around her two friends. Michele adjusts her retro glasses and Gemma clasps her hands gently in front of her royal blue and brown patterned shirt dress – showing the mark of practised photo poise. They all smile warmly, the brimful hunter green hedge, acting as a backdrop. A huge grandfather oak, offers its leafed sage bark boughs as an awning. Two girls with high waisted Lycra tights, walk past on their way to Hullabaloo. Hennaed wrists and beaded anklets tangling as they catch sight of the GoT women and grip each other nearly tripping. They disappear, whispering intently. A few wanderers stumble across the discreet shoot and stop to take photos. An all monochrome figure, with pocket chains and weathered snare boots, sashays over and escorts the ladies back to the safari style tent. 

I bungle through a small entrance between hedge and fence and wait hopefully. She is barefoot and has her hands comfortably slouched in the pockets of a black flared circle skirt, that stops just above the knee. It has a deep triangle pleat up the front – adding a vividness and moxie with its angular interest. Underneath she is wearing soft black leggings, to give her outfit a grounded fettle. A loose geometric blouse with panelled barcode and dot sleeves, pica from the shoulder. Hollow gold ovals hang from a necklace, matching round tint lens sunglasses. Her eyes can be seen through the pallid yellow glass, they are confident and formal, but kind. She looks natural, her legs crossed as she stands casually. An Aztec rococo tulip, against Port Eliot’s province of green. 

‘Would you mind talking for a bit?’

‘Yeah sure.’

‘If you could take any of the wardrobes from the Game of Thrones characters, which wardrobe would you personally choose to wear?’ 

‘The mother of the Sand Snakes. The long orange dresses with the big shoulders. It's Dorn, the woman from Dorn.’

‘You talked with Sarah Mower about Sansa. The second wedding dress, it's got a lot of symbolism in it with the fur which is linked with her deceased father and her brothers. Do you think part of the reason that works to humanise the character is because it is something we do in our own lives, we dress symbolically in ways?’

'I think that's really true. And I think that's what interested me so much about doing this. You have the story line but you have to send these subliminal messages, personal messages. Sometimes it can even be something they have in their pocket. It helps the actor to an extent, inhabit the character. But it also tells if you're looking. And I mean people do go back and look again. You can maybe look at what is going on that is not being said, and with Sansa actually, it's a way of her showing her inner strength. She has very few other ways of showing it.’

‘Yes, because at the beginning you can see she has these morals, but she is too afraid to act on them?’

‘Well in the beginning she was someone that was so overly impressed and couldn't wait to get to Kings Landing and be like Cersei, and then it becomes ironic that she becomes like Cersei, and really she realises it – it repulses her. So it's actually a lovely sort of turn around that she wants to embrace, what at one time she actually rejected. It's a sort of homage to her family really.’ 

‘Gwendoline's character Brienne of Tarth is always highlighted as being a character that challenges gender stereotypes. But do you think Daenerys could be said to have an equal impact in that way? Because she has the demure outfits, but they almost clash with what she becomes. She becomes very mentally strong.’ 

‘Although we see her as she develops, and she wears these sexy outfits there is always a strength to them. They are always rooted, they are quite grounded. I would never dream of putting her in high shoes and make her unable to move. Even when she's wearing her most feminine outfits she has a strength.

The great thing is, in Game of Thrones it's not clear cut. Everyone has faults, even Daenerys. I mean we see her fail quite a lot, we see her misinterpret. We see her do the wrong thing, and I like the fact the characters are fathomable. That's the funny thing, you get these things in your head. Daenerys is going to be good and she's going to take the kingdom and then she makes mistakes, and you think I don't know, maybe she's not so good. It's always twisting and changing – and I think it's just, it's just real. It's how people are. It's exploring characters to that extent and trying to understand what they are, as a human not just a character.’

‘You said in the talk earlier.’

‘I can't remember what I said in there!’

‘You mentioned the reason that you prefer to work in film, TV and theatre than to be a fashion designer, is because you don't have to worry about selling the items afterwards. Do you ever keep any bits for yourself, for memory's sake or even to wear?’ 

‘Yes. I mean I might keep little bits but I tend to keep drawings more than anything else. I do actually keep colours. I have a book of all the colours I've used, so I get swatches. Because to me it's like a bible, I mean colour for me is everything. So I always, at the beginning of any job, I always get my dyer to do reams and reams of colour. So I do cling to that, and then I cling to the odd bit of jewellery and things. But then I do lend my things to them as well.’

‘You're own personal things?’ 

‘Yes, my own personal pieces.’ 

‘It’s obvious that the Game of Thrones costumes often reflect personality, but do you ever purposefully make outfits that contradict a character?’

‘Well I think if someone's saying something that they’re actually not meaning, then it's quite nice again to show that it's false. You just read the story and try and just send the contradictory message. If you want people to think that. I mean it's funny it's a very subjective thing, it's how you feel at the time. Sometimes we read something and we think something's happening, and it's not until the next season that you realise it wasn't. So sometimes we send the 'wrong' messages but that's the message they want us to send, (at that time) it's quite multi layered in that way. But it is always about storytelling, and that's what costume is about. It's aiding the story, and telling the stories that can't be told by voice, it's a visual aid. Even if the viewer isn't aware that they are being influenced, they are being influenced – Oh I'm sorry, that's just my daughter over there. I must go and see her, I haven't seen her for weeks. Thank you, thank you, goodbye.’

She smiles and nods with finality, but her attention is fixed devotedly on her daughter. She turns and joyously walks to her side.

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