China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FASH­ION - By CAR­O­LINE LEAPER

allen kings, de­feated by a fear­less and heroic sis­ter­hood. Bright and brave war­rior queens they were, are, and for­ever will be.” You’d be for­given for think­ing you’d tuned in to a me­dieval fan­tasy, but not so — these were the notes handed out to jour­nal­ists at de­signer Elie Saab’s haute cou­ture show in Paris last month. He couldn’t have made the plot­line any clearer: Game of Thrones, the tele­vi­sion epic that re­turns to the box last month, has found a place on his mood board.

Since the show first aired in 2011, par­al­lels have been drawn be­tween Game of Thrones and, say, the re­vival of folksy ap­pliqués at Dolce and Gab­bana, or the wave of Ro­man gowns at Valentino and Al­berta Fer­retti. Most would say that the in­flu­ence was sub­con­scious, but a few brands, like Hel­mut Lang, have de­clared more lit­eral in­ter­pre­ta­tions, with Man­ish Arora even play­ing the theme song as his cat­walk back­ing mu­sic in 2015.

Fans ob­sess over the vis­ually-rich, fic­tional world ren­dered by Bri­tish cos­tume de­signer Michele Clap­ton and the army of em­broi­der­ers, jew­ellers, seam­stresses and ar­mour­ers that she em­ploys to clothe the Seven King­doms. Their cos­tumes pro­vide a sub­plot, high­light­ing a char­ac­ter’s power or weak­ness, as well as help­ing to dis­tin­guish tribes, sta­tuses and cli­mates.

Per­haps most im­por­tantly, though, they de­fine char­ac­ters that are wor­thy of be­ing placed on pedestals as fash­ion plates, both by view­ers in search of es­capism and by de­sign­ers. “Cos­tume is al­ways a fun­da­men­tal de­vice to present a char­ac­ter’s per­son­al­ity to an au­di­ence,” says Michele Car­ragher, the show’s prin­ci­pal cos­tume em­broi­derer, re­spon­si­ble for craft­ing the mi­crode­tails that we sali­vate over in HD. Work­ing with Clap­ton, she “will dis­cuss a char­ac­ter’s back­story, traits, and per­sonal jour­ney within the script and this will all go to­wards in­flu­enc­ing my de­sign”.

For those in need of a re­cap of the key fash­ion play­ers (well, the ones not yet slaugh­tered) we have Daen­erys Tar­garyen (played by Emilia Clarke), the Mother of Dragons draped in plissé god­dess gowns and state­ment torque neck­laces. Then there is Win­ter­fell princess Sansa Stark (So­phie Turner), who has grown into a strong, scorned woman with a wardrobe of power capes to match. And for Cer­sei Lan­nis­ter (Lena Headey), queen re­gent of the Seven King­doms, only the rich­est em­broi­deries and gilded corsets will do.

Unique pieces

But as much as the cat­walks will ref­er­ence the se­ries, Car­ragher says that haute cou­ture fash­ion em­broi­deries also in­form her re­search process, along with ar­chi­tec­tural dec­o­ra­tion and vin­tage tex­tiles. Her ex­quis­ite ef­forts could cer­tainly be com­pared with the lev­els of work­man­ship found in Parisian ate­liers.

“Daen­erys’s ‘drag­on­scales’ can take be­tween three and 10 days each, and Sansa’s wed­ding dress took 10 days,” re­veals Car­ragher. “I al­ways like to in­cor­po­rate hid­den mean­ings and metaphor within my de­signs.” Look out for trapped birds or bleed­ing li­ons the next time you press pause.

El­iza Hig­gin­bot­tom, the show’s jew­ellery de­signer, was first asked by Clap­ton to cre­ate a sculp­tural neck­lace for dragon queen Daen­erys in sea­son five, and has since made dozens of unique pieces for the show. “There has been a ma­jor re­sponse to the pieces we make for the show, so we set up a sis­ter com- pany sell­ing repli­cas,” Hig­gin­bot­tom tells us — she and her busi­ness part­ner Yunus As­cott launched a sub-brand, MEY, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Clap­ton last year, so that fans can lit­er­ally shop from the screen. The key to suc­cess is that these aren’t gim­micky sou­venirs, but fine jew­ellery pieces. “The Daen­erys Dro­gon Neck Sculp­ture is our best seller, de­spite the price point,” she adds — at £1,900, it’s a se­ri­ous in­vest­ment. The team worked closely with Emilia Clarke to make sure the de­sign struck the right chord.


Ac­cord­ing to fash­ion search en­gine Lyst, Game of Thrones is now so in­flu­en­tial that searches for Gre­cian dresses, bodices and capes all in­crease when a new sea­son airs. Of course, this is not the first time that we’ve be­come in­fat­u­ated with a TV show wardrobe; and with huge bud­gets be­ing redi­rected from the big

As well as be­ing in­formed by what he’s seen on screens, Al­tuzarra has had the chance to re­verse roles, de­sign­ing pieces for char­ac­ter Claire Un­der­wood on House Of Cards. “Some­times it’s the char­ac­ters of films that in­spire me, such as Sailor and Lula in Wild at Heart [for his spring 2017 col­lec­tion], some­times it is the over­all mood,” he adds. “There’s a trans­for­ma­tive power to the medium that I’m drawn to — fash­ion al­lows for the wearer to en­gage with dif­fer­ent parts of their per­son­al­ity.”

Vogue con­tribut­ing fash­ion ed­i­tor Bay Gar­nett agrees that “fash­ion is all about char­ac­ters”. Gar­nett cites Gucci, Kenzo and Givenchy as la­bels that love to cre­ate hero­ine-like fig­ures on their cat­walks and thinks that Dy­nasty, Cheers and Twin Peaks are among the now-retro shows that are most fre­quently ref­er­enced.

“The prom queen, the kooky weirdos, the Fifties pin-up — Twin Peaks, for ex­am­ple, had some­thing for ev­ery­one and quite of­ten the per­son­al­i­ties were so strong that they were like car­i­ca­tures,” she says. “The orig­i­nal­ity is why de­sign­ers still ref­er­ence these shows.”

If you are still un­sure whether Game of Thrones could stand up among the greats, though, con­sider this; Lyst con­firms that they now see a spike in searches for the en­tire Daen­erys look ev­ery Hal­lowe’en. Surely that’s the fi­nal test for any TV show hop­ing to achieve cult fash­ion sta­tus; will it be im­mor­talised as fancy dress?


Clock­wise from top: Lena Heady as Cer­sei Lan­nis­ter; So­phie Turner por­trays Sansa Stark; Daen­erys Tar­garyen is played by Emilia Clarke; David Bradley as Walder Frey (cen­ter).

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