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28 Fascinating Facts About The "Game Of Thrones" Costumes

Cersei's new color is officially silver.

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It's no secret that the Game of Thrones costuming has changed TV forever — so much so that costume designer Michele Clapton has been nominated for an Emmy every year the show's been on air, and won twice.

HBO

Clapton was costume designer on Seasons 1–5 of Game of Thrones, then left for most of Season 6. She returned to design the four outfits Cersei and Daenerys wore in the Season 6 finale, and will be returning for Season 7.

So who better to give us all the behind-the-scenes costuming secrets than Michele Clapton herself?

Jerod Harris / Getty Images

We chatted with Clapton about Maisie Williams burning her costume, Cersei's finale gown, her new Daenerys-inspired jewelry line collaboration with Yunus Ascott and Eliza Higginbottom, and what to expect in Season 7.

1. The show's costume designs aren't really based on the descriptions from the books.

HBO

"It’s funny, when I first got offered the job, of course I read the books. We did move away from the books. I didn’t stick close to the books in the end — it actually became a separate entity."

2. But that's mainly because the show jumps around so much geographically, and they wanted to keep the designs for each area cohesive.

"Because it was designing for a TV show, where you almost instantaneously have to know where you are, we decided to do a real color code in the end. Especially in the first season, it jumps around quite a lot, so just to visually reassure people as to where they were."

3. They did, however, stick to the original house sigils.

HBO

"The sigils were very important to us. We took the sigils, but didn’t stick closely to the descriptions of the costumes [in the books]."

4. And the colors for each house dictated a lot of the individual color palettes for each character — highlighting Margaery and Cersei's rivalry.

HBO

"We take a lot of colors from the sigils, and that seems to create the palette for each group. Margaery was pale blues, and that sat really well within King’s Landing. You’d have all the reds and the rich colors of the Lannisters, and this sea of pale blue took over. I like to play that quite a lot — all the young people started dressing like Margaery, which was even more insulting to Cersei."

5. Costume colors play a huge role in the characters' development. When Cersei's in red — the Lannister color — she's asserting her power.

HBO

"As the story progresses, for instance, Cersei, when we first saw her, she was actually not terribly often in red. And then as she asserts her power, she became very bright red, very Lannister. And then it went to more of a blood-red, and then it went to black, which shows she’s in mourning for her children."

6. And don't expect Dany to keep wearing blue in Season 7. She's moving more into charcoals and whites, indicating her growing sense of self.

HBO

"For Dany as well, she [wore] blue because it was the Dothraki color and it linked her to Drogo, but the last couple of seasons, we’ve moved away from that. She’s actually becoming herself: She’s been in these very pale grays and whites — it’s like purity to her. And then we’ll see her, like at the end of last season, going much more into charcoals now. She’s sort of switching around again and losing the blue, really."

7. When Dany wore white in the Great Pit of Daznak, it was to signify her "mental removal" from the situation.

"[The white] signifies her mental removal from some of the scenes that she has to be in — like in the fight pit. She doesn’t actually want to be there, so we wanted to show visually that she was removed. It was chaotic and bloody and colorful, and there was supposed to be this purity in the middle. She was visually removing herself from the things that she disagreed with."

8. And we might see her wear more red in Season 7.

HBO / Via etsy.com

"Up until very recently, Dany hasn’t had her red since she was with [Viserys], her brother. And maybe that’ll come back."

9. Dany's boots/trousers/dress combination is the "root" of her character.

"It’s the sort of root to her, really," Clapton said. "That she’s always wanted to be able to flee. No matter how sort of formally dressed she is, she always has boots and she always has trousers, so she can always run if she needs to. That’s in the back of my mind when I’m designing for her."

13. The most expensive single costume was Margaery's wedding gown.

HBO

"I guess as a single costume, I would have thought maybe Margaery’s rose dress — each rose was hand-wrapped."

14. All the armor is handmade and hand-beaten, so it's also quite pricey and can take a while to build.

HBO

"The armor, all of it’s handmade and hand-beaten. Some of the big armor pieces, like the Kingsguard, take a long time to develop."

15. Ironically, aging some of the new costumes can take a very, very long time.

HBO

"Ironically, some of the really broken-down costumes take ages because they spend so much time being broken. We make them new and then we age them, and that actually takes such a long time."

16. Maisie Williams did, in fact, want to burn her old Arya costume.

HBO

"Maisie was so excited to get her Braavos look after three years in the same costume. She was like, 'CAN WE MAKE SURE IT NEVER COMES BACK?!' Poor thing, I completely understood. Everything you give her now, she’s like, 'It’s new!' And she’s so happy."

17. Sansa expresses herself through the embroidery on her clothing.

HBO

"She expresses herself through her ability to embroider and stitch. Even [in one of the] very first scenes, Cersei asks her where she got her dress, and she says she made it herself. So we’ve always used that as something that Sansa expresses her feelings through — her embroidery and depictions on her costumes, and through shade and color."

18. And what Sansa's wearing has always been influenced by where her allegiances lie and who's around her.

HBO

"Initially we see her try to emulate Cersei in her costumes, and then when that starts going wrong she sort of stalls and her colors start drifting back towards blue. But they’re not quite blue, they’re mauve. Wherever she goes, she’s sort of pulled in each direction. Finally we see her as Dark Sansa, when she very dramatically changes her appearance and darkens her hair, and has a very dark costume."

19. But she's finally coming into her own, and we're going to see a lot more of that in Season 7.

HBO

"Now we see her back at Winterfell — I think, slowly, she’s becoming slightly more her own woman rather than always being influenced by those around her. She’s finally finding herself, and it’s really interesting to explore that in Season 7, and it’s exciting."

20. Sansa's big Season 4 finale dress was made of feathers because, realistically, that's what she would have had to use.

HBO

"We thought, 'How can we achieve this?' So she’s used raven feathers. We don’t try and suddenly cover her in jewels, because where would she get them? We always try and be realistic about what’s available in any given place. That’s why the black feathers and the mottled fabric."

22. The designs are centered around the environment, what people would realistically be wearing, and what materials would be available.

HBO

"I don’t sometimes look at costumes for research, I just look at what they could have, what they could find there, how would they build a costume, what are the environments? It’s a sense of reality. I just look at techniques and how people exist in similar climates."

23. Clapton knew immediately what Cersei needed to wear in the Season 6 finale.

HBO

"Cersei's outfit — you know what, sometimes you just know exactly how something should be. It was so instant, I knew what she should wear. I did a quick sketch and sent it back to them, and they went, 'YES! YES!'"

24. Cersei's coronation gown is a direct nod to her father, Tywin.

"I wanted the cut leather that would mirror Tywin’s — it was everything she always told her father she could do, and she can now do it. So there had to be that strength. It had to be black because she was in mourning, but I wanted the sort of steeliness behind that, the inner strength."

25. Queen Cersei's new crown includes both silver and gold for a reason.

HBO

"[The crown] is mainly silver and then it has gold within the hollow areas. Gold is always associated with the Lannisters, and I just wanted to keep with that, but I wanted the steely silver."

27. Expect the costumes in Season 7 to have a lot less color than past seasons.

HBO

"It’s getting colder and everything’s in mourning. I think generally everything will lose color, I would think. I’m in the process right now and I’m exploring it."

28. Of all the characters, Clapton thinks people relate to Daenerys the most — and we can expect big things from her costuming in Season 7.

HBO

"A lot of people relate to [Daenerys] in a modern sense, and she relates to both men and women — both are attracted to her. There’s something about her that crosses from this sort of medieval fantasy to current and modern women," Clapton said. "Daenerys is a great character to create for, she is strong and inspiring," Eliza Higginbottom agreed. "The three of us are working on something very cool for Season 7."

Viserys was Daenerys's awful brother who got what he deserved. An earlier version of this post misstated his name.

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