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On 'Game of Thrones,' the leading ladies' outfits rule!

As Cersei, Lena Headey now wears heavy robes, rich in embroidery, that provide a kind of armor against court intrigue.HELEN SLOAN/HBO

As Cersei, Lena Headey now wears heavy robes, rich in embroidery, that provide a kind of armor against court intrigue.

Many “Game of Thrones” plot threads are ­woven into the clothes.

Costume designer Michele Clapton and ­embroiderer Michele Carragher tuck many clues about each character’s journey into the folds and patterns of the show’s elaborate wardrobe.

This is best embodied by the HBO hit’s heroines, whose gilded gowns hint at their growth as they scheme to rule on the Iron Throne — or their desire to exact revenge on their enemies.

“Their costumes are based on what they want to portray, what messages they want to send out to those around them, and what they are physically doing,” says Carragher, who draws inspiration from the descriptions in George R.R. Martin’s books.

This is best reflected in Daenerys Targaryen, a timid exile under the thumb of her brother in season one, who by season five heads an army of 8,000 warriors — and three fire-breathing dragons — while ruling Meereen.

“Her story lines are the most extreme,” says Clapton, who first draped the young girl sold to the Dothraki horse lords five years ago in vulnerable Grecian gowns.

Sophie Turner as Sansa in her season three wedding dress. The embroidery shows how the Lannister lions have overwhelmed the Stark wolves.Helen Sloan/HBO

Sophie Turner as Sansa in her season three wedding dress. The embroidery shows how the Lannister lions have overwhelmed the Stark wolves.

Emilia Clarke plays Daenerys Targaryen, who now wears the regal garb of the Khaleesi.HBO

Emilia Clarke plays Daenerys Targaryen, who now wears the regal garb of the Khaleesi.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, the queen of dragons.Macall B. Polay/HBO

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, the queen of dragons.

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But once Dany embraced her role as Khaleesi, or queen, she adopted the tough leather garb of her nomadic tribe. And now as a ruler and Mother of Dragons, her more luxurious gowns are embellished with dragon scales.

“She had no positive influences through her childhood, so she tends to adopt looks from the people that are around her,” explains Clapton. “But it’s her signature to always wear trousers beneath dresses, no matter how feminine they are. It keeps her strong.”

And while many characters dress in the colors of their house, or family, Dany eschews her clan’s red and black for the Dothraki’s more regal blue.

“She should adopt the Dothraki sacred color, blue, out of a respect and love for her (late) husband, her first real love,” says Clapton. But Dany has graduated to silver and white in season five, because “I wanted to show a sense of this divine right that Dany seems to feel she has, an overwhelming belief that she is beyond question.”

The orphaned Sansa Stark has also undergone a striking makeover: From a romantic, red-headed pawn, manipulated by the Lannister family ruling Westeros, to a raven-haired vixen learning to play the game of thrones — and wrap the cunning Lord Petyr Baelish around her own little finger.

Natalie Dormer (with Jack Gleeson) wears outfits that emphasize her youth and beauty.Helen Sloan/HBO

Natalie Dormer (with Jack Gleeson) wears outfits that emphasize her youth and beauty.

Emilia Clarke with a fiery comrade in season fourHBO

Emilia Clarke with a fiery comrade in season four

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, who has been disguised as a boy and is now training as an assassin.HELEN SLOAN/HBO

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, who has been disguised as a boy and is now training as an assassin.

Lena Headey as Queen Mother Cersei Lannister (with Ian Beattie)Macall B. Polay/HBO

Lena Headey as Queen Mother Cersei Lannister (with Ian Beattie)

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“When Sansa first meets Cersei, the queen represents everything that Sansa has ever dreamed of, and she wants to dress and be like her,” says Clapton, which explains why the Stark girl’s fragile, pale silk gowns don’t quite fit in the early seasons.

But once Cersei’s family kills Sansa’s parents, the girl is forced to dress like the Lannisters in the noble court to show her allegiance. But Sansa wears darker colors and heavier fabrics to reflect her unhappiness.

Her dress for marrying Tyrion Lannister was one of her most important looks. The tight bodice and bare arms showed her vulnerability, but the embroidered band illustrated her entire story: the trout of her mother’s family crest entwining with her father’s direwolves, before the Lannister lions overtake both sigils.

“And at the back of the neck is stamped a Lannister lion head, representing how the Lannisters believe they now have total ownership over this girl,” says embroiderer Carragher. “I like to incorporate hidden meanings and metaphor within my designs.”

But now that Sansa is safe from the lions’ jaws — and has grown more comfortable in her womanhood — the young royal is transmitting that she’s a force to be reckoned with in fitted black clothes with more plunging necklines and statement jewelry.

Emilia Clarke can rock rough leather as well as elegant gowns on "Game of Thrones."©HBO/Courtesy Everett Collectio

Emilia Clarke can rock rough leather as well as elegant gowns on “Game of Thrones.”

The death of her husband, the king, moved Lena Headey's Cersei into the forefront on "Thrones."HBO

The death of her husband, the king, moved Lena Headey’s Cersei into the forefront on “Thrones.”

Natalie Dormer's Queen Margaery is poised for a showdown with Queen Mother Cersei.HELEN SLOAN/HBO

Natalie Dormer’s Queen Margaery is poised for a showdown with Queen Mother Cersei.

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Her younger sister, Arya, on the other hand, has been stuck disguised as a boy for the past few seasons to avoid being captured by the Lannisters.

Clapton says she stuck to the same, increasingly ragged travel-stained clothes because Arya’s character was emotionally stunted while on the run.

“It became a metaphor for all the horror of her circumstance,” says Clapton. “She becomes instinctive and feral, completely lost, in constant danger of being discovered, totally dependent on others, who for the most part were pretty unsavory and as likely to hand her over as they were to kill or rape her.”

But now that Arya’s left her troubled past behind to train as a face-changing assassin on the islands of Braavos, her new growth is embodied by an updated, more feminine wardrobe.

“It was very exciting to be able to finally move her look forward, but even here in Braavos she is playing at different roles,” says Clapton. So as exciting as it is to see Arya in a dress again as she wears a layered skirt, wooden clogs and a rusted bolero while moving about Braavos as an oyster seller, the audience should remember this is another disguise.

Sophie Turner, as Sansa Stark, has moved on to adulthood with a wardrobe of fitted, dark dresses with lots of cleavage.Helen Sloan/HBO

Sophie Turner, as Sansa Stark, has moved on to adulthood with a wardrobe of fitted, dark dresses with lots of cleavage.

Last but not least, the Queen Mother and the new Queen Consort of Kings Landing are in the midst of a fierce wardrobe war.

When audiences first met Queen Cersei, she was arm candy for reigning King Robert Baratheon. So her kimono-style silk dresses were decked with flowers and birds, to show she was caught in a gilded cage.

Once she helped orchestrate the death of the king and began ruling the kingdom through her sons, however, Cersei began wearing the Lannister colors of red and gold, with lions openly embroidered on her gowns in lieu of her late husband’s signature stags.
Her foil is Margaery Tyrell, a beautiful young flower who’s not afraid to wear fashion-forward frocks that show a lot of cleavage.

But this rose has thorns — as her wedding dress to the doomed King Joffrey revealed.

“Margaery’s wedding dress has a simple seductive shape, but the tangled thorny stems are there as a weblike trap to capture/ensnare their prey, and the roses cascade and spill down covering the ground, slowly spreading their influence in their wake,” says Carragher.

This girl has her eyes on the crown. After Joffrey was poisoned on his wedding day, Margaery wasted no time seducing and marrying his younger brother, Tommen. Now that she’s become the Queen Consort, she and Queen Mother Cersei are in a power struggle that’s clearly reflected in their clothes.

“Cersei is forced to wear ever more elaborately embroidered, armored dresses in an attempt to show her strength and her rightful place, where Margaery merely has to reveal more youthful flesh in a series of not-so-accidentally revealing dresses,” says Clapton.
Viewers can expect Cersei to head into a literal dark place. “Defeated by death and her loss of power, she enters a state of perpetual mourning,” Clapton warns.

Tags:
Game of Thrones ,
Daenerys ,
Sansa Stark ,
Cersei ,
Arya Stark

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