As Game Of Thrones returned last Sunday, fans thrilled at the sight of Khaleesi finally claiming a castle in Westeros; they repulsed at the sight of Ed Sheeran inexplicably hanging out with Arya Stark; and they boggled in amazement at the makeover that Euron Greyjoy received as he sailed into King’s Landing to seek the hand of Cersei Lannister.
The woman who makes the decisions on how to outfit the heroes, rogues, villains and undead monsters of Game Of Thrones is Michele Clapton, who’s worked on each of the show’s seven seasons and who’s also one on of Fast Company‘s Most Creative People. After the premiere on Sunday, Clapton found a few minutes away from the set to answer five questions about the creative process of working on the show and Euron’s Yeezy-like new look.
Fast Company: How do you keep the costumes feeling fresh after six previous seasons of the show?
Michele Clapton: It’s relatively easy, as the costumes are related to each character’s journey. So they’re a reaction to their situation, state of mind, or direction–whatever really is happening to them, or whatever they are trying to make happen.
Fast Company: There’s been a lot of talk online this week about Euron Greyjoy’s look in King’s Landing, where he’s got kind of a John Varvatos rock star thing going on. How do you make those kinds of decisions?
Michele Clapton: I actually didn’t know the reaction until I got this question. I hadn’t looked online! But I get an idea, I talk with the actor and the writers, and it develops from there. People will make what they will of it, but we wanted swagger. I loved the slashed star shapes that we made. It’s supposed to represent the type of guy that obviously has issues. The slashes, although seemingly mindless, are repetitive and exacting. He is also everything that Jaime Lannister isn’t. It’s a mind game–he’s like this to get under Jamie’s skin… I think it works.
Fast Company: Are you empowered to make more creative decisions from time to time because the show has had such a distinct aesthetic for so long?
Michele Clapton: Maybe. I have always tried to be bold, but I also make the costumes relate to the character and their storyline and direction. Sometimes it takes a while for people to see where we are going. It takes time for a character to reach the look that fans crave. Dany in her house colors, for example–it’s a journey.
Fast Company: Are there things you try that don’t work?
Michele Goldberg: It’s hard to think of an instance because the costumes are developed and discussed long before they make it to the set, but there are one or two that get through. I hated the Sand Snakes nipples on their armor. I really thought that we had eliminated the problem, but when lit they really showed. I was mortified.
Fast Company: Are there characters who are more fun to design for?
Michele Goldberg: Ah! Too hard to say. I love Cersei. She wears her heart on her sleeve. But really, all the characters are interesting to design for. They are so well written, we identify with them or recognize them. I just try to design costumes that help tell their story. That’s my job.