Costume Designer Michele Clapton talks leaving and returning to Game of Thrones


Game of Thrones wouldn’t be as successful as it is today if every aspect of its production wasn’t top-notch. One person who’s contributed immeasurably to the show’s verisimilitude is Michele Clapton, who’s been designing costumes for Game of Thrones since the beginning. In that regard, Clapton has something in common with composer Ramin Djawadi: their unique visions are woven inseparably into the fabric of the show.

That said, Clapton did take a brief break for most of season 6, but returned to design outfits for the final two episodes and was on hand for all of season 7. Speaking to Fast Company, she explained how the time away did her good. “It rekindled my desire to see [Game of Thrones] through,” Clapton said. “The characters are like real people to me, because I’ve been doing this for so long.” Clapton’s return in season 7 resulted in such iconic costumes as Cersei’s gothic armor look, and Daenerys’ variety of black, warrior queen garments.

During her hiatus, Clapton worked on Netflix’s The Crown, which also involved dressing royal types. There, Clapton’s vision clashed with an executive producer’s idea for a scene, and Clapton pushed back.

"You’re trying to say something, and you have to think so carefully about how something should be. I also want to throw the audience off sometimes. That’s where I have my fun."

Next up, Clapton is going to tackle something that doesn’t resemble Game of Thrones in the slightest: the musical Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, set in the 1970s and starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan. And while the costumes for Mamma Mia! obviously won’t resemble those on Game of Thrones (unless Clapton is planning bell bottoms for season 8), Clapton approaches all of her creations with the same philosophy.

"Costumes [should] be witty, but not funny. Even though [the movie] is a bit of light frivolity, I still wanted to figure out why somebody is wearing something, that backstory."

Clapton took the Mamma Mia! job in part to get a break from period pieces. “A designer does anything. A designer works with the script and the story, whether it’s real or period or musical or whatever.”

You won’t hear any argument from us, Ms. Clapton. Rock on.

Next: HBO CEO Richard Plepler gives update on Game of Thrones prequel series

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