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How Game Of Thrones Uses Costumes To Show Power

Sansa Stark
And Cersei Lannister: Two of Game of Thrones quintessential enemies. Despite being on opposing sides of Westeros,
they have one thing in common: their clothing. In the final season of the show, days before
the Battle of Winterfell, both wear high braced necklines,
draped chains, — sculptural shoulders that evoke armor,
even stud work along a central ridge detail. Their costumes are as connected as their plotlines
for most of the show. And while some of the details can get lost
in the show’s dark motif, If you look closely, you’ll see how their
much their parallel outfits mirror their struggles for power and identity. CERSEI: And your dress. Did you make it? [SANSA nods] CERSEI: Such talent. You must make something for me. Take a look at Cersei’s outfit here, at
King’s Landing in Season 1. Michelle Clapton — the show’s Emmy award-winning
costume designer — dressed Cersei in a lot of lightweight, pastel
dresses in the first two seasons – pinks, pale purple, turquoise. Within the story, these dresses suggested
a feminine queen in understated luxury. But to the audience, they often signaled moments
she seemed powerless. TYRION: Now the entire North has risen up
against us. CERSEI: I tried to stop it. TYRION: Did you? You failed. Cersei’s pastels play against her Lannister
red dresses to contrast her moments of power CERSEI: Seize him. Cut his throat. Wait. I’ve changed my mind, let him go. — with the colors she wore in her moments
of helplessness. Like this turquoise dress she wears while
watching her daughter Myrcella being sent away to Dorne. Around the same time, Sansa was a hostage
of the crown, at the mercy of the Lannisters — wearing dresses that mirrored her captor
Cersei. The oversized, pastel hand-me-downs do the
same thing for her that they did for Cersei — reflect her lack of power. “Your grace, whatever my traitor brother
has done I had no part, you know that. I beg you, please!” They’re both at sea, drowning
in light-colored fabric, and unable to change their circumstances. The Battle of Blackwater changed all of that. Before the battle, Cersei was dressed in the
most Lannister outfit she could find: a red dress with Lannister lions, and an ornamental
breastplate with, you guessed it, Lannister lions. It didn’t end up being very effective for
morale, “The battle is lost your grace.” But it was a show of house power, and Sansa’s
costuming followed suit. In the wake of the battle, Sansa donned her
own version of a house color: purple. It wasn’t Stark blue, but it gave her more
identity than her pastel hostage hand-me-downs — without rocking the boat too much around
the red Lannisters. It’s an early example of a character dressing
in “survival camouflage,” to blend in with those who pose a threat. But Sansa’s costuming also shows how she’s
begun to assert herself — this Stark scarf under her gowns is a subtle nod to home. Cersei’s season 3 clothes doubled down on
Lannisterism, as she assumed the role of Queen Mother: red everywhere, increasingly ornate
fabrics, and lion sigil armor and jewelry. “You’re a clever man, but not half as
clever as you think you are.” And later in the season, Sansa’s costuming
echoed this shift at her wedding to Tyrion Lannister. “You may now cloak the bride and bring her
under your protection.” Her gown was Sansa purple, but with armored
panniers — a distinctly Cersei touch. And the show’s embroiderer, Michelle Carragher,
included some tricky embellishments, Featuring lions overcoming Stark wolves. The embroidered scene mimicked the way Cersei’
Lannister lion signaled authority — — but made sure there was something Stark
on Sansa’s dress, too. Their dueling sigils show how much Sansa had
already learned from Cersei about using clothing to signal alliances. An especially important skill moving forward. In season 4, as the two characters diverge
— with Cersei vying for power behind the throne, and Sansa grappling with her identity
— those signature colors begin to disappear. Cersei goes dark as she mourns her son, Joffrey. How dark? Well, that house sigil is either studded with
skulls or half-rotted, so… Pretty damn dark. Sansa’s transformation happens after Petyr
Baelish rescues her from King’s Landing — and her new circumstances prompt a dress
so important we see her making it. Technically, the dress signaled Sansa going undercover as Petyr’s “daughter.” “I know what you want.” “Do you?” But the details — straight sleeves like
Baelish’s coats, feathers evoking his nickname, “the Mockingbird,” and a gunmetal palette
— were pivotal, reflecting Sansa’s keen awareness of survival camouflage. A skill she learned under Cersei. Even their necklaces are echoes, a little piece of armor at the throat. As Cersei and Sansa begin to reassert their power around season 6, their gowns become increasingly stiff and severe and house loyalty returns to their costuming with a vengeance. During Sansa’s Northern tour in season 6 to rally support against Ramsay Bolton, she wears the Westerosi version of a graphic tee, Stark direwolf front and center. JON: New dress? SANSA: I made it myself, do you like it? JON: I like the wolf bit. The outfit is a clear indicator of how far she’s come into her own power — evidenced as she watches Ramsay being eaten by his own dogs. The same way Cersei’s sigil signified authority after her violent bid for the throne. With no further use for the survival camouflage of feminine queen or splendid Queen Mother, Cersei’s gowns echo Lannister armor, with high-necked silhouettes in forbidding fabrics, and defensive details like epaulets — reminders of the family’s military might. And by the time Sansa’s back in Winterfell on her own terms in season 7, Her wardrobe is high-necked silhouettes in forbidding fabrics. The epaulets and signature necklace echo Stark armor, while feathers represent her time with Baelish, reflecting the Stark family’s prestige and the cunning she uses to govern the North. Since the women parted at the Purple Wedding, they’ve kept pace with each other — strategically — SANSA: Cersei told you her army was coming north to fight for you? TYRION: She did. SANSA: And you believed her? — and visually. And by the show’s final season, Sansa and Cersei have amassed different kinds of authority and have taken different lessons to heart about what wins a war. SANSA: While I ensured our stores would last through winter, I didn’t account for Dothraki, Unsullied and two full-grown dragons. CERSEI: Twenty-thousand men, is it? HARRY: Yes, Your Grace. CERSEI: And elephants? HARRY: Uh, no elephants, Your Grace. CERSEI: That’s disappointing. Despite the diverging plotlines, as both of them enter the final battle, their costumes show their similarities rather than emphasize their differences. In the end, they stand on opposite sides, with their costumes clearly echoing each other. And as the show draws to a close — it’s safe to say those parallels are there for a reason. If this video has you thinking about fashion design, you should check out Skillshare. It’s an online learning community with classes in drawing, video, animation, and more. And this class from streetwear legend Jeff Staple can give you tips on starting your own fashion label. Now you can get two months of Skillshare for free. To sign up, visit the link in the description The first 500 visitors get two months of unlimited access to over 25,000 classes for free. Skillshare doesn’t directly impact our editorial, but their support makes videos like these possible. So you should go check them out.
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