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UCLA

Fashion in the Seven Kingdoms

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By Anne Pautler

Published Jul 1, 2016 8:00 AM


Award-winning Game of Thrones costume designer Michele Clapton is the 2016 Swarovski Designer in Residence at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.


Emilia Clarke photo courtesy of Helen Sloan/HBO, dress sketch courtesy of Michele Clapton.

Ever found yourself wanting to have a heart-to-heart with the Khaleesi about her predilection for cut-out dresses and floor-length capes? If you were a graduate student in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT), you just might get a chance to change Daenerys Targaryen’s wardrobe. Or revamp the costumes worn by other Game of Thrones characters.

But the students aren’t indulging in cosplay. Costume design is a serious business, acknowledged as an important element in storytelling on screen and stage. UCLA is providing a master of the craft to teach aspiring students: Michele Clapton, the two-time Emmy Award-winning costume designer for seasons 1 to 5 of Game of Thrones. Clapton has been named the 2016 Swarovski Designer in Residence at TFT.

For Game of Thrones, Clapton designed costumes that create a coherent world with distinct cultures, seeking to make a fantasy world seem real. Viewers can’t mistake Khal Drogo’s nomadic horsemen for the fur-wrapped warriors of the Stark family or the Lannister courtiers, dripping with jewels and embroidery.

During her residency, Clapton will mentor students and critique their designs. M.F.A. student Chanele Casaubon told the Daily Bruin that she and her fellow students have immersed themselves in books on medieval designs and histories of different cultures, determined to invent new Game of Thrones looks for Clapton to review. Each student has been redesigning the costumes of 15 characters from the show’s pilot. Their goal is to create distinct looks for each. Their drawings need to be ready to hand over to an actual seamstress. No word yet on whether they’ll have Daenerys shed her halters, cutouts and capes.

Clapton’s other projects have included Werner Herzog’s upcoming Queen of the Desert, starring Nicole Kidman and James Franco ’08, as well as the BBC productions of The Diary of Anne Frank, Sense and Sensibility and Casanova, among others. Previously, she created her own fashion line and worked as a stylist for musicians.

In addition to Clapton, students work with Silvia Baker, in her second year as the inaugural M·A·C Cosmetics Artist in Residence in Make-up and Hair Design. Baker’s credits include Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Silkwood. She teaches a course that explores the history of hair and make-up in cinema and the collaboration among costume designers, actors and directors to create characters.

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