Daenerys’ confidence shows in her coat.
“With Daenerys, there’s a creeping of red within the scaling embroidery of her coat. It’s like she’s finally beginning to grasp power and she feels closer to the idea of taking the throne, of coming home. Although it’s always been her ambition, whether she actually believed she could isn’t clear, even though she said she could. So I decided that finally now she can start inhabiting and owning her family’s place. I like the emblematic nature of that.”
You can tell a lot about Cersei through her clothes.
“Cersei has always spoken a lot through her costumes, often because she didn’t have a voice. On Game of Thrones, you have to say so much in so little time. I use costumes on Cersei to get across her mood and how she’s feeling visually. Whether she’s feeling powerful or whether she’s feeling bereft, or whatever. I think quite a lot will come through with that this season.”
Game of Thrones costumes are often reused or repurposed.
“Sometimes in the first draft of the script there’s a really huge scene, and then by the end [of production] it’s a two-minute scene—and you’ve designed a whole town’s worth of costumes. That’s happened, but you can’t not do it. So then next year, maybe those costumes are dyed and cut and changed and broken down and they become something else. We try and be thrifty. We have a lot of extras who might be on the streets within King’s Landing, so it’s quite nice to be able to use costumes again and change them. But we have hundreds and thousands of costumes. We have two huge warehouses full at the moment.”
Some of The Crown’s costumes are based on reality, but others interpret the characters’ emotions and experiences.
“The Crown is a lot about the behind story, the personal relationships. That’s not really documented. Everything you see of the royal family is usually because they want you to see it. Even when they’re relaxed at home, it’s a set piece. So we decided that scenes like the wedding and the coronation had to be utterly correct. But, for instance, the bridesmaids dresses at the wedding didn’t film the way I would have liked them to. So I actually put on a layer of peach tulle to warm them up.
But where we could really have fun were the moments we completely made up. We loved the idea that Margaret wore slacks. We loved the idea that the queen just puts a loose shirt on sometimes. The moment when her father dies and they’re trying to find her, she’s in Philip’s shirt. She’s removed from everything that’s about to hit her. I like visually telling that story.
I was really intrigued with how Elizabeth felt in this institution of the palace. She is a young woman. Can you imagine being put in that position? I didn’t see her wearing her floor-length pretty dresses, because that would make her seem too vulnerable. In the end I went for blocked strong colors, so in a way it was like armor. I felt she would hide behind that initially. And then you see she slowly becomes comfortable in the situation and some of the prettiness comes back. I slowly let that come back into her main wardrobe in the palace, because she felt she could be herself. I thought it was very interesting to show that.”
On The Crown, even the jewelry has secret meaning.
“On Game of Thrones I make those secret elements up to tell the story, but on The Crown we often used real jewelry that was given [to the queen] by certain people to explain the mood. For example, there’s a beautiful little basket brooch the queen was given at the birth of Prince Charles. It’s a lovely prop to use when you feel like she is craving her family or there’s something vulnerable about her. It’s almost like the kind of things I make up on Game of Thrones actually do exist to be used on The Crown.
Some people miss it, but if you look at Elizabeth and think about whether she’s missing her family or affected by something and see the jewelry, it can tell a story. It’s a code. And it helps the actor as much as anything. It gives them a sense of where they are.”