• Melissa Imari Alvarez

Many Shades of Black: Costumes in the Game of Thrones Season 6 Finale

Disclaimer: this post contains spoilers for the Game of Thrones Season 6 finale. If you do not wish to be spoiled, please leave now!

The Game of Thrones season 6 finale was satisfying on so many levels, with one of those highest levels being devoted to its costumes. This was probably one of the most costume-centric episodes of the series, with an opening that put emphasis on the clothes and dressing processes of many of the main characters. There was also a great emphasis on the color black. We know that we can always expect to see the men of the Night's Watch in black and, considering the death toll after things got fired up at the Sept of the Seven, mourning attire was expected. But for other characters, the reasons for rocking the darkest color of the spectrum were a little vague. Here, we'll analyze whether the styling was for work, mourning, or to make a fashion statement.

Lena Heady as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones. Costume Design by Michele Clapton.

Cersei- Trial and Coronation


The most chilling detail behind Cersei's dress for the trial (or lack thereof) was not just that it was black, but that she was wearing it before the Sept was even gone. She was preparing to put on a face of mourning for all the lives lost, lives she didn't give two shits for. Of course, her evil plan took an even darker turn when her last living son, Tommen, made the ultimate king's landing.

Lena Heady as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones. Costume Design by Michele Clapton.

Whether or not he was already dead to her (I mean, he did basically set her up for failure with that whole "no trial by combat" thing), Tommen's death must have made Cersei's triumphant rise to the Iron Throne fairly bittersweet. Sure, she finally obtained the power she's always been yearning for, but at what cost? She's lost all of her children, her father, and herself along the way. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Michele Clapton, the costume designer for seasons 1-5 who returned for the season 6 finale, says,

“Black was the obvious choice. Yes, it is for mourning her children, her father . . . but it’s more than that. To me, it represents a deadness inside her—the overwhelming desire for power at any cost.”

John Bradley-West as Samwell Tarly on Game of Thrones. Costume Design by April Ferry.

Samwell Tarly- Arriving at the Citadel


Like I mentioned before, we can always count on the men of the Night's Watch for all-black ensembles. While there are many speculations as to why the Night's Watch takes the black, it is clear that this is a deeply rooted tradition at the Wall. It's that same respect for tradition, and desire to defend the realm, that brought Sam to the Citadel. With an opening for a Maester at the Wall, Sam being in black means that he is both dressed for work and dressed for the job he wants. He even trimmed up his beard and sported a tasteful comb-over for bonus Dressed to Impress points!

Kit Harington as Jon Snow on Game of Thrones. Costume Design by April Ferry.

Jon Snow- King in the North

Fashion Statement

As a former member of the Night's Watch, Jon "Stargeryen" Snow no doubt has an abundance of black in his wardrobe. And sure, he's been a little busy trying to defend the North and take back Winterfell from those darned Boltons or whatever, but he also has a very trendy sister-cousin who has already designed some fancy new threads for him.

Kit Harington as Jon Snow and Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones. Costume Design by April Ferry.

Season 6 costume designer, April Ferry, did set forth a change in silhouette for Jon earlier in the season when he retired the huge black fur cloak and long sleeve leather overshirt of the the Night's Watch for a more Stark leather jerkin and, eventually, the fur cloak that Sansa gifted him. The Starks are typically known to wear blues, browns, and greys but since Jon has never felt like a true Stark then it makes sense that he wouldn't return completely to the style of clothes he wore before leaving for the Wall. Or maybe he is actively choosing to stay mostly monochromatic just because he appreciates the simplistic and classic appeal of dressing in all black. He's also seen some dark times (his own death, for example), so it's justified.

Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones. Costume Design by April Ferry.

Lady Olenna Tyrell- Visit to Dorne


Lady Olenna lost her son, grandson, and granddaughter in one fell swoop and so dons her mourning attire during her visit to Dorne. She does not, however, let this tragedy completely bring her down. She still wears her traditional attire, a sign to both her nobility and matriarchy. And though predominantly black, she still has hints of green, a common Tyrell color, within the detail of the brocade and her crespine headdress. Lady Olenna has always proven to be one tough broad and now is no different. Even in her hour of sadness, she is determined to seek revenge and destroy her enemies.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones. Costume Design by Michele Clapton.

Daenarys Targaryen- Leaving Mereen

Mourning, Fashion Statement

If there is one thing we learned about Daenerys Targaryen this season it is that she is, above all else, a conquerer. Finally, her puzzle pieces are coming together- she's got her army, ships, and allies- and she is finally ready to head for Westeros. But just because she's a conqueror, that doesn't mean she's completely heartless. Daenarys has a serious soft spot for her people and she lost a lot of them during the masters' attacks on Mereen. This gorgeous black draped maxi dress could be for mourning those dearly departed. Or maybe she's mourning the loss of her boy toy, aka mistress, Daario. While majestically tall and handsomely bearded, he has proven to be mostly useless to Dany's ultimate plot (side note: this, in no way, reflects my thoughts on Michiel Huisman-I think he's wonderful and I will miss seeing his lovely face). This dress is also a severe shift in style from the Dothraki garb she returned to Mereen in, much more regal and befitting of a queen. While Dany is capable of owning any and every look she wears, she has mostly dressed in styles influenced by where she is or who she's with. As she prepares for what could possibly be the biggest chapter of her journey, it would make sense for her to want to start with a clean slate and tap into her roots.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones. Costume Design by Michele Clapton.

Dany furthers this statement when we see her and her fleet sailing towards Westeros. The silhouette of her dress is sleek and clean, minimal lines or details with the exception of the dragons on her shoulders, of course. We get the full understanding of why black is so meaningful to Dany as the Targaryen sails billowing behind her remind us that it is one of her house's colors.

Bella Ramsey as Lyanna Mormont on Game of Thrones. Costume Design by April Ferry.

Lyanna Mormont- Rallying the North

Job, Mourning, Fashion Statement

There are so many words one could use to describe Lady Lyanna Mormont of Bear Island but if I had to choose one, it would be "boss". For as long as we've known Lady Lyanna she has been dressed in black. Having the title and responsibility she does at her age, it helps give her a sense of seriousness upon first glance. Of course, once she opens her mouth we realize that she could probably still shut a room of men down even if she were wearing black bear footy pajamas. Black could also be significant for her since she is the last living heir of her house. Maybe it's an homage to the bear on the Mormont house sigil. Maybe she wears black because she's a badass and no other color would accurately portray her competence, intelligence, and overall no-nonsense attitude. Whatever her personal reason for wearing it is, black shows strength and authority, two traits Lyanna possesses in full which I believe will continue to prove her a worthy opponent in the fights to come.

Bella Ramsey as Lyanna Mormont on Game of Thrones. Costume Design by April Ferry. (Sunglasses not included.)

#GameofThrones #MicheleClapton #AprilFerry #CostumeDesign #Costumes

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