The stunning effects that make Game Of Thrones so spectacular are not just limited to the realm of CGI. The final two episodes of Season 6 were a sensory feast of design, scoring and practical effects. While the finale may not have had 80 live horses galloping toward Kit Harington, it outdid itself in other ways. Namely: Cersei's killer gowns.
Before the action even got going, Cersei stopped the show in a dress that marked a distinctive change in her character and foreshadowed the violence she had chosen:
From the first time we saw her back in the Season 1 pilot, Cersei's gowns have always reflected her vanity and entitlement. She's generally wearing rich fabrics and lush, seductive reds or other warm colors. And almost always decked with gold. Just before the season finale aired, costume designer Michele Clapton told New York Magazine:
“We use jewelry for Cersei a lot. When she’s feeling insecure, like with Margaery, for instance, she wears these big, clunky gold pieces to show that she’s a Lannister and important and has status.“
Clapton worked on Game Of Thrones for five seasons, and nabbed an Emmy for each of the first four. Although she was working on a project in Africa while Season 6 was underway, creators Benioff and Weiss knew they needed her back to craft something exquisite for "The Winds of Winter." She told Vanity Fair:
“When they requested me, I couldn’t say no. There was to be a very short turnaround on this [dress]—four to five weeks—and I had to try to pull my team together to make it happen. Luckily, when I received the script I was immediately sure how this dress should look and Cersei’s direction. As soon I shared my sketches with [executive producers] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], they loved it, as did Lena. We were all of the same mindset.”
Seriously, how could you not love this look?
The gown she wears in the coronation seen echoes the one from the first scene, except it's even harsher and more militaristic. The beadwork on the shoulders is swapped for solid metal plates bearing the Lannister lion sigil, and the fabric is made of a leather with small eyelets that reveal glimmers of the silver beneath.
But that's not the only thing familiar about Cersei's powerful attire. Clapton described her vision to Vanity Fair:
“I knew it had to be leather and I knew it had to be linked to [Cersei’s father] Tywin. I wanted a distinct, strong silhouette, so I squared her shoulders...
The silver shoulders are decorated in a similar manner to Jaime’s gold hand — the one person that she still has something with. There is no ‘decoration’ to Cersei.”
Everything about Clapton's design has a meaning for the character:
“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. The multi-layered effect created by mounting the leather onto silver brocade gives a more complex feeling, implying that nothing achieved is ever simple.”
Clapton's favorite part of the whole look? The silver crown that topped it all off:
“It is again the Lannister lion sigil in silver, but we wanted it to be abstracted further. It took more time to develop—its mane now represents the iron throne. Cersei has made it her own. She is reborn.”