This Sunday HBO's fantasy hit show "Game of Thrones" returns for its fourth season, which has made a name for itself with its suspense and violence, but also for its incredible scenery and extraordinary costumes. What you may not know is the depth of imagery and the secret narratives contained in the costumes themselves — things that may not even appear on your TV screen.
For our occasional series on Hollywood Jobs, U.K.-based embroiderer Michele Carragher spoke with Take Two about her work on the "Game of Thrones" wardrobe and revealed some of the details. You can view them in the image slideshow above.
On how she became the "Game of Thrones" embroiderer:
"I got involved with the show when I was asked by the costume designer, Michelle Clapton, who I've worked with before several times. Obviously, I was drawn to the show because of the creativeness of the project. Michelle, as a designer, she has great talent and spirit, and she's a real supporter of artists and craftspeople, and she really pursues the costumes being made with traditional processes when possible. Having fabrics woven and hand-printed, and she has a lot of hand finishing done on the seams and hems. Luckily for me she likes some hand embroidery."
On how she got into embroidery:
"Started when I was a child, really. I went to college and studied fashion design. While I was there, I actually became drawn to the theater design course and what the students were doing. ... When I left college, I went into textile conservation and developed my embroidery skills there, practicing on the many textiles that came through the door. So I got much quicker at different techniques. Then, through some friends who used to make amateur short films, I got involved in the world of filmmaking, and so went from there, really."
On creating the dragon-scale pattern for Daenerys:
"I started to be involved in embellishing her costumes in season three. The decoration on her costume develops from a subtle texture, and as she increases in power and strength, this texture becomes more defined to map out her journey in the story. ... As Dany grows in strength with her dragons, the texture becomes more embellished and grows down the costume."
On creating the details on Sansa's wedding gown:
"Wedding days should be a joyous event for the bride, but, unfortunately, Sansa's being forced into a marriage that she doesn't want, into the Lannister family. For this dress, Michelle wanted it to be a confined, restricted bodice shape with bare, vulnerable arms. She wanted an embroidered band that would wrap around the bodice and tell Sansa's life story.
"Obviously we imagined that the wedding dress has been commissioned by Cersei and the Lannisters for Sansa, and so the embroidery would have come from Cersei's mind. We guessed that it wouldn't be romantic or lovely and girly and pretty with dainty flowers, but a real strong message of dominance, saying that we own you now, Sansa.
"For the wedding band, I started at the back of the waist with some Stark direwolves and Tully fish entwined that represent Sansa's parentage. Then, as we move to the side, the Lannister lion is tangling with the direwolf and emerging on top, representing Sansa being seduced and then controlled by members of the house of Lannister. As it moves up the center, there's a central ascending lion that's got a Baratheon-like crown, a nod to Joffrey's parentage. At the back neck, the Lannister lion is stamped onto it, representing how the Lannisters now have total ownership over this girl who was once a Stark."
Many people won't notice these details on screen. Is that a bit of a bummer for you?
"Not really, because it's just fantastic to be able to have the opportunity to experiment and do that sort of work, so you enjoy it from that point of view. Really, you want the costume to work when it's not on the screen as well, to help the actor get into their character. I mainly see the costume on a dress stand, and I do worry about how it may look in the context of filming, so it's fantastic to see how the actors transform and breathe life into the costume and become the characters that they do.
"It's really satisfying for me to finally see the work on the screen, luckily I have a large screen television at home to watch it on. "
Check out more of Michele Carragher's work at her website.