A lot of detail gets lost on the screen, but every piece of embroidery created by Michele Carragher for Game of Thrones tells an intricate story.
There's no denying that HBO's Game of Thrones is a sumptuous production — set in an alternate medieval-style world, with imposing factions vying for power. There are grand speeches, thrilling swordfights, intrigue, romance, death, destruction, monsters, corruption and spooky magic — and, in amongst all the fire and blood, the finer details can sometimes pass by.
Which is a shame. London-based Michele Carragher, who lends her embroidery services to film and television projects, has hand-stitched some breathtaking, stunning works of art into the costumes of the characters who inhabit Westeros and Essos. Not only is each piece uniquely linked to the character who wears it, it also tells a story — if you know how to look.
The fourth season of Game of Thrones returns to Foxtel today — keep your eyes open for Carragher's work.
Warning: if you have not seen the third season of Game of Thrones, there may be spoilers ahead. Proceed with caution.
There were three versions of Daenerys' dress created for the third season. As Daenerys and her relationship with her dragons evolved, so too did her costume, externalising the change within. This is the second version of the dress.
By the third and final version, the dress looked distinctly dragonish. The fabric used was a shiny paper silk as opposed to the duller linen used in the previous versions, and the scaling had grown all the way down the front of the dress, becoming quite heavy and pronounced.
"For Sansa's wedding dress the [costume] designer Michele Clapton wanted to have an embroidered band that wrapped around which symbolistically told Sansa's life from the Tully and Stark beginnings to the entanglement with the Lannisters," Carragher wrote on her website.
For the wedding of Sansa and Tyrion, Cersei was garbed in a regally dark gown with the Lannister lions rampant on the sleeves. Carragher painted the design on to organza, then embroidered it in layers on to the fabric, cutting the organza away at the end.
While, however, the gown might be used on less formal occasions, it is no less intricately wrought, with its heavy construction including beads, mesh wire, crystals and metal rings. Even at rest, Cersei is every inch a Lannister.
If you look carefully, you can see that the insect features quite heavily in Qartheen fashion. Not, however, the flat embroideries of Westerosi fashion, but fully sculptured renditions that look as though they'll lift off and flutter away, as seen here on the left side (looking at him) of Xaro Xhoan Daxos' vest.
This is just a tiny sampling of the work Carragher has done on Game of Thrones. You can see a whole lot more on her website, as well as detailed step-by-step demonstrations for how she creates an embroidery, and another for how she achieved the scaling on Daenerys' dress.