Michele Clapton on Stitch, Please!: 'How I designed costumes for Game of Thrones and The Crown'

The award-winning costume designer on her career highlights and why her industry doesn't get the recognition it deserves.

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Michele Clapton is responsible for some of the most recognisable costumes in TV and movies, having designed for Game of Thrones and The Crown.

And she's worked with some of the biggest names in entertainment, like Meryl Streep and Cher.

Looking back at her time on the HBO fantasy programme, the Emmy and BAFTA-winning costume designer remembers the final costume for Sansa Stark (played by Sophie Turner, below) as a particular highlight.

"Sansa's final costume was a celebration of almost every craft in the building, from armoury to leather to embroidery to printing so that was a culmination of everyone's hard work.

"It was great because on [screen] they were my hands dressing it, which somehow seemed really poignant at the end of that epic nine years of my life I spent on the show."

Michele also particularly remembers Daenerys' costumes "because there was so much texture and workmanship involved."

She adds about her time on Game of Thrones: "I learned so much doing that show and it actually created careers for so many people who had nine years to develop and hone their skills and learn."

The designer has also worked on many historical dramas and TV shows and movies about real people, like The Devil's Whore - about the English Civil War - and The Crown (pictured at top).

In those cases, Michele says it's important to create the well-known fashion items correctly so that you can give yourself space to be creative in other areas.

"For instance on The Crown with the Queen, we all think we know her story, we've got so much reference to look at. If you didn't get the wedding dress or the coronation dress right, then no-one is going to believe anything else you do.

"Usually if it's a historical piece I'll research quite extensively and I'll know the boundaries of the period then after that it's about drama and storytelling.

"After you've followed the rules of any period to some extent you can actually then have fun and play around within it a bit more because it's a drama not a documentary at the end of the day."

'I love individuality - I think that counts for such a lot'

Michele shares her expertise and experience as a judge on BBC Three's Stitch, Please! a three-part series that sees contestants compete against one another to create garments inspired by the hottest looks in pop culture.

Each episode, hosted by RuPaul's Drag Race UK vs The World winner Blu Hydrangea, introduces viewers to a new pair of stitchers who put their sewing skills to the test, and explores their personal stories and passion for costume design.

The show is based at a seventeenth-century castle in County Antrim and the stitchers have 12 hours and a £100 budget to create looks inspired by the works of some world-renowned costume and fashion designers before going head-to-head and modelling their outfits on the runway.

BBC/Waddell Media/Press Eye Ltd

Michele says she always tries to encourage young people to join her line of work: "It's such a growing industry and we need so many more people in it all the time because films are expanding and there are more studios being built.

"There are so many varied careers in a costume department, from embroidery to model making. Not everyone has to be a designer. For every film I do, I maybe have 80 crew, so there's 80 jobs of people doing incredibly interesting and valuable crafts."

For young people considering a career in her industry, Michele recommends going to a good design, art or fashion college and getting work experience. "There are some really good schemes now to find your way into the industry and to find out which aspects particularly appeal to you," she says.

But she also tells young people that being a costume designer "can be hugely pressured at times and not everyone can really take that".

For amateurs who want to have a go at home, Michele says it's great to repurpose clothes and to remake vintage or second-hand pieces.

"I love individuality and I think that counts for such a lot. A lot of people also do cosplay where you can create different characters yourself and I think that's a really interesting way into design and making."

'She's just such a sort of force of nature'

Despite her success in the industry, Michele argues costume designers are still not treated with the proper respect they deserve.

"I think we're very much the poor relations as far as the hierarchy in filmmaking goes. Maybe that comes from it being a woman's department.

"And we're probably not as well paid as some of the other heads of department, which I find shocking. So I'm a big, big advocate for it being more appreciated.

"But I think it's beginning to be rectified."

After winning an Oscar this year for Cruella, fellow British costume designer Jenny Beavan called for pay equity for people in her industry.

And despite working on some of the biggest TV shows and movies, Michele admits she still gets star-struck, like when she met Meryl Streep and Cher on the movie Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

"Cher is so iconic. She's just such a sort of force of nature and so incredible and has been going forever and still maintains this sort of aura about her."

BBC Three