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Photo by Helen Sloan, courtesy of HBO

Look of the Week: Stark style in the new Game of Thrones teaser

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Jan 20, 2019

Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!

The slow Game of Thrones final season rollout delivered a premiere date — Sunday, April 18 — and a continued focus on Winterfell. Winter is here, which means a whole lot of icy imagery in the early teasers. So far the amount of new footage is minimal; Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is greeted at her new beau’s childhood home by his stepsister Sansa (Sophie Turner). Seeing these characters interact for the first time is fun, but it is not a surprise. 

Game of Thrones Season 8

Credit: HBO

Unbeknownst to them, this stepsister is actually Jon's cousin, meaning the woman he just slept with is his aunt. It's a relationship update which is going to make for interesting dinner and battle planning conversations when either Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) or Sam (John Bradley) spill this particular secret. Daenerys is offered free reign of this Northern stronghold, but there is plenty to read between the lines of Sansa's five-word statement. 

A moment out of context can be interpreted in many different ways, and because HBO is only giving morsels — a longer trailer is coming — it means speculation is based on not much at all. But that is not going to stop me from examining what these particular clothing and hair choices mean for the final season. The clues are there in Michele Clapton's costumes and Kevin Alexander's hair design. Choices made by each department are no accident; what looks good on screen is not the only aspect driving Stark and Targaryen style.   

Game of Thrones
The mess that was the contrived friction between Sansa and Arya (Maisie Williams) in Season 7 does make me worry that Sansa's next rival is going to be Daenerys. Her mouth might be smiling when she offers up Winterfell, but there is an icy tone when she says “your grace.” It could just be the weather and the predicament they are in; this is not the time for banners and balloons to welcome a new Queen.

Alternatively, rather than going for the cliché of pitting powerful women against each other, it might be a case of another round of Sansa versus Jon (Kit Harington). Daenerys has Jon’s ear after all, plus the half-siblings/cousins have a track record of withholding important information from each other (see the Battle of the Bastards).

Obviously, conflict between characters is needed for drama to thrive, but it will be awfully dull if Sansa and Jon continue this dance of mistrust, particularly when factoring in how much they have been through to get to this point. However, a glimmer of unity is offered up via Michele Clapton's costume design; Jon has not had a Targaryen clothing makeover.

Game of Thrones
Prior to the daring dragon-aided rescue of the dumb-dumbs who went to capture a wight, Daenerys has had little experience of freezing climates. This chilly weather is something she has got to get used to, but at least she has the outerwear to keep her warm and set her apart from the brown and black color palette dominating the Stark winter wardrobe. Her icy-toned coat is Westeros couture of the highest order. She isn’t trying to look like anyone else.

Daenerys doesn’t need to fit in with Jon’s family, even if their bloodline is much closer than most suspect. The additional fur shrug that appeared on the cover of Entertainment Weekly is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps this will be added later as a sign of acceptance, or perhaps it was just to give Jon and Daenerys a look of coupledom for the magazine.

Feigned politeness might be hinted at in Sansa’s cordial welcome, but the new “Crypts of Winterfell” teaser suggests Sansa is at least open to this alliance. Daenerys does not make an appearance in this sacred Stark space, but a close-up on Sansa’s hair reveals a familiar configuration of braids. This isn’t just an elaborate hairstyle; these braids mean something to Daenerys. Not only that, but Sansa has a habit of mirroring the hair of women in power — as she has done in the past at King's Landing with Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and Cersei (Lena Headey). Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, after all.

Game of Thrones
The road to a Stark reunion has been long; Jon had barely spent any time at the home he had fought for before setting off again, but one thing we definitely know from the early teasers, Winterfell is going to play an important role. The Starks presenting a united front is also going to prove valuable if they have any chance at defeating the Night King and the army that is marching toward them. And this is where the “Crypts of Winterfell” teaser comes in.

Unlike the first “no actual new footage” tease, this clip, which runs just under 2 minutes, has a sense of purpose. Revealing the premiere date is part of this, but it also acts as a reminder that despite their very different leadership styles, Sansa and Jon are united in the shared history lurking beneath Winterfell. The position of Sansa flanked by Jon and Arya is a powerful one, even if stone monuments are wearing identical outfits, foreshadowing the death they could all be experiencing soon.

Old friends like Needle and Longclaw are present, while Ghost is not. But I guess they are saving the CGI money for the actual episodes. The only wolf present is in stone, which in turn makes me sad for all the direwolves lost over the past 7 seasons. RIP Lady, Grey Wind, Summer, and Shaggydog. Sansa doesn't have a weapon, but standing in the middle denotes her role as the Stark family leader.

Game of Thrones
There are no surprise wardrobe changes; Jon, Sansa, and Arya are all dressed as they were when we last saw them; with echoes of Ned (Sean Bean) running through their garments. It's a visual linking them to each other and this legacy via a muted brown palette and capes that match the one worn by their father.

Furthermore, the cape Sansa made Jon after they were reunited at the end of Season 5 was the first sign she had accepted him as a member of this family. Sansa is very much her mother’s daughter; she openly wore her feelings of disgust and disdain regarding her half-brother. Catelyn (Michelle Forbes) couldn’t accept Jon, but so far Sansa has not reverted back to this position.

The family crypt was introduced in the very first episode; it is a place in which schemes have been hatched, threats made, secrets have been buried and moments of reflection granted. The bloodline is a big part of this teaser as the stone memorials for Lyanna (Aisling Franciosi), Catelyn (Michelle Forbes) and Ned trigger previously spoken lines of dialogue. Lyanna’s dying wish for her brother to protect her son, Catelyn’s regrets over how she couldn’t welcome another woman’s child into her home and Ned’s declaration that Jon is a Stark.

Game of Thrones
One notable member of this family is missing from this teaser, but Bran isn’t the Bran that left Winterfell long ago. A lot of who he was has been lost — although he did play a pivotal role in the incredibly satisfying takedown of Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) in last season’s finale. The secrets Bran possesses do have the power to blow apart the allegiance Jon has made, as well as ruin a burgeoning romance. Not everyone can be like Cersei and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).

Sansa, Arya, and Jon have had their disagreements in the past, but if they look to the mistakes made by their parents, as a warning, they might just stand a chance. If nothing else the capes swinging via torchlight aesthetic looks cool af. Fire is their weapon against what is coming; unified sartorial swagger is just a bonus.

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