The Game of Thrones is the highly acclaimed HBO TV adaptation of George R.R. Martin's fantasy book series, A Song of Ice and Fire.  It is a rich tapestry in every sense of the word.  Many compelling and sometimes morally ambiguous characters, engaging multiple plot lines, great acting and strong designs and backgrounds have all made it wildly popular.  The use of nudity and violence drew some criticism and no doubt also contributed to its appeal.

The story is about an epic struggle for the Iron Throne in the Seven Kingdoms, a place in the fictional continent of Westeros at the end of a decade long summer.  Several noble houses battle it out in a vicious civil war while ignoring the approaching winter and threats from across the sea and far north where only a 700 foot ice wall and small band of men called the Night Watch separates the kingdom from fearsome mystical creatures.

It compasses so much - honor and valor as well as cowardice, corruption and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, love and hate, acceptance and rejection, crime and punishment, greed and selflessness, freedom and slavery, poverty and privileged wealth, religion, social hierarchy, gender inequalities - in the lives of the highborn and the "small folk" (peasants) of this fantasy world.   Part of the attraction of these series are the parallels of that imagined place with our own reality and history.

House of Lannister (Lion)
The difficult and sometimes brutal lives portrayed were no different from those found in the harsh European medieval period the series is inspired by.  One key inspiration comes from one of the civil wars in English history - the War of the Roses (1455-85) where the Lancasters (red rose) fought against the Yorks (white rose) for the English throne  - the Lannisters and Starks in the series. Hadrian's Wall and perhaps even the Great Wall of China are two examples of real walls which probably inspired the ice wall. The nomadic tribe, the Dothraki, is reminiscent of the Mongols.

The attention to design detail is astounding as is the skill and scope of the many designers and crafts people involved in the making of this series. They worked to create the different places and set the look of the people in the story using many cultural inspirations.

The costume designer was Michele Clapton.  Her vision of how the rich costumes of some of the main female characters would look was translated into reality by the highly talented London based costume hand embroiderer, Michele Carragher.

Here are some of her amazing work which feature all sorts of embroidery techniques including bead embroidery. The detail from Cersei's red velvet wedding gown at the top shows the rampant lions which are the heraldry (called "sigil" in the series) of the House of Lannister. Michele Carragher incorporated threads, pearls, Swarovski crystals, metal beads, Italian tubular mesh wire, closed jump rings and fine metal purl for the raised design.

Another Cersei costume shows the exquisite marriage between embroidery and beads.

The matriarch of the northern Starks, Catelyn, wears more somber colored garments embellished with the fish symbol, a sign of the Tully House where she comes from.

The threat from across the sea is Danerys Targaryen who marries the leader of the Dothraki tribe and becomes their Khaleesi (queen).  She hopes to win back the Iron Throne which is rightly hers.  The emblem of the Targaryens is the dragon as their ancestors once rode dragons. 

Naturally the costume designer envisioned a dragonscale dress which would grow more detailed as the season went on just as Danerys grows as a leader in her own right.  Michel Carragher added Miyuki tila and drop beads as the final embellishments to this smocked costume.

Sansa Stark, the beautiful elder daughter of Catelyn and Ned Stark wears the direwolf symbol of her House on her wedding costume:

Again, the detail shows the extraordinary workmanship, both front and back, with the skilful use of threads and beads.

Other noteworthy costumes include those with amazing fabric and bead insects on them.

Simply breathtaking! Be sure to pay close attention to the costumes and jewelry if you are also a fan of the books and tv series!

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