LEADING ART COLLEGE WELCOMES VISIT FROM GAMES OF THRONES COSTUME EMBROIDERER
Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) has built on its programme of industry speakers with a visit from Michele Carragher, a costume embroiderer for the massive hit TV show, Game of Thrones.
In a lecture to a packed audience of costume and textile students at the college’s University-level campus in Hartlepool, Michele expanded on the path that led her to work in the film and television industry as a principle costume embroiderer. She talked about her early career, studying Fashion Design at The London College of Fashion and working in textile conservation – repairing and restoring historical textiles – before moving into a career in costume for film and television.
Initially working as a costume assistant and maker, Michele gravitated towards the decoration and embellishment of costumes, using her skills in hand embroidery and surface decoration. The first production that saw her undertake the role of a principal costume embroiderer was for HBO’s 2005 Emmy costume award-winning production of Elizabeth 1. Her most recent work has been on HBO’s 2012/15 costume award-winning television series Game of Thrones, working on all six seasons to date, as well as the 2016 film Assassin’s Creed with Michael Fassbender.
Michele said: “Every job I have worked on and each designer I have collaborated with has contributed to my career development but obviously Game of Thrones has been a particular highlight. I am very lucky to have worked on such a project which has helped me greatly, allowing me to experiment and highlight the work that I am capable of creating.
“I also have a fondness for working on Elizabeth 1st, because it was my breakthrough project as principal costume embroiderer and as it was a smaller production I was more involved in the costume design development process, sourcing and buying fabrics and trimmings at the start and then working on the embroidery and embellishments. I think this was where I started to feel comfortable in a creative field and was able to start to develop my skills further.”
During the stimulating talk, the hopeful students learned much about her work in film and television, including how she developed her style and techniques, as well as giving them a comprehensive insight into her job. She also showed examples of her embroidery work and explain about the process of how she created some of the designs for the television series Game of Thrones and Elizabeth 1, which starred Helen Mirren.
Hoping to inspire the next generation of costumiers and designers, Michele said: “It can take time to get into this industry as there is no direct route, so my advice is to try and adapt and evolve your style along the way. Channel your energy into your work, love what you do and put your heart and soul into it.
“If you want to do embroidery it is still good to have some on set experience as a costume assistant, to see how all the departments come together to create each project and you will see how your work may translate to screen. If you eventually want to design then having knowledge and experience in all aspects of costume is a great grounding to help you in the future communicating to others what your vision is and how to achieve it. Above all, however long the hours, and how difficult it may be to achieve your desired result, always remember it is such a fantastic creative world to be a part of.
“I also think work experience is a very valuable thing to do for anyone who is considering a career within costume, which should be seen as an investment, where you can promote yourself and your skills, gain knowledge and most importantly develop contacts for future work.”
BA (Hons) Costume Interpretation with Design student Hayley Stuart 21, from Hesleden in Hartlepool, said: “I thought Michele’s work was inspiring and the presentation was a great insight to the working roles in the costume industry. It gave us a look into all the behind the scenes work that goes into a production including the extensive research needed for her work to fully represent the character.”
Nicole Blank, 23, from Wallsend in Newcastle, also on the BA (Hons) Costume Interpretation with Design degree, said: “The part I enjoyed the most was Michele talking through each costume, explaining why the embroidery was designed in that particular way and how it reflects the character.
“I also found it interesting when she explained the process of how the embroidery and stump work is created and what it’s like working within costume in TV/Film, as it gave me an insight into a different aspect of the costume industry.”
Fellow BA (Hons) Costume Interpretation with Design degree student, 21-year-old Nikki Wilson from New Silksworth in Sunderland, added: “I was overwhelmed how talented Michele is, she was truly inspirational. I’m a major fan of Game of Thrones and I’m constantly amazing by the costumes every episode, I loved how Michele told us the hidden meaning behind her embroidery on the different characters’ costumes.”