Michele Clapton: Costume Design Royalty

How would you best describe your upbringing and your early years? 

Country village; my dad owned the village garage and a couple of car/racing accessories shops. He raced cars and built engines. We were at Silverstone almost every weekend! My mum was artistic but only as a hobby; she worked with my dad. My middle sister and I always loved art, but it was I that always loved dressing up the most…

How important were your school and exam results to your career and the person that you are today?

Luckily not that important!!! But I wish now I had realised the importance of Knowledge… it widens your outlook and conversation… it gives depth to opinion…

When did you first move to London in the 80’s – I guess I probably first saw you at either Cha Cha Club or Taboo in the mid 80’s, both clubs were very formative both in my life and general outlook. I know there has been a lot written about you already during this era, particularly your Blitz club/new romantic shenanigans with so many fabulous people – but what would be one overriding message that you could give us about your London nightlife adventures? And how much of it do you actually remember?!

I arrived in 1978 at The London College of Fashion. I was desperate to live in London. I started spending nights there from 76, watching bands, going to clubs; it was all so exciting; running around the Kings Road, still very Punk then. So when I got into college I was away! I met George (Boy) and Philip Sallon very early on through my friend and subsequent flatmate Claire Tomm. Claire took me to the Blitz when it started, I felt like I had found my home. I think I learnt more about the endless possibilities of design and taste there; but the stuff I learnt at college, pattern cutting, the practicals etc have been amazing and critical. I don’t think you can teach someone design; you can only give them the skills with which to express it.

Having experienced so much, if you were to look back and have a chat with your younger self – what would you say?

Study more, and don’t be so insecure.

Your costume teams now are I’m sure quite enormous. Are you still involved with the minutiae and how much of your time is actually spent on set or is it a continual state of prep?

Design is in the detail so I obsess about the minutiae… not just in the making of the costumes but in the way they are worn and accessorised… this gives you the character… tells you so much unsaid stuff about that person. I don’t spend much time on set…I’ll go with a new costume, but once it’s set it’s back to the costume studio…

Do you still get the same satisfaction when you wrap on a huge project as you did when you were a ‘one woman band’, or do you find it even better?

Satisfaction or more often relief!

If you could narrow it down to just one….. what has been the biggest buzz in your career?

Winning the opportunity to work on Game of Thrones and being given 100% autonomy with the costume design.

What has been the most hysterical (funny hysterical or just plain hysterical) moment in your career?

I’ll come back to you on this… perhaps. 

Your own favourite outfit of all time?

Does fashion matter? Or is it just style that matters? Interwoven…but style is paramount.

Do you have a favourite piece of clothing that you always pack in your suitcase?

Margiela Tabbi Boots.

What is your favourite ever film?

Too difficult but I do love ‘West Side Story’ because I just rewatched it, ‘Man Who Fell To Earth’ for its affect on the young me; and more recently ‘Her’ was amazing.

Who is your favourite character from a film?

Steve McQueen in ‘Bullet’.

Who is your favourite artist?

Gustavo Moreau.

Who is your favourite designer?

Elsa Schiaparelli.

Who is your favourite band/musician?

Well David Bowie of course … but lots more.

Do you have a style icon ? if so who?

Hard to say…

Is there a director or actor that you would still love to work with?

Too many…