Inside the Obsessive Fantasy World of ‘Game of Thrones’ Cosplay
Imagine moving into George R.R. Martin’s engrossing brainchild permanently—to throw on a corset, pick up a dagger, and fight your way toward the iron throne.
Game of Thrones fanatics relish spending an hour in Westeros, a magical land where families have badass mottos, dragons run rampant, and sassy eunuchs are in charge of foreign policy. But imagine being able to move into George R.R Martin’s engrossing brainchild permanently—to throw on a corset, pick up a dagger, and fight your way towards the iron throne. A group of Italian cosplayers has made this fantasy their reality.
The Asoiaf Cosplay consists of over 50 players who come together at least once a month at conventions and events. Each member plays a different character from Game of Thrones, and together they enact portions of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. It’s like playing dress up, except with precise attention to detail, actual grownups, and a whole lot more implied incest. We managed to track down a few of these dedicated fans to gab about HBO, cosplay co-workers, and getting really weird looks from strangers on the street.
Sara Briarose (Arianne Martell & Shae & Daenerys Targaryan)
“I chose Arianne because her description matches how I look, and she's strong, stubborn and sultry. Oh, and of course I love Dorne and its hot, spicy atmosphere! She isn't in the HBO series yet, so I had to design her costumes following my own fantasy and inspirations. I enjoy the creative process of transforming a costume from a drawing on paper to its final form in fabrics and sequins so much! I made three different looks for Arianne: a court dress, a fresh and sexy veil gown for Arianne's private rooms (actually, to face the heat of summer conventions!) and an outfit for horseback riding in the Dornish desert.
Shae was not my first choice for a cosplay, as I thought I would not fit her very well, but the boy who was then courting me and is now my boyfriend convinced me I would be perfect. He actually cosplays Tyrion Lannister! First I decided to play Shae from the books, with a simple dress and a certain golden hands necklace... Then I choose her blue dress from her first meeting with Tyrion in Season 1 of HBO series. Now I'm really looking forward to see her new costumes in season 4, and maybe recreating one of them!
Dany is not my favorite character, and I actually find her a bit annoying both in the books and the series. Nonetheless, she's strong, fierce and badass, and she's got dragons! So I decided to challenge myself: up until the moment I cosplayed Daenerys, I always chose characters who looked more or less like me. Dany was my first cosplay using a wig (and I can tell, using a platinum white wig when you have a mane of ebony rebel curls can be a real nightmare!), and she's a bit paler than I am, so I had to play with makeup. It was hard, but fun!”
Sonia Scipioni (Daenarys Targaryen)
“I always liked to dress up and play a character. Growing up, I started to attend comic conventions and to be aware of the cosplay world. The decision to try a GoT character happened about a year ago. I had already read the books, but after the TV show came out, I was amazed by the splendor of the costumes.
I really like my character so I always take it a little personally when something happen to her. She lost her husband and her child and it was really hard. She's trying to come back to Westeros and the road is dangerous, but every time she overcomes an obstacle, I'm proud and happy. My hopes for her are to finally kick some ass with her dragons and sit on the Iron Throne!”
Martina Girlanda (Sansa Stark)
“I had never been a cosplayer before GoT, but I have always liked acting. When I saw the first season of GoT and read the books I loved this saga so much that I immediately looked for something that could combine acting and GoT. Cosplay was perfect. Being a cosplayer of GoT makes you feel like you are living the adventures of your favorite characters in their world, and lets you forget about your own life and your problems for a little while.
While reading the books and watching the TV series I found a lot of similarities between Sansa Stark and me. At the beginning of the story, Sansa seems to live in an enchanted world, where brave gentlemen save delicate ladies and they love each other forever and ever. In her world there is no violence and no bad men, there is only love and happiness. I loved Sansa’s growth during the story, because I think that every person at a certain point in their life must face reality, and Sansa does it when she realizes that Joffrey is a pervert and a cruel boy, not the lovely prince she thought he was. In the beginning she is scared and she seems absolutely weak and unable to react, but despite all she has to endure she goes on and never gives up. She is stronger than she seems, despite her apparent fragility, and playing her role makes me feel like I am, too. I hope Sansa becomes stronger and stronger, and finally finds some happiness—she deserves that.”
Andrea Cipriani (Robb Stark & Sandor “The Hound” Clegane)
“The characters I've played are Robb Stark, Oberyn Martell and the Hound. Playing the Hound happened a little bit by chance, but now, after a bit of time, I have to say that it's nice to have the face burn and always be angry.
The relationships between our associates are really good, so much so that many of us consider the association as a kind of family. Our passion for cosplay GoT is really an excuse to get together with really great people.”
Federica Antonelli (Sansa Stark and Shae)
“My cosplay passion was born some years ago, when I was 12 and my mom made a costume for me! I was a comic-addict and I attended some conventions in Rome. Then, after a long period off, I started again with a GoT cosplay. I cannot explain why: I just read the book, saw the first season and fell in love.
I'm not a ‘damsel in distress’ in the real life but it is quite funny to play that role when I wear Sansa’s stuff. When I become her, I have the opportunity to change myself very deeply and be another person for one day. My parents don’t like the mess I make when I create my costumes but they're pretty proud of me when they see what I’ve made. Really, I don't care about what people say: you can think I'm weird, strange and just a looser nerd but...I like it! And I don't stop cosplaying just because someone says that this is stupid.
When something happens to a GoT character, I take it really bad! When Eddard Stark died I cried. When Robb Stark died I cried longer and stronger. It’s so painful because we don't know what happens to the Hound. It’s so hard being a G.R.R. Martin fan! Generally, I think HBO does a good job. Costumes and scenography are very detailed and I like the way some characters look. It’s close to the books!
I’ll be watching the premiere on my sofa, with my English bulldog. I won’t be at a huge party; watching Game of Thrones is a sort of religious moment for me and I don't want have to be chatting people or listening to people ask who is who and why that character is dead. The worst people are the ones that say, “I don't like Game of Thrones” and spend hours and hours explaining why they don’t like the show...while you're trying to watch it, of course!”
Caterina Calissi (Catelyn Stark & Edmure Tully)
“My cosplay identity doesn't affect my life in any serious way and I’ve never had troubles disconnecting from my role. There are just some funny...collateral effects. My first GoT themed cosplay was as Catelyn Stark and one of my closest friends was cosplaying Arya. She started calling me ‘Mommy’ for fun, and that nickname spread throughout the group. So now I’m everybody's ‘Mommy’! My family and friends are very supportive, by the way. I've never gotten any negative comments, but I don't think I would care anyway. For me, it's just a hobby. Some people play football, some people carve wood ... I cosplay!”