Wings Not Included: Faerie Costuming

Detail, Simplicity 8629 by Firefly Path. Image: Simplicity.

This Halloween, a look at faerie costumes.

Jareth’s fairy ball in Labyrinth (1986) Costume design: Ellis Flyte and Brian Froud. Image: The Atlantic / TriStar Pictures.

Part Tinkerbell, part Titania, today’s fairy look can be traced back to Brian Froud and Alan Lee’s 1978 book, Faeries. Froud collaborated on the costumes for Jim Henson’s cult fantasy, Labyrinth (1986), while Lee became best known for his conceptual design work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The year before Labyrinth, Ridley Scott’s Legend (1985) introduced the Tinkerbell-like Oona. Costume designer Charles Knode had previously worked with Scott on Blade Runner.

Annabelle Lanyon as Oona in LEGEND (1985)
Oona (Annabelle Lanyon) in Legend (1985) Costume design: Charles Knode. Image: Pinterest.

The ’90s soon brought Steven Spielberg’s Hook (1991), with Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell. In this Dream-inspired couture editorial by Koto Bolofo, the opening image channels Peter Pan — or is it Puck, with a McQueen-clad Titania?

At the Jardins de Giverny in Atelier Versace and Givenchy haute couture by Alexander McQueen, L’Officiel, September 1998. Photo: Koto Bolofo. Editor: Guylaine Tilleau. Image: jalougallery.

At the end of the decade, Michael Hoffman’s big-screen version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999) — the first in over sixty years — featured costumes by the award-winning Gabriella Pescucci (The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Age of Innocence).

Michelle Pfeiffer as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999) Costume design: Gabriella Pescucci. Image: IMDb.

Froud and Lee’s Faeries was reissued for its 25th anniversary in 2002, the same year as Koto Bolofo’s “Tinker Belle’s Forest” editorial in Vogue Nippon.

“Tinker Belle’s Forest,” Vogue Nippon, March 2002. Photo: Koto Bolofo. Editor: Nikki Brewster.
Vogue Nippon, March 2002. Photo: Koto Bolofo. Editor: Nikki Brewster.

Founded in 2005, Faerie Magazine recently featured Los Angeles’ Firefly Path on the cover. (Free download here.)

Faerie Magazine issue 39 - summer 2017
Firefly Path with Fancy Fairy Wings on the cover of Faerie Magazine, Summer 2017. Photo: Ether and Smith (Ellen McGowan). Image: Enchanted Living.

In the new millennium, fairies became an otherworldly ingredient in the urban fantasy subgenre. Holly Black’s children’s series saw a film adaptation as The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008). HBO’s True Blood introduced “the Fae” a few seasons into the show, with costume designer Audrey Fisher dressing her fairies — Claudine, Maurella, even Queen Mab — in ethereal pieces from designers like LA’s Sue Wong and Marianna Harutunian.

A glimpse of Claudine (Lara Pulver) in True Blood, season 3 (2010) Costume design: Audrey Fisher. Image: HBO.
s3 e12
Lara Pulver as Claudine in True Blood, season 3 (2010) Costume design: Audrey Fisher. Image: IMDb.
"Soul of Fire" (s4 e11, 2011)
Maurella (Kristina Anapau) wears Sue Wong and Marianna Harutunian in True Blood, season 4 (2011) Costume design: Audrey Fisher. Image: Marianna Harutunian on Etsy.

In 2015, the New York Times’ T magazine featured Faerie Magazine in its Holiday issue:

"The Faerie Fantasy," T magazine, Holiday 2015
“The Faerie Fantasy,” T magazine, Holiday 2015. Photos: Marko Metzinger, Lynn Theisen. Image: The New York Times.

The next spring saw a new BBC production of Shakespeare’s Dream, adapted by Russell T Davies and with costumes by Ray Holman (Torchwood, Fleabag).

Maxine Peake as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream
Maxine Peake as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2016) Costume design: Ray Holman. Image: BBC.

And now the Seelies, as the Fair Folk are known in Shadowhunters, have their own spinoff trilogy.

The Fair Folk (season 2 e14)
Lola Flanery as the Seelie Queen in Shadowhunters, season 2 (2017) Costume design: Shelley Mansell. Image: fandom.

Fairies have long been a fancy-dress standby, but a more recent trend is fairy costume patterns for adults. This empire maxi dress from Andrea Schewe adds wings, cape, and a crown for tissue lamé.

Simplicity 9454 by Andrea Schewe (2000) Image: Etsy.

Disco fairy rings are in store with this Simplicity design from the mid-aughts. From Elaine Heigl Designs, it has a ruffled skirt, corset, and top for sheer knits. Wings not included.

Simplicity 4902 by Elaine Heigl Designs (2004) Image: Etsy.

Also from Elaine Heigl, this fairy costume has several variations, including trousers. (“Purchased Wings.”)

Simplicity 3632 by Elaine Heigl Designs (2007) Image: Etsy.

In the teens, Cosplay by McCall’s released patterns for a horned headdress, and DIY fairy wings with matching hat and stockings — this last by cosplayer Becka Noel.

M2101 Hornery (2017) Image: Cosplay by McCall’s.
Cosplay by McCall's M2104 - Ala Glow by Becka Noel (2017)
M2104 Ala Glow by Becka Noel (2017) Image: Cosplay by McCall’s.

Simplicity has licensed several Firefly Path designs, including this highly detailed fairy princess ensemble. For your faerie wedding, designer JoEllen Elam Conway also sells Firefly Path bridal gowns and capes in her Etsy shop.

Firefly Path pattern Simplicity 8629 (2017)
Simplicity 8629 by Firefly Path (2017) Image: Simplicity.

How on-trend is faerie dressing? Out this month, Vogue’s latest book is Fantasy & Fashion.

Happy Halloween!

Saoirse Ronan in Chanel bridal couture by Karl Lagerfeld, photographed by Steven Meisel for Vogue, December 2011
Saoirse Ronan wears Chanel couture on the cover of Vogue: Fantasy & Fashion (Abrams 2020). Photo: Steven Meisel. Editor: Grace Coddington. Image:

Game of Thrones Costume Patterns

Game of Thrones costume patterns M6941 and M6940 in McCall's Spring 2014 lookbook
Queens of the Game in McCall’s lookbook, Spring 2014. Image: Issuu.

Dear HBO, Have you considered costume pattern licensing? With a new trailer for season 6, and season 5 out on DVD, here’s a look at completely official Game of Thrones sewing patterns sewing patterns inspired by Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones / The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug costume pattern S1347 in a 2014 lookbook
Fantasy Play in Simplicity’s lookbook, 2014. Image: Andrea Schewe.
Sansa Stark / Game of Thrones costume pattern S1137 in Simplicity Summer 2015 lookbook
Dark Faerie Tales in Simplicity’s lookbook, Summer 2015. Image: 3D Issue.

Costume designer Michele Clapton won three Emmys for her work on the first five seasons of Game of Thrones. Season 6 will see a new costume designer for the series: April Ferry, who designed the Emmy Award-winning costumes for HBO’s Rome (2005-2007)—which also starred Tobias Menzies, Indira Varma, and Ciarán Hinds. (Read a Costume Designers Guild bio here.)

Ciarán Hinds as Julius Caesar in HBO's Rome (2005) - costumes by April Ferry
Still of Ciarán Hinds as Julius Caesar in Rome (2005) Image: HBO / IMdB.

Update: Michele Clapton returned as costume designer during season 6, winning two more Emmys for “The Winds of Winter” and season 7’s “Beyond the Wall.”

Daenerys Targaryen's coat from "Beyond the Wall" - Game of Thrones season 7
Costume for Daenerys Targaryen from “Beyond the Wall.” Image: Making Game of Thrones.

Given the two-way relationship between Game of Thrones’ costume design and fashion, the costumes are interesting even if you don’t watch the show. (Full disclosure: I’ve made more than a few Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire costumes, including S2 Daenerys, book Quaithe, and Lyanna Stark.)

Cersei Lannister's red and gold court dress - Game of Thrones season 1-2
Cersei Lannister costume from Game of Thrones, season 1-2. Image: Bell Media.
Givenchy ensemble, fall/winter 1997–98 silk, feathers, metal, synthetic; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Friends of the Costume Institute Gifts, 2013 (2013.564a, b)
Alexander McQueen for Givenchy haute couture, Fall/Winter 1997-98 (Eclect Dissect). Image: The Costume Institute.


In spring, 2014, McCall’s released patterns for the most popular women’s Game of Thrones costumes, Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister. Both M6940 and M6941 are available as printable downloads. (I made M6940 for my Lyanna Stark costume; preview here.)

Game of Thrones / Cersei costume pattern McCall's 6940 (2014)
McCall’s 6940 (2014) Cersei Lannister costume.
Game of Thrones / Daenerys costume pattern McCall's 6941 (2014)
McCall’s 6941 (2014) Daenerys Targaryen costume.

Last month, the company launched a new Cosplay by McCall’s line with three patterns including a unisex Westerosi cloak, M2016, “for those for whom winter can’t come soon enough” (press release here). Their pattern for the cross-fastened cloak worn by the people of Westeros (including Jon Snow, Eddard Stark, and the Stark children at Winterfell) includes an optional fur capelet. There’s also a hooded version similar to Sansa Stark’s hooded cloak:

Cloak X: Jon Snow / Night's Watch / Sansa Stark cosplay pattern, Cosplay by McCall's 2016
Cosplay by McCall’s 2016 (2016) Cloak X
Hooded view of McCall's 2016 - Sansa Stark cloak
Hooded view of McCall’s 2016 (2016) Image: Cosplay by McCall’s.


Simplicity’s Game of Thrones costume patterns emerge in full plumage, but quickly change colours to evade capture.

Simplicity Game of Thrones costume patterns, before and after - S1347 / S1010 and S1246 / S1008

Simplicity Game of Thrones costume patterns, before and after - S1487 / S1009 and S1137

Andrea Schewe’s Game of Thrones adaptations for Simplicity also started appearing in 2014. Simplicity 1347 combines three Daenerys outfits—wedding dress, Dothraki Khaleesi, and Qarth court dress—with the elf Tauriel from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013). (Now out of print, but see S1010.)

Simplicity 1347 (2014) Daenerys Targaryen / Tauriel costume
Simplicity 1347 (2014) Daenerys Targaryen / Tauriel costume.

Simplicity 1487 includes court dresses for Cersei Lannister and Sansa Stark. (Now out of print, but see S1009.)

Game of Thrones Cersei / Sansa costume pattern S1487
Simplicity 1487 (2014) Cersei Lannister and Sansa Stark costumes. Image via Etsy.

Simplicity 1246 has costumes for Margaery Tyrell and Daenerys, specifically the split dress and cape she wears as leader of the Unsullied. (This version out of print, but see S1008.)

Game of Thrones / Margaery Tyrell and Daenerys costume pattern Simplicity 1246
Simplicity 1246 (2014) Margaery Tyrell and Daenerys Targaryen costumes.

Simplicity 1137 includes two Sansa Stark costumes. Michele Clapton conceived both as showing Sansa’s own handiwork: the dress with flower-embellished neckline from season 1 and ‘Dark Sansa’ from the end of season 4. The necklace refers to Sansa’s needle—“a jewelry idea of [Arya’s sword] Needle.” (See Fashionista’s interview; for more on Game of Thrones’ embroidery see Elizabeth Snead’s article in The Hollywood Reporter and embroiderer Michele Carragher’s website.) Andrea Schewe has posted tips on making the feathered neckpiece. (Still in print with new envelope, S1137.)

Game of Thrones Sansa Stark / Dark Sansa pattern Simplicity 1137
Simplicity 1137 (2015) Sansa Stark costumes.
Sansa Stark dress, bodice flower detail
Sansa Stark costume, Game of Thrones, season 1. Image: Michele Carragher.
Dark Sansa collar detail - goth Sansa / Alayne Stone costume in "The Mountain and the Viper," episode 8 of Game of Thrones S4
Dark Sansa collar detail, Game of Thrones, season 4. Image: Fashionably Geek.

Game of Thrones meets Star Wars in Simplicity 8074, a pattern for season 5’s Sand Snakes Obara and Nymeria with Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) (still S8074):

Game of Thrones + Star Wars / Sand Snakes + Rey costume pattern Simplicity 8074
Simplicity 8074 (2016) Warrior costumes: Sand Snakes and Rey.
Sand Snakes costumes from Game of Thrones S5
Sand Snakes costumes from Game of Thrones, season 5. Image: Making Game of Thrones.

HBO is owned by Time Warner, which has existing pattern licensing for DC Comics. Do you think HBO should license Game of Thrones patterns? I’d be first in line for a King’s Landing halter dress or Varys’ kimono.

Update (June 2018): Game of Thrones and Star Wars meet again in S8718 — season 7 Arya Stark with Rey from Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017):

Game of Thrones + Star Wars / Arya Stark + Rey costume pattern Simplicity 8718
Simplicity 8718 (2018) Warrior costumes: Rey and Arya.
Arya Stark sketch for Game of Thrones, season 7. Image: Making Game of Thrones.

Update (August 2018): evil queen Cersei and Dragonstone Dany were among Simplicity’s fall costume patterns:

Cersei Lannister and S7 Daenerys costume pattern Simplicity 8768 by Andrea Schewe
Simplicity 8768 (2018) Cersei and Daenerys costumes.
Queen Cersei pattern S8768 - Simplicity catalogue Autumn 2018
Cersei Lannister costume on the back cover of Simplicity’s Autumn 2018 catalogue. Image: Simplicity.

And Burda’s new Renaissance costumes work for characters like Sansa Stark and Tyrion Lannister. Game of Thrones wedding, anyone?

Sansa Stark wedding dress pattern Burda 6398 (2018)
Burda 6398 (2018) Image: Simplicity.
Game of Thrones men's costume pattern Burda 6399 (2018)
Burda 6399 (2018) Image: Simplicity.

Update (September 2018): Just in time for Halloween, McCall’s released Game of Thrones season 7 costume patterns for Dany, Arya, and mad queen Cersei. Winter is coming…

Game of Thrones S7 Dragonstone Daenerys Targaryen costume pattern McCall's 7854
McCall’s 7854 (2018) Daenerys Targaryen. Image: McCall’s.
Game of Thrones S7 Arya Stark Winterfell costume pattern McCall's 7855
McCall’s 7855 (2018) Arya Stark costume. Image: McCall’s.
Game of Thrones S7 Cersei Lannister costume pattern McCall's 7856
McCall’s 7856 (2018) Cersei Lannister costume. Image: McCall’s.
Battle of the Throne: Game of Thrones-inspired costumes in the McCall's Fall 2018 lookbook
Battle of the Throne: Game of Thrones-inspired costumes in the McCall’s Fall 2018 lookbook. Image: Issuu.

Update (spring 2019): Michele Clapton’s book, Game of Thrones: The Costumes, is out in November.

Game of Thrones: The Costumes book by Michele Clapton with Gina McIntyre
Game of Thrones: The Costumes, by Michele Clapton with Gina McIntyre (Insight Editions, 2019) Image: Vanity Fair.

Update (spring 2020): One more Game of Thrones pattern, for Sansa as Queen in the North.

Sansa Stark, Queen in the North costume - Simplicity 9089
Simplicity 9089 (2020) Sansa, Queen in the North costume. Image: Simplicity.
Image: Pinterest.

Update (fall 2022): A House of the Dragon pattern? This cape costume includes Targaryen-style dragon and octopus appliqués:

Targaryen / House of the Dragon fantasy cape costume pattern M8335 (2022)
“Capes of Thrones”: McCall’s lookbook, Fall 2022. Image: Issuu.