Costume Design Emmy: ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘American Horror Story,’ ‘Downton Abbey’ clash

game of thrones american horror story freak show downton abbey

This year’s Emmys include the introduction of an award for Best Period/Fantasy Costume Design. In previous years, costume prizes were divided between series, movie/miniseries and variety. Starting this year, they’re separated by era: contemporary and period/fantasy. Who will Emmy voters choose in this inaugural contest?

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In the past, period and fantasy fare dominated the genre awards for costume design thanks to their elaborate details. So, this new category is filled with past Emmy contenders, including the returning champ for Best Series Costumes, “Game of Thrones” (designed by Michele Clapton). This HBO hit has contended for costume design in each of its five seasons, also winning in 2012. 

This year’s nomination is for the season’s penultimate episode, “The Dance of Dragons,” which features an ambush against Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and a heartbreaking human sacrifice. The “Thrones” costumes have been formidable because the show takes place across multiple settings, climates, cultures and class levels, giving voters the opportunity to reward a wide array of wardrobes.

But “American Horror Story” (designed by Lou Eyrich) is also a returning champ, having won last year’s award for Best Movie/Miniseries Costumes. While FX’s horror anthology has been nominated every year of its run, last year’s victory was its first. It hopes for a second in a row for its “Freak Show” installment, set in 1952 at the titular traveling carnival. Its nomination is for the episode “Monsters Among Us,” the season premiere episode which introduces its eclectic cast of characters.

Downton Abbey” (designed by Anna Mary Scott Robbins) has also been nominated every year, winning in 2011 when it competed as a miniseries, but it hasn’t prevailed since it moved into the series race. Will this latest category change improve the show’s luck? It contends with “Episode 9,” in which the Crawly family is invited to a shooting party in Northumberland. But this is actually the first nomination for designer Robbins; she was preceded on the show by Susannah Buxton (2011-2012) and Caroline McCall (2013-2014).

This is the fifth and final nomination for the costumes of “Boardwalk Empire” (designed by John Dunn) which ended its run on HBO last fall. Even though the show has been a juggernaut in Creative Arts races over the years, it has never won for its costumes. It’s nominated this year for “Golden Days for Boys and Girls,” the season premiere, which finds Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) in Cuba.

Rounding out the nominees is the category’s only rookie: the PBS miniseries “Wolf Hall” (designed by Joanna Eatwell) set during the reign of King Henry VIII (Damian Lewis) in England. One must never underestimate the appeal of the Tudors in a costume contest: HBO’s miniseries “Elizabeth I” won in 2006 and Showtime’s “The Tudors” won in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

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Meet the guy who won our contest to predict the Emmys last year — and learn how he did it and how you can be our next Gold Derby superstar. 

Last year, our Experts had an accuracy rate of 58.62% when it came to predicting the Emmy winners. That score tied them with both Gold Derby’s Editors and the Top 24 Users (those two dozen folks who did the best at predicting last year’s Emmys). Our Users scored  51.72% (Click on any of these groups to see what they got right and wrong last year.)

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Photo: Jessica Lange in “American Horror Story: Freak Show.” Credit: Everett/REX

Photo: Maggie Smith in “Downton Abbey.” Credit: Joan Wakeham/REX

Photo: Emilia Clarke in “Game of Thrones.” Credit: HBO/Everett/REX

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