Gwendoline Christie on Becoming Brienne of Tarth, the Woolmark Prize, and the Importance of Beauty

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The journey to this Gwendoline Christie interview starts where she does—in London. Woolmark has invited 12 designers to compete for their prestigious international fashion prize in the UK capital, and Christie is one of the judges. She meets with candidates like Brandon Maxwell and Angel Chen, reviews their designs, and hotly debates their fates with style pros like Alber Elbaz.

The journey to this Gwendoline Christie interview starts where she does—in London. Woolmark has invited 12 designers to compete for their prestigious international fashion prize in the UK capital, and Christie is one of the judges. She meets with candidates like Brandon Maxwell and Angel Chen, reviews their designs, and hotly debates their fates with style pros like Alber Elbaz. If we had a narrator, this is where they’d boom: “She really does.”

In the span of 25 minutes, Christie names die-hard fashion fixtures like educator Louise Wilson and activist Sinead Burke; she raves about Japanese dyeing techniques; she rhapsodizes about emerging artiste and Woolmark Prize winner Edward Crutchley with the passion of Kanye discussing Kanye.

“He made grunge-style tie-dye and put it on an American college jacket!” she exclaims. “He also took iconic forms of leather jacket and combined it with 18th-century frock coats. And he did it with wool! That kind of elevation in design is the mark of great designers. I felt like we’d found a new voice. For him, it’s not about gender—it’s about what’s decorative and beautiful…it’s really the essence of design.”

If you’re a fashion nerd, you should pore through Crutchley’s latest collection immediately. If you’re a drama geek, however, hang on, because Christie is just as keen to dish about her post-Thrones gig in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Directed by Nicholas Hytner, the production marks a Stark departure from Christie’s warrior past and casts her as Titania, the mythic Queen of the Faeries. “But there’s a twist,” Christie reveals. “In this production, Titania speaks all of [King] Oberon’s lines, and he speaks all of hers. She’s in charge of the forest; she makes him fall in love with a donkey and make a fool of himself. It’s a total power shift in the script.”

“DO YOU KNOW WHAT? IT’S SO HARD TO MOVE IN BRIENNE’S COSTUME.”

Of course, there’s another power shift hanging over all this—the one on Sunday night’s episode of GoT where Christie’s beloved Brienne of Tarth gets knighted by Jaime Lannister. It was the culmination of blood, sweat, tears, and one very grumpy bear. It also put considerable weight on Christie’s shoulders, and not just emotionally. “Do you know what? It’s so hard to move in Brienne’s costume. Her armor weighs two stone,” which is about 28 pounds. “You put it on for the first time, and you can’t move,” shares Christie. That makes Brienne’s feats of fighting all the more formidable. “So as the character, you’ve got an obstacle to overcome just to move in your own clothing. I think that’s a really interesting insight,” she says of her character’s journey. “It always starts in part with the costume, because clothing is really important. It’s the language we choose to communicate how we feel about ourselves.”

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