Daenerys Targaryen had a long legacy to live up to across seven seasons of Game of Thrones, and the dragon imagery was never too far away from her closet, with garments constructed for the hottest and coldest climates. In House of the Dragon, Dany's ancestors rule the Seven Kingdoms, and the symbolism isn't quite as obvious — with a few exceptions. Multiple dragons fly the skies over King's Landing and its attendant territories, so it would be too on the nose to lean into the scales theme with the choice of jewelry and material texture. Why imitate when they have the real thing?
Costume designer Jany Temime takes the reins on this Game of Thrones prequel. She has some big boots to fill, as Michele Clapton (who did the majority of GoT) created a rich tapestry of designs, winning multiple awards. Even when later seasons floundered narratively, the costumes never dipped in quality. Temime has risen to the occasion, breathing life into the Targaryens at a time when they are not simply an echo from the past. Their infamous sigil's red and black scheme is instrumental to their aesthetic, but this eye-catching combination is not their only option.
The first six episodes feature many noteworthy sartorial flexes and prove that fashion was thriving 200 years before the likes of Cersei, Sansa, and Daenerys. Here are 10 of the most significant looks (including the big time jump) in House of the Dragon so far:
Unlike the rest of his family, Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) is anything but subtle regarding brandishing the dragon symbol of his house. Is it dorky to wear a helmet that has wings? After seeing the result, we are inclined to say yes (though not to Daemon’s face). At least he doesn’t wear this into battle, and this armor is set aside for exhibition events like the Heir’s Tournament. The craftsmanship is fit for a prince, and the red and black plumage juxtaposes with Ser Criston Cole’s (Fabien Frankel) no-frills armor. Prince Daemon’s peacocking makes what follows all the more satisfying, and losing to Criston is what he deserves for sporting such a flashy design.
Death is never too far away in Westeros, and the Targaryen black and red sigil colors are easy to adapt for mourning attire. It is noticeable that only Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) is offering a flash of crimson via her cape lining. In contrast, the loss of his wife and son is etched all over Viserys’ (Paddy Considine) black garments. Only gold breaks up the monochromatic ensemble — he is still king. Not that Rhaenyra is celebrating, but this differs from the pale shades from earlier. She wore red to the Heir’s Tournament before her mother's death, and this shade recurs more frequently afterward.
Getting named heir to the Iron Throne is a big deal no matter the person; however, Rhaenyra becomes the first woman bestowed with this honor. Of course, this requires a gown and cape to match the occasion, and Temime delivered a showstopping frock that Cersei Lannister would snatch for herself. From the front, the gold and red evoke the Lannister scheme. Still, Rhaenyra’s black jewel-encrusted investiture garment is full of Targaryen royalty symbolism to match the occasion. It is easy to miss that King Viserys is standing behind her as a look this bold commands all attention.
Even if he quite literally spills his guts, the Crabfeeder (Daniel Scott-Smith) never says a word while laying claim to the Bloodstone and becoming a symbol of the free cities. One big part of his scary vibe is that he nails men to stakes on the beach and slowly lets his crabs devour them. Adding to the mystique is the broken mask that isn’t doing a great job hiding that Greyscale afflicts him. The missing portion adds to his ferocious aesthetic as it suggests he has been in plenty of skirmishes in the past—and been triumphant until Daemon had his way. Oh, and if you are wondering if there is something familiar about this goldish visage, then you are correct. In a few centuries, Daenerys will find herself with a Sons of the Harpy problem who took some style pointers from the Crabfeeder.
Borrowing clothes from your mother’s closet takes on a sinister tone when seduction provides the motive. Alicent (Emily Carey) is encouraged by her father, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), to grab a few frocks when she stops by the King’s private quarters to offer solace during his grief. Yep, Otto is using his dead wife’s dresses to make his teenage daughter look more grown-up and, therefore, more alluring. Here, the blue number is provocative without being too overt in its cutout detailing. There is no hiding how overwhelmed she looks in this dress, even with the gold accessories tying it together. It is also notable that Alicent recycles this garment in “We Light the Way,” and it no longer gives little girl playing at being an adult. It is also a warning that she hasn’t forgotten her roots.
Even when winter was coming, King’s Landing offered a sunnier climate. Here, this is reflected in lighter fabrics worn by younger Alicent and Rhaenyra. Despite bristling at being married off, Rhaenyra has finally succumbed to the societal pressure of picking a suitor, which means wearing a dress that also doubles as fancy wallpaper inspiration. In what would be a tender moment if he wasn’t her uncle, Daemon takes note of the necklace his niece still wears. Yep, it is the same token made from Valyrian steel he gifted to her in the first episode. Of course, Daemon is wearing red and black because his closet knows no other colors.
Game of Thrones weddings are more memorable for the violence that occurs than the matrimonial dress, which is a pattern House of the Dragon follows. Not that the bridal couture isn’t top-notch; however, it is hard to focus on gorgeous gowns when multiple murders occur. Every dressmaker this side of Westeros must dread their work being overshadowed, but it happens every time. In the case of Rhaenyra, her white and gold textured dress is restrained opulence. The red jewels in her hair are giving Targaryen glitz, but it is the groom who steals the spotlight in brocade gold. Yes, Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate) will end the day heartbroken after his real beau (in a matching fabric) is beaten to death. Before all goes to hell, House Velaryon makes its mark.
One other person steals the wedding spotlight before a murder on the dance floor eclipses all (cue the Sophie Ellis-Bextor). Alicent makes her dissatisfaction heard without ever having to utter a word. Color shows loyalty, so when Viserys’ wife enters the banquet late in a shade not in the Targaryen scheme, it makes a loud statement. Green is the color of Alicent’s family and is the hue that House Hightower flames burn when it needs to call soldiers and bannermen to war. “We Light the Way” is the Hightower motto and the name of this episode, which underscores the intent behind this outfit choice for a very public event.
The midseason time jump gives Rhaenerys (now played by Emma D’Arcy) the chance to have three heirs to the throne. “The Princess and the Queen” opens with Rhaenyra in labor, and a request from Alicent (Olivia Cooke) to see the newborn is an ugly power move. Rhaenyra won’t let her baby out of sight, so she grabs the nearest suitable gold and silver-grey dress for the circumstance. Husband Laenor (John Macmillan) is doing his part, and while baby Joffrey (named after Laenor’s dead ex) is barely an hour old, the blanket he is cradled in is pure Targaryen prince decadence.
Alicent’s green statement wasn't a once-and-done moment: A decade later, she is still leaning into her Hightower heritage. Now, her mood is darker, and so is her wardrobe (which also reads bluer under certain lights). Gold thread and sheer sleeve detail coupled with the jewels that keep with the overall color scheme speak to the strong hold she has over this kingdom — even she's now at the mercy of someone with a similar penchant for accessorizing. Alicent has picked her path but won’t give up her bug-loving daughter’s hand in marriage just yet. Helaena (Evie Allen) looks a lot like her half-niece Rhaenyra, although this dress looks more like one worn by Cersei’s daughter Myrcella, and things did not end well for her. Hopefully, this pastel hue is not a bad omen.
Emma Fraser has wanted to write about TV since she first watched My So-Called Life in the mid-90s, finally getting her wish over a decade later. Follow her on Twitter at @frazbelina.
TOPICS: House of the Dragon, HBO, Game of Thrones, Emily Carey, Emma D'Arcy, Matt Smith, Milly Alcock, Olivia Cooke, Paddy Considine