Taking significant leaps in time, HBO’s House of the Dragon (HoD) is rapidly advancing towards the inevitable Targaryen succession war, known as the Dance of the Dragons. In Game of Thrones (GoT), the once great dynasty has been reduced to its last surviving members, namely Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow.
Adapted from George R. R. Martin’s novel Fire & Blood, the new House of the Dragon series takes us in the middle of the complex Targaryen family tree, some 200 years before the event of GoT. The setting of the prequel is mainly familiar, with the crucial aspects of the story taking place in King’s Landing and Dragonstone, albeit slightly different to fit the earlier period.
Jani Temime, the costume designer for HoD, worked closely with the showrunners to create aesthetically pleasing outfits and add depth to the characters by reflecting their personalities, relationships, and allegiances.
King Viserys I’s tournament attire
In the first episode, King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) holds the Heir’s Tournament in honor of his son’s upcoming birth. He wears an elegant regal black, and red outfit adorned with gold lining and intricate patterns. On his head is a gold and silver crown with the family sigil.
During the tourney, Queen Aemma goes into labor, and the episode alternates between scenes of jousting violence and the brutal birth, the latter ending tragically for both the mother and child. In the same regal outfit, he seals his wife’s fate.
Daemon Targaryen’s tournament armor
Among the contestants in the Heir’s tournament, the king’s brother, Daemon (Matt Smith), instantly stands out in his grandiose black and red armor inspired by traditional samurai armor and a winged dragon helmet. The colors of the armor and dragon motifs show allegiance to House Targaryen, but the ostentation of it reveals much more about the prince’s arrogant and flashy nature. At the end of the tournament, Daemon loses a fight with Ser Criston Cole, who wears cheap-looking and battered armor.
Rhaenyra Targaryen’s heir appointment ensemble
Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock / Emma D’Arcy) wears a splendid red, black, and gold outfit for her investiture, an outfit that’s fitting for the heir to the Targaryen throne. The gown and headpiece are rich but antique, inspired by Byzantine churches‘ intricate imagery and mosaics. Around her neck is a gold necklace with sigils of the great noble houses of Westeros. The solemn costume represents the weight of the crown and Rhaenyra’s destiny.
At the beginning of the series, the princess wears light colors that signify youth and innocence but gradually appears to wear more and more of her family’s colors.
Rhaenyra Targaryen’s wedding dress
Although adventurous and reluctant to marry, Rhaenyra is composed and determined to rule. She understands the importance of a favorable political marriage. For her wedding ceremony to Laenor Valeryon (Theo Nate / John Macmillan), Rhaenyra wears a stunning white dress, a grand golden necklace around her neck, and a cloak representing the union of the two families. On the right sleeve of the cloak is the three-headed dragon sigil of House Targaryen, facing the silver seahorse of the Velaryon family on the left.
In true George R. R. Martin fashion, the wedding turns out eventful, but not in a joyous manner. We witnessed one brawl resulting in the death of Laenor’s lover and King Viserys fainting from overexertion.
Alicent Hightower’s green gown
Alicent (Emily Carey / Olivia Cooke) had her own battle to fight at the wedding. Purposefully arriving late to the party, she interrupts the King’s speech with her dramatic entrance. Alicent’s message is loud and clear, without having to utter a single word. Before the event, she was regularly seen wearing Targaryen colors, showing loyalty to her husband’s house. However, when she learns about Rhaenyra’s indiscretion that resulted in Otto Hightower’s, who happens to be her father, removal from the position of the Hand, her distrust and dissatisfaction reach their peak. Heeding her father’s warning about future conflicts over succession, Alicent decides to take action. Tension grows instantly as she appears in the doorway wearing a forest green gown. As it is explained in the episode, green is the color of the flame that Hightowers light to call their bannermen to war.
With one dress, Alicent effectively withdraws her support for her former friend and declares war on the Targaryens.
In Fire & Blood, a tourney is held on the fifth anniversary of the King’s marriage to Alicent. During the feast, the Queen wears a green gown, while Princess Rhaenyra is dressed in black and red. After that, when talking about the two opposing sides in the war, the loyalists who support Rhaenyra are referred to as blacks, while those who support Alicent’s son Aegon II are known as greens.
Otto Hightower’s Hand of the King garments
A callous, calculating figure operating from the shadows, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) resembles the notorious Littlefinger and his manipulative ways in GoT. Otto fittingly wears dark, muted colors.
His ambitions are quickly revealed as he sends his young daughter Alicent to seduce King Viserys after the queen’s death. When he is stripped of his title, Otto’s final move is convincing his daughter that she needs to act against Rhaenyra immediately or her children will face incredible danger once the King passes away.
Corlys Velaryon’s armor set
The ornate armor of Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) looks majestic yet formidable on the battlefield. Just like the Targaryen armor pieces are embellished with dragon scale patterns, the armor set of House Velaryon incorporates a fish scale-like fabric and coat of arms depicting a seahorse. Although impressive to look at, the battle armour was challenging for the actor to wear during the fight scenes.
We see Corlys in action allied with Daemon against Crabfeeder, the disfigured despot and the main villain at the start of the series.
The costumes in HoD are masterfully envisioned and designed to look spectacular on screen while also communicating the wearer’s personality and dynamics between characters. We see the lavish attires of the noble families, proudly displaying their colors and elaborate coats of arms.
Colors are particularly significant when it comes to Alicent and Rhaenyra. The changes in their attire foreshadow the Seven Realms splitting into two factions and symbolize progression towards the war of succession.