Fashion designer and model Daphne Guinness once said that fashion isn’t just about trends, but also about political history. “You can trace it from the ancient Romans to probably until the ’80s, and you can see defining moments that were due either to revolutions or changes in politics,” Guinness told Interview. Fashion, as we saw in House of the Dragon’s latest episode, is a major catalyst for the fictional turning of the Targaryen civil war—known as the “Dance of the Dragons.”
In Episode Five, Queen Alicent Hightower interrupts the king’s speech at the wedding between Princess Rhaenyra and Laenor Velaryon by walking in, wearing a green dress. For Thrones readers, this was a big moment. The realm quietly gasped when she entered the hall, and even Larys Strong whispered to his brother that this color choice was a political statement. You could rename this show Haus of the Dragon the way her runway look had the whole realm aghast. It may not have been as recognizable to audiences at home as Meghan Markle copying Princess Diana’s black mourning dress, but it certainly had more of a political statement than Tom Steyer’s little tartan tie. Let’s break it down.
After Alicent learned that Princess Rhaenyra lied to her about sleeping with Ser Criston and allowing for rumors to spread that it was with her uncle, Prince Daemon—the Queen was rightfully furious. Through her reckless actions, Rhaenyra placed her whole claim of succession in danger. Instead of wearing the traditional red and black of House Targaryen, Alicent strode into the wedding hall donning the green of House Hightower. This moment, out of all the gnarly and brutal deaths that occur in House of the Dragon, is surprisingly what ends up serving as the symbol of civil war.
The wedding was around the same time that Alicent’s father, Otto Hightower, was also dismissed as the Hand of the King. As he leaves King’s Landing, he tells his daughter that she will have to push for her son Aegon to take the throne once Viserys dies because Rhaenyra will stop at nothing to claim her seat as Queen. She may even kill her stepbrothers. By forsaking the colors of her husband’s house, Alicent is silently drumming up support for her son Aegon to succeed over Rhaenyra. Mild spoiler alert incoming! These sides will come to be known as the Blacks (led by Princess Rhaenyra) and the Greens (led by Queen Alicent), named after the colors of their great houses.
Factions will soon form, and audiences may be able to guess where certain parties come to lie. House Velaryon is now linked to House Targaryen in two different marriages: Rhaenyra and Laenor and Lord Corlys and Rhaenys (Viserys’s cousin and “The Queen Who Never Was”). Meanwhile, Alicent will have the backing of House Hightower and also Ser Criston Cole, Rhaenyra’s scorned lover whose dirty secret lives in Alicent’s back pocket. Audiences will have to wait to see how it all plays out when actress Olivia Cooke takes over Alicent’s duties for Emily Carey following a major time jump in Episode Six, but we will surely be seeing the Queen continue to slay (in more ways than one!) from here on out.
Josh Rosenberg is an entertainment writer living in Brooklyn, keeping a steady diet of one movie a day; his work can be found at Spin, Insider, Vibe, and on his personal blog at Roseandblog.com.
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