Hair Of The Dragon

A Definitive Ranking Of The Best Hairstyles In House Of The Dragon

Who knew there were so many blondes in King's Landing?

by Ani Bundel
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Since the debut of House Of The Dragon, Targaryen wigs are back on TV. These looks aren’t easy to pull off and can easily wind up unflattering. But with so many platinum silver wigs, the ranking of characters’ hair is a hotly debated topic. Time to discuss who wears it best.

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The problem with Westerosi wigs is they have to look indistinguishable from the actors’ natural hair (Sansa), or so outlandish the eye accepts it as “fantasy” (Daenerys). When one tries to make it look “normal” but not “real,” you get the worst of both worlds: Daemon Targaryen.

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Worse, platinum wigs wreak havoc on skin tone. It does one of two terrible things for most actors: giving the skin a sallow look or a red-faced one. As King Viserys, Paddy Considine is (not) rocking the “greenish sallow” look here. At least it fits with his character’s illness.

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Poor Sian Brooke, as Queen Aemma Arryn, trends the other way. The wig gives her the unflatteringly rosy-faced look. At least in these shots, they can be written off as “pregnancy glow.” As for her later, tattered wig, the result at least fits her waning health.

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Milly Alcock, as Young Rhaenyra, has the same rosy skin problem, but her issues are then compounded by attempts at making her hair look “natural” when the eye can tell it isn’t. It’s her most unflattering look and, unfortunately, the one she wears most often.

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At least Savannah Steyn’s first significant appearance as Laena Velaryon has some of the fanciful “obviously fantasy” going on with her hairdo. However, the wig itself is so large that it gets in its own way and becomes a hair-don’t.

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The coming time jump means passing the role of Rhaenyra to Emma D’Arcy. But, once again, the insistence on “simple,” unbelievable hair over “imaginative,” over-the-top does her no favors. (Also, D’Arcy falls on the sallow end of the spectrum instead of rosy, a jarring transition.)

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However, there are some great looks in Westeros as well. Olivia Cooke, who will take over the role of Lady Alicent Hightower after the time jump, has a great-looking wig here that recalls Lady Catelyn Stark. It helps that the shade of brown fits her look perfectly.

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Though Laena’s youthful look is a struggle, Steve Toussaint as her father, Lord Corlys Velaryon, actually lands on the natural-enough-to-be-believed, with his white blonde ‘locs reading more like dreads that have gone white with age and stress.

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Meanwhile, Laena’s coming glow-up in the next few episodes shows her evolving look will follow the route long established by Black celebrities like Beyoncé and Kelly in their Destiny’s Child days, stylized to the point that the eye simply accepts it.

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Of all the Targaryens, it’s ironic The Queen Who Never Was consistently sports the best hair. She is the only one genuinely following the Daenerys school of fantastical with a look so exotic and alien (and also suggesting ‘locs without actually having them) that it works.

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The tragedy of both the earlier Rhaenyra looks is that when the show does allow her to go for the over-the-top implausible hairdos, she looks great. This look (where she’s dancing with Laenor) is even accented with red stones that make her over-rosy skin look deliberate.

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But the top looks are saved for the leading ladies as each reaches the pinnacle of success. Emily Carey, as Young Alicent, already sports a wig that looks realistic enough to pass as her real hair. As Viserys’ chosen second wife, this look is an achievement fit for a crown.

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As for Rhaenyra, her first day as her father’s heir is one of the few times the show lets her hair reach the crowning glory of her eventual descendant, Daenerys, and it’s as fancifully regal as anything the Mother of Dragons ever wore.

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House of the Dragon Season 1 continues with new episodes every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.

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