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  • Carolyn Twersky

Getting Ready With ‘House of the Dragon’ Star Emily Carey for Fendi

As Kim Jones’s Fendi spring 2023 ready-to-wear collection walked down the runway in Milan on Wednesday, Emily Carey sat front row, taking pictures of her favorite pieces. She did it for Instagram content, and because “that’s what you do,” as she explained—but also to later show her stylists, Zadrian and Sarah, her favorite looks for future red carpet appearances. It seems like a normal thing for a young actor to do, but for Carey, the star of the new Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon, the experience was completely foreign. “I keep having to pinch myself. I can’t believe I’m in Milan right now,” Carey told W over the phone following the presentation. In just a few months, the 19-year-old went from being a relatively unknown actor and feeling completely removed from the fashion world to starring on HBO’s most-watched show of all time—and, soon after, getting a front row seat at Fendi.

Carey’s exploration of fashion is just getting started. Growing up, the actor says she didn’t have access to luxury brands. “I was never into fashion because I wasn’t able to be,” she said. But once the fashion gates opened themselves up to Carey, the actor immediately proved to be worthy. Three premiere looks for Dragon provided her with three successes, including a red take on a Fendi spring 2022 couture gown that, with a structured jacket atop a more romantic high-low skirt, perfectly encapsulated Carey’s aesthetic. “I don’t like anything incredibly feminine,” she said. “And if it is feminine, I like to add a little edge to it.” When it came to dressing for the Milan show, Carey gravitated toward an ensemble straight from the brand’s resort 2023 collection, simply because it was a bit different.

“It’s a mash up between two different things,” she said. “You’ve got this chiffon dress, but then the huge jumper on top, which makes the dress lose its feminine shape, which I find quite appealing.” Of course, Carey was also drawn to the bright colors of the look, the socks with an attached Fendi Baguette, and the shoes—she especially loved the shoes. “I want to steal them. I won’t, I’m not going to steal them, but I’m very close to stealing them.”

Carey’s trip to Milan comes just days after her final episode of Dragon aired on HBO. Next week, the storyline will jump forward ten years, and Sound of Metal star Olivia Cooke will take over the role of Alicent Hightower. Carey is sad to say goodbye, of course, but she’s refreshingly positive about the situation.

“It’s Olivia Cooke,” she said. “She is just a phenomenal actor and I’ve admired her for years and years.” Carey may have struggled to pass Alicent on to someone else, but sharing the character with Cooke makes it easier. “I cannot wait to see the Alicent she’s created, because it is almost like we’re playing two different characters.” And her assessment rings true: Carey’s Alicent was naive and moldable, a chess piece in everyone else’s game. It’s not until episode five of the series—right before we have to say goodbye to Carey—that Alicent finds her footing and realizes the power she holds as a queen. That all culminates in the wedding banquet scene in episode five, when Carey’s Alicent arrives fashionably late to the party, making a statement—and, in effect, declaring war—in an emerald green dress.

“I remember shooting that moment and being terrified,” Carey said. “It’s such a make-or-break moment. If this 10-second shot of me entering in the green dress doesn’t work, the Dance of the Dragons doesn’t work. It had to land.” Luckily it did, and Carey ended her run on Dragon triumphantly. In fact, she was surprised by how well the audience responded to her final scenes.

“I was expecting a lot of hate for Alicent because in the book, she is a villain,” she said. In actuality, however, many people have taken Alicent’s side and declared themselves “Team Green,” as Carey calls it, representing those who support Alicent and her son’s ascendency to the Iron Throne. “Some people are being steered in my direction, which has been fun and interesting to see. A lot of people unexpectedly are admiring that moment for the character.”

Whether fans will support Cooke’s Alicent is less clear. But at the moment, Carey is more focused on taking it slow now that her five-week run on Dragon has come to an end. “It’s been a crazy whirlwind,” she said. “Now, I’m just chilling and letting things happen.” She’s taking things in as they come, just like she did with the clothes that walked the Fendi runway. Her favorite part, by the way? The colors Jones used to bring his designs to life—particularly the bright green that popped up in handbags, shoes, and sweaters. She is a Hightower, after all.


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