‘Bridgerton’: Season 1 Had Over 5,000 Costumes
For fans of period dramas, the 2020 launch of Netflix’s sexy new show Bridgerton was a dream come true and a veritable feast for the eyes. Based on the historical romance novels by Julia Quinn, Bridgerton introduces viewers to a candy-colored interpretation of 19th-century London that makes other period pieces look drab in comparison.
Season one boasts a truly prodigious display of costumes—both refined and flamboyant—that helped bring the regency-era television drama to life. Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick is the genius behind Bridgerton’s extensive wardrobe as well as many other movies, including The Greatest Showman (2017) and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019).
When interviewed by Vogue, Mirojnick revealed more about the costume-making process and the inspiration behind the show’s fabulous fashions.
It took five months to create almost 7,500 individual costume pieces
Bridgerton’s story focuses on London’s elite families and, as such, demands an ostentatious array of garments. Mirojnick describes every character as:
“dripping in jewels, feathers, and finery, hellbent on outshining one another. There are silk gowns rendered in ice-cream pastels, acid-bright florals, acres of ruffles, rhinestone-encrusted puff sleeves and wigs that could rival Marie Antoinette’s.”
That kind of wardrobe doesn’t just happen overnight. Season one of Bridgerton employed a costume team of 238 people working tirelessly to create an estimated 7,500 pieces over the course of five months.
Mirojnick elaborates on the process, explaining,
“… this is inclusive of the pattern cutters, the extraordinary Mr. Pearl who was our corset maker, a tailoring department, an embellishing department, embroiderers and my co-captain John Glaser, among others.”
Over 5,000 costumes were ultimately prepared before shooting even began. Phoebe Dynevor alone, who plays the season’s diamond Daphne Bridgerton, was outfitted for 104 costumes on camera. “That’s a big number,” the designer confides, “even for a principal player.”
It’s hard to say whether a real debutante in the early 1800s would require so many gowns in a single season, but it certainly illustrates the wealth and grandeur of the times.
‘Bridgerton’ favors ‘sexy’ over ‘historically accurate’ costuming
When Bridgerton first launched, it was immediately obvious that this was not going to be the typical Austen-esque adaptation. The designers wanted to focus on ways to shift the aesthetics of the period drama to make it feel more modern and scandalous.
“This show is sexy, fun, and far more accessible than your average restrained period drama,” says Mirojnick. “We paid a lot of attention to the scooped necklines and how they fit the bust… When you go into a close-up, there’s so much skin. It exudes beauty.”
Bridgerton’s costumes are not 100% historically accurate but rather aspirational. Color palettes and fabrications had to be adjusted, and much inspiration was drawn from the 1950s and 1960s—specifically from the designs of Christian Dior. By using organza or tulle, the costumers experimented with creating multi-layered dresses that afforded more movement and fluidity.
Color palettes helped to play an important role in ‘Bridgerton’ storytelling
It’s no secret that costume directors use color to emphasize certain elements of their narratives, and Bridgerton masterfully chooses color palettes that distinguish different characters and their families. The prominent, old-money Bridgertons are generally dressed in powdery pale blues, silvers, and greens that “feel like whispers of color.”
Gradually, Daphne’s wardrobe shifts into richer pinks and blues and deeper silvers as she matures into her married life and her role as duchess.
By contrast, the neighboring Featheringtons, who come from new money, are decked out much bolder and brighter colors. It’s a choice specifically designed to illustrate their brazen attributes and questionable fortunes. Everything they wear is overly embellished, glaringly citrus, and downright garish.
These types of visual cues are also used in season two of Bridgerton when the Sharma sisters are introduced. Prickly elder sister Kate, played by Simone Ashley, and the season’s diamond Miss Edwina, played by Charithra Chandran, are cunningly draped in stunning jewel tones that give a nod to their Indian heritage.
It seems the 5,000 costumes created for season one were only the beginning. With Bridgerton already approved for seasons three and four, we can be sure to expect its Emmy award-nominated stylists and hardworking costume team will wow us with even more sumptuous outfits and show-stopping designs.