If your favourite period drama comes with a perfect balance of domestic matters that could easily occupy the pages of a Jane Austen novel, Gossip Girl levels of juicy revelations and an essential modern update, then your favourite period drama just might be Bridgerton. Created by Shonda Rhimes, the highly addictive Netflix show had me lapping up the entirety of the first season in one day. So the fact that it’s still trending on the streamer might have something to do with either its endless rewatch value or new fans hopping onto the hype train. It certainly helps that the frames of each episode are populated with beautiful people dressed in beautiful period costumes to match. Starring Phoebe Dynevor as Daphne Bridgerton, a young girl who makes her debut in society entering the marriage market and attracting a slew of suitors, and Regé-Jean Page as the sexy Duke Simon Basset, a regular Byronic hero, the show explores relationships in the “polite society” of 1800s London.
Rife with drool-worthy Regency-era costumes, string versions of our favourite pop songs and multiple scandals, Bridgerton had to be the culmination of tonnes of research, an army of artists behind the scenes, particularly for crafting the sartorial world. But if anyone could get it done (roughly 7,500 pieces), it had to be Ellen Mirojnick. The award-winning costume designer who is best known for The Greatest Showman, Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil, even Basic Instinct took on the mammoth task of fleshing out the Shondaland show’s world.
“I loved everything,” Mirojnick said, unable to pick a favourite gown out of the many gorgeous dresses, in a quick Q & A interaction about Regency-era fashion with a modern edge, dressing Daphne Bridgerton and more. Talking about parts of the show she was most excited to work on, the designer said, “I looked forward to creating the overall concept, and the challenge of actualizing it”
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With a scale of production this grand and an ensemble cast of many characters including the Featheringtons who decidedly dressed very differently from the Bridgertons or any family in from the ton for that matter, research was key when it came to crafting historically accurate looks. The effort, however, wasn’t to simply recreate period costumes. “The research we do is usually based on paintings of the period. We read and learn all that is necessary to form a solid foundation.” said Ellen while adding, “We designed the show with an aspirational and modern twist approach. Everything is designed based on Chris Van Dusen’s glorious text,”. Rhimes and show creator Dusen pretty much coloured in racial inclusiveness including a Black Duke, Queen Charlotte and more (it was about time!) into a period drama bringing the much-needed relevance to the genre. “Working with Shonda Rhimes is always exciting. Her aesthetic is of aspiration and freshness, and the design is what modern audiences will relate to.”
Bridgerton’s script did more than just give serve a spicy drama to watch, it gave us some intriguing characters. According to Mirojnick, “All of the characters were a dream to design for.” Talking about Daphne’s specific character development and by extension, wardrobe evolution, she said, “Daphne’s costume began with the most powdery blue dress, suggesting her innocence. As she evolves and matures as the duchess, we deepen her colour palette to richer and duskier tones.”
Creating all those stunning costumes was evidently not the easiest task, it was quite the challenge behind the scenes. “Creating the world of Bridgerton presented logistics that we don’t normally experience. It was enormous and at times overwhelming, but as we began to move forward everything eased up and when our first shipment arrived we knew we were on the right track,” said Ellen describing her days on set as “busy and bustling”.
Even with credits as impressive as hers, Mirojnick admits that Bridgerton was her largest show. She explained, “I’ve done many different types of projects and each had its own set of demands. Bridgerton was the largest show I’ve done, but fortunately, I had an amazing costume team, many whom I have worked with before. I have a great co-Capitan in John Glaser and amazing costume supervisors Kenny Crouch and Sanaz Missaghian.”
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Bridgerton is currently streaming on Netflix.
Cover artwork: Bhavya Poonia/Mashable India
Image credits: Netflix