Ballgowns and binge-watching: an ode to Bridgerton’s costume

Since its release on Netflix in December, Bridgerton has captured the attention of a staggering 82 million viewers. The show’s costuming enthrals the watcher in a candy-coloured world of feather, tulle and sequin. Despite its period setting, the fashion of Bridgerton could not be more 2021 in its appeal. Ellen Mirojnick – Emmy winning costume designer whose previous work includes Fatal Attraction and The Greatest Showman – creates a world of flamboyant fashion which oozes with modernity and scandal. The statistics behind Bridgerton’s fashion are astonishing. Working with a team of 238 people, Mirojnick created an estimated 5,000 costumes – with heroine Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) alone wearing 104 gowns across just 8 episodes.

What’s striking about Bridgerton’s costuming is its originality and innovation. Every item of clothing and accessory was made entirely from scratch under Mirojnick’s vision of modernity and luxury. The show’s team create a sumptuous world of bespoke fashion which goes against everything you’d expect from Regency style. Mirojnick created a one-of-a-kind wardrobe for a show which is anything but your classic period drama.

Phoebe Dynevor as Daphne Bridgerton in Bridgerton. Credit: Netflix via Marie Claire

Despite taking influence from fashions of the Regency period, both bonnets and muslin dresses were banned from set. Bridgerton’s wardrobe was to be structured and eye-catching rather than limp and modest like that of so many period dramas. The show’s strong feminist sensibility which is present in both the plot, casting and soundtrack perhaps also has something to do with its wardrobe. The ladies of ‘the Ton’ wear intricate head pieces and flowing gowns with open necklines which are expressive of their character, rather than bonnets and muslins which would shield the women beneath them.

In an interview with Vogue Mirojnick spoke of her desire to create ‘a new sense of movement and fluidity’ in her ballgowns. Even corsets are used to combat the image of restrained female fashion; instead they exude beauty and play into the show’s sexiness. The strength and individuality of Bridgerton’s women is reflected in their clothing. The eponymous Bridgerton family is characterised by a pastel colour palette. Eldest daughter and leading lady Daphne’s journey from debutant doll to wife, mother and defiant woman is charted by a transition from light, whimsical colours to duskier, stronger hues. The outrageous Featherington family’s colour palette is citrus, gaudy and eye-catching. This embodies the ridiculousness of matriarch Lady Featherington (Polly Walker) and the strength of her youngest daughter Penelope (Nicola Coughlan). 

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton. Credit: Netflix via Marie Claire

So how can the fashions of Bridgerton be related to those of 2021? Strong women are crucial to the plot, the show’s women are intelligent and motivated – whether that be to obtain their perfect love-match as Daphne strives to, or expose the identity of Lady Whistledown which Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) takes on as a personal mission. The show features a diverse range of women, honest conversation about female sexual pleasure and classical covers of songs by leading women in modern music including Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift. Like its plot the show’s wardrobe was also influenced by modern muses. Mirojnick’s main goal was to introduce a colour palette which screamed modernity and fun into Regency style. She drew heavily on Dior’s ‘New Look’ (1947) and subsequent collections of the ‘50s and ‘60s, recently immortalised by The V&A’s exhibition: ‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’. There certainly is something dream like about the frothy ballgowns and lively looks of the Ton.

Whilst wearing floor-length gowns may not be a plausible way to incorporate the stylishness of Bridgerton into your own wardrobe, there are certainly references to its colours and sensibility in recent trends. Corsets are back in a big way. Wear them over floating dresses or silky slips for a look which nods to the ethereal innocence of the Regency period, like poet and Instagram it-girl Saoirse Alicia Behzadi, or with baggy jeans and candy-coloured hair, like Youtuber Olivia Neill, to adapt the corset to the trends of the 2020s. On the runway Dior’s AW21 collection is filled with tulle and florals, whilst Giambattista Valli incorporates pretty pastels, oversized bows and floating fabrics. After binge-watching Bridgerton’s first series and drinking in all of its beautiful fashion, one thing’s for sure: we can’t wait to see the wardrobe of season two.

Header image: Netflix via Entertainment Tonight