Bridgerton’s costume designer wanted to make the clothes easy to rip off

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I spent the weekend escaping and binging Netflix’s series,Bridgerton. Bridgerton is a scandalous Gossip Girl-y Jane Austen-esque show brought to us by Shondaland Media that is loaded with lots of steamy, bodice ripping, raunchy sex and a toxic AF 18th century love story. To read more about the show you can read my post here. Besides the plot and ridiculously frivolous characters that I love, and the cool reimagined pop songs into classical ballads, the show’s wardrobe was spectacular. The empire frocks were a kaleidoscope of candy-colored hues that are the dreams of any fashionista, despite those damn corsets.

Bridgerton’s costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick, who worked on Shonda Rhimes’ How To Get Away With Murder, is profiled in Town and Country. She discusses how her team spent five and a half months making 7500 costumes for principle characters and extras on set. She calls Shonda the inspiration behind the more colorful and modern update of 18th century high fashion. And those steamy, bodice ripping, raunchy sex scenes? She made them easier by creating clothing that was well, rip-offable. Below are a few excerpts on the inspiration behind the costumes that brought 18th century London to life:

A veteran of Shondaland (she previously worked Rhimes’s How to Get Away With Murder and Still Star-Crossed), Mirojnick shares that her process involved looking “at what was real, what was high fashion, and then, [thinking] ‘What would Shonda do?’”

“We’re not talking about 1813 and Jane Austen and beige, cream bonnets,” she says. They wanted to create something “fresh and young and aspirational,” and “the first way in which you create something new is shift the palette.”

For the old-money Bridgertons, that meant “soft, romantic” blues, whites, and pinks. And for their neighbors, the nouveau riche Featheringtons? “Spicy, vibrant, I-want-to-be-seen” shades, like orange, green, and purple.

But it was the character of Queen Charlotte (image up top), who Mirojnick thinks represents the “pinnacle” of the Bridgerton aesthetic. “Queen Charlotte never changed her silhouette from 18th century,” she explains—so they took that shape and played with the hue. “We made beautiful combinations of different fabrics, different colors,” Mirojnick says. But what really took the Queen’s look to the next level was her hair design. “Change her hair color, change the height, change the shape. Everything was embellished. It was sublime.”

But Mirojnick’s work went beyond just re-imagining 18th-century attire. She and her team had a few Bridgerton-specific challenges to deal with, too. Notably: how to get people out of their clothes as fast as possible.

“How easy can you get in the pants?” was a key question she had to address. “How easy can you lift up the skirt?” she says. “How easy does the top come off? How easy does the shoulder fall? And will it look sexy and alluring and rapturous?”

[From Town and Country]

I did my bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising and one of my favorite things about period dramas specifically is how the costume designers reimagine the eras. Bridgerton did not disappoint. Not only did I love most of the characters and their stories, the scenery and the costumes really captured my imagination. I could tell that each piece told the story of the character that wore it. The brightly colored dresses of the Featherington sisters emphasize that they stood out like sore thumbs in high society. The Featheringtons are the gauche nouveau riche sisters who wore clothes that struck a dissonant chord against the prim and sometimes bland palette of the blue bloods. The blues, ivories, and silvers that Daphne wore gave her more “prim” and proper character an ethereal and romantic quality. My absolute favorite was the Queen’s reimagined afro. That afro was lit and gave me life. Lady Danbury’s hats and cane also deserve honorable mentions.

Mirojnick did an excellent job in creating a third character in the series in the costumes. The colors made the city of London and those stuffy castles and mansions seem more inviting and exciting. I was having serious FOMO watching the characters interact. I wanted to be in the world that was created. I truly enjoyed everything about Bridgerton. Yes, there were quite a few questionable moments and Daphne and the Duke’s relationship was quite toxic and messy, but that messiness is what makes Bridgerton fun to watch. Even though I’d never wear a corset on purpose or an empire waisted dress or stockings (they’re itchy), the wardrobe on this show was chef’s kiss perfection. The fact that you can easily rip off the clothing in a fit of passion, well, that’s just the icing on the cake. Now, I am inspired to find one of those bodice ripping dresses for future cosplay.

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Photos credit: Liam Daniel/ Netflix © 2020

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35 Responses to “Bridgerton’s costume designer wanted to make the clothes easy to rip off”

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  1. Mac says:

    I attended an opening night screening of the final season of Downton Abbey and their was a panel afterwards with cast and members of the crew, including the costume designer. She said her vision was to create historically correct pieces that we would all want to wear.

  2. Seraphina says:

    The costumes for this series are delicious. It is like eye candy and they did a wonderful job. I started watching in the wrong mind frame, as history major, of being a historically accurate piece and it is not. And my favorite, Queen Charlotte. Golda Rosheuvel is wonderful and while she plays her with icy aloofness, we all know there is more there beneath the exterior. Well done.

  3. Eleonor says:

    I have started to binge watching it!

  4. Pamuk says:

    I loved the costumes so much, especially the bright featheringtons❤️

  5. Midnight@theOasis says:

    Oya, I agree. Those costumes were so colorful and fit each character. Lady Danbury and Queen Charlotte were my absolute favorites. More of them both please. Bridgerton was exactly what I needed to end such a dreadful year. Pure escapism and fantasy that requires me to willingly suspend my disbelief and just enjoy it for what it is. No critical thinking required.😄

    • Seraphina says:

      You captured it perfectly in how I see this series as well.

    • Edna says:

      Yes, exactly how I see this series. Too many people are overthinking it and just need to relax and enjoy the fantasy. Loved the costumes but my only quibble is why the Duke of Hastings was always wearing riding boots…even to the balls😂

      • Faithmobile says:

        I see the riding boots as symbol of his willingness to bolt if things get to complicated. I just finished the series, and am ready to dive back in. Hurray for Bridgerton posts! The costumes are epic!

    • (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

      Perfect assessment! I LOVED it. I am never one to watch something for “hidden meanings” (critical analysis was the bane of my college papers lol). But DAMN, those eyebrows on Lady D!! That tiny top hat perched *just*so* on her head… lol. It was always fun to see what design QC’s hair would take, even what color! When she narrowed her eyes…. watch out! 😄

      Every time I saw the Featherington girls, I always thought of the way the York sisters were portrayed in “The Windsors” lol. Couldn’t help it! The hair! The clothes, the oversized jewels (esp for daytime!) OMG!

      Gotta say, I didn’t call the end; it was a fun surprise.

      Only problem is, with shows like this, is it takes SO LONG for the next season to arrive, and ONLY 8-10 episodes!! Still, I am SO looking forward to the next season!!

      • LittlePenguin says:

        Lady Danbury is my favourite and her costuming is *chefs kiss*

        While it sucks that we likely won’t see season 2 until 2022, I would rather wait and have 8-10 episodes of gorgeous, well done tv than 22 episodes with half of them filler. The outdoor ball scenes were magical and I needed that escapism.

      • (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

        Def. 2022. They are not starting to film again until March.

        And while I agree (in theory) of the episodes, when it IS well done, I WANT MORE lol. It was SO much fun to watch, I just didn’t want it to end.

        If you haven’t watched “The Great” yet (with Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult) give it a try. Hysterical “take” on Catherine the Great.

    • CrazyHeCallsMe says:

      I live for Queen Charlotte’s wigs and Lady Danbury’s hats. Thoroughly enjoyed this mindless fluff of entertainment.

  6. LaUnicaAngelina says:

    Oooohhhhh I need to watch this when time permits. I’m in the middle of moving and transitioning services so limbo land is where I live now.

  7. MMC says:

    I don’t like it. I like my period dramas more true to the period, this is too much like CW and not Jane Austenesque enough for my liking. Too bright, too soapish ( I haven’t read the books so I don’t know if they ar elike that too).

  8. Ang says:

    All the talk of ranch sex turned me off watching it, but last night I binged three episodes and loved it. If those sex scenes seem shocking to some, well I guess that just makes me giggle. Pretty tame stuff, kissing and two male bare bums.

    • Brandy Alexander says:

      I also binged 3 episodes last night, and was wondering where all these saucy sex scenes are. Unless they come up later, they are not very notable to me. I am really enjoying what I’ve seen so far though. I love Jane Austen, but this fun take on that genre is proving to be so delightful to me.

      • Anners says:

        I wouldn’t call it raunchy, but episodes 5 & 6 (the one when Benedict attends the artist’s home party and Simon and Daphne’s honeymoon) have a lot more sex an nudity than the first few episodes. It isn’t bad, or very graphic, but I’d be uncomfortable watching it with my mum

    • Nic919 says:

      There is nothing in that series that wouldn’t be seen on regular British network tv. Even Game of Thrones was much racier than this.

      Maybe some thought this was a Jane Austen adaptation, I don’t know, but it would probably be PG 13 if it was rated as a movie.

  9. Jess says:

    I love this series and the costume design work is brilliant art. The whole show is just a feast for the eyes in every way.

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I watched the first episode this morning and am HOOKED! Also, I am SO excited to see Nicola Coughlan in another series. I’m a big fan of Derry Girls and she is a fun actress to watch!

  11. Sumodo1 says:

    “She calls Shonda the inspiration behind the more colorful and modern update of 18th century high fashion.”1812-1813 is when the show takes place. 19th century. Not 18th. I could go all stan on this if there’s a Season 2.

  12. Wog says:

    The costumes were great. But just to give Julia Quinn some credit here- in the books the Featheringtons clothes are a major point in all the books and a key element especially for Penelope’s story. Also Lady Danbury and her cane are my favorite in every book.

    I thought the costumes were great- actually one of the best interpretations from the books. Story line and character wise I just have to pretend they are two different things or it makes me nuts.

    I foolishly re read the books before watching and I would have enjoyed it more if they were vague memories.

    • D says:

      As a book reader, I think I’m going to have to rewatch and do the same, trying to pretend they are separate characters. I read somewhere, someone called the show evil fanfiction, so I’m going to have to think of it that way, as all the deviations felt so jarring. But I was really disappointed with the show. I would have loved it so much more, not knowing the books at all.

  13. Iamnotinstbarts says:

    THANK YOU. I can thoroughly dive into the show as soapy historically loose eye candy, but for the love of Regency bums, please be accurate when speaking about it. Every time I see 18th century in reference to the show I want to scream.

  14. Abby says:

    My husband and I started this series this week and it is JUST what I need right now. It’s like delicious macarons. I love how irreverent and fresh it feels in the framework of Jane Austen’s world. I hope the series continues!

  15. Noodle says:

    Based on all the glowing reports yesterday, I started watching last night at about 8. Very quickly it was 11. But I couldn’t sleep. My super boring existence has been given new life! I watched another, then another half before I passed out at 130am. My body woke me up at 430am, and the only thing I could think was “I have to watch the end of that one (the wedding episode)”. I did, and can’t go back to sleep. Now I have to work today because I have a Friday report deadline looming. Good Lord what has this show done to me??!!

  16. JV says:

    I got reaaaaalllly tired of seeing Daphne in pale blue dresses.

  17. Marigold says:

    I lived the blue dresses that Daphne wore. Blue is my favorite color.

  18. Gabyrana says:

    If you liked Bridgerton, I recommend you should watch Sanditon (Available on Masterpiece PBS). It has more subdued fashion looks but the characters and story are beautifully nuanced and the leads have such great chemistry!!! (Theo James and Rose Williams)

  19. CrazyHeCallsMe says:

    All the heaving bosoms. Amazing how much cleavage was allowed to show in this time period. LOL

  20. Thirtynine says:

    The fabrics and clothes were divine. Can’t believe they made 7500 costumes in 5 months- that’s incredible! All of the extras, the people on screen in the distance or for a few seconds, all gorgeously extravagant. Loved it.