Netflix’s escapist Regency drama, Bridgerton, has it all: an enticing romance, an all-knowing gossip maven and sexy romanticism. But one thing that’s sure to stand out are the extravagant ballgowns and tailored suits that seasoned costume designer Ellen Mirojnick, who previously worked with Shondaland on the period drama Still Star-Crossed and the How to Get Away With Murder pilot, fittingly describes as “eye candy.” That meant taking a leap of faith when it came to the designs themselves, modernizing the period pieces with a bit of a modern eye.
“What we wanted to do was reinvent a particular way in which you look at the Regency period… because this isn’t historically correct, but it is an interpretation of the Regency period. And we wanted so much for it to be beautiful, aspirational and absolutely appealing to a modern audience,” Mirojnick told ET. The color palette Mirojnick utilized for Bridgerton shifted to “a more modern, saturated idea of color,” but the silhouettes remained true to the 1800s, during which the series — adapted from Julia Quinn’s popular novels — is set.
All told, Mirojnick estimates she and the Bridgerton team designed 7,500 separate pieces, which equated to about 6,300 full looks. For the principal characters in the ensemble, Mirojnik said about 1,000 pieces were designed specifically for them, while the remaining looks were for the background players and secondary characters. “It was massive,” she says of the large-scale production. “It is eye candy. Confection, confection, confection. Hopefully it makes you die for something, one thing onscreen. It is a confectionary tale.”
Mirojnick believes there’s been a dearth of romanticism and lustfulness in the world, especially during this time amid the pandemic, and a temporary escape into the aspirational, visually appealing Bridgerton is a welcomed change of pace. “All of us haven’t been accustomed to looking at that confection over this period of time. And I think our sensibility embraces it,” she said. “That was another time and, ‘Oh, it was all so luscious and it was so scrumptious. I don’t have to think about anything horrible today,’ you know? It takes you away into this story that we don’t live [in] and I think that that’s what we set out to do, to really take you to another world.”
ET asked Mirojnick to highlight a few of her favorite Bridgerton looks for the series’ main couple, Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon (Rege-Jean Page), and how they came to be.
“Phoebe came in and she was clearly the English rose. She was beautiful. She was delicate. She was very pristine and that informs so much when you’re designing. What was important for Daphne was to maintain that beauty, that rose-like quality, the simple elegance that no one else had — the pristineness of her elegance that needed to become that diamond that everyone saw. The basic approach to that was that Phoebe wore it really, really well. And Phoebe/Daphne was very clean. In her day dresses, in everything that she wore, the neckline was totally clean, the sleeves were clean. The whole silhouette was pristine. It was to the extreme of simplicity. If you noticed it, she hardly wore any accessories. She needed to be 100 percent unlike anyone else and you wanted to feel her beauty and that elegance more than anyone else.
“As much as I loved the simplicity of her dresses, I loved all of her ball dresses. The dress I wish you saw more of was the dress she gets married in, her wedding dress. It was absolutely sublime. The fabric was from France. It was an organdy that was jacquard with little silk buds, a design that ran through it that encircled her body and wound up through the length of the train. You don’t really see it, which I wish you did, because that was a beauty. All of them are beautiful, but that was the epitome of beauty for this English rose. It was just heavenly.
“I also love a dress she wears at the dinner scene. They’re at opposite ends of the table, once they’re married, and she wears a dusty lavender gown that winds up in the rain. But the cut of that particular gown is a hundred percent on point. It was absolutely perfect. The way the back brace was perfect, the way it just lift off of her body, that was beautiful. But I do really love her riding ensemble when she’s on the horses. It has a deep royal purple velvet collar. She just wears that simple silhouette in the most gorgeous, elegant way.”
“Simon is the ideal romantic leading man. But what we were going for underneath that heading is Simon comes sweeping into town. He’s traveled the world. He brings with him an independence of spirit and of choice unlike the other men in the series. Simon is very handsome. He has no restrictions to wear his shirt open, to wear a scarf inside of his shirt. His neck is bare. He wears his mother’s brooch on his waistcoat. He wears red and it’s a really deep, rich, sexy red. His palette is very, I would say, sophisticated. It’s black, red, gold, a bit of purple, a bit of metallic. But he is the romantic leading man who does wear a black shirt. He does wear a black scarf inside his neck.
“As his overall look, you can see this gorgeous man has swept into town. The duke is unlike anyone else. He is independent. He is of his own mind, of his own spirit. And certainly is the one to marry. But the overall approach was to not have Simon be like anybody else in the story. To have to set him apart in this world of convention aside from conception, but convention, and to keep him totally sensual at the same time. Yes, he wears deep red. It’s a very passionate color, but it gives you a little skin into who Simon is. And maybe it doesn’t tell you his secret, but it has a smoldering effect.
“There is something [he wears] that I do like a lot. We see it briefly. I like everything that he wears and I liked it because he looked a certain way — beautiful and elegant and appealing and has a deep, mysterious sensuality to him when he wears all of his pieces, meaning his jacket, his waistcoat, his shirt. I love that his shirt is open. I love that his collar is deeper than everybody else’s. I love that he always wears his boots. I love all of that, but what I also love is when he takes off his coat, his shirt is rolled up, as he does at the boxing arena. It is perfect.
“There’s a rawness to him that you feel is touchable and you want to touch him. It’s not the iciness or the porcelain quality to Daphne. You feel his raw tension. And I love the way that looks. There’s one scene later on in the series, he wears a particular robe at home over his naked body and it looks like a patchwork of a family crest. It’s red and gold and black. It feels to me that it is of a regal quality but he uses it with a dash of nonchalance. He throws it away. It’s a dash of nonchalance that makes it cool.”
Bridgerton is streaming now on Netflix. For more on the series, watch the video below.
‘Bridgerton’: Behind the Scenes of Shonda Rhimes' Sultry New 19th Century Drama
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