Image credit: PureWow
We take a look inside Shondaland’s debut Netflix series, Bridgerton, and find out all we need to know about its extraordinary production. The series exudes creativity and innovation with an entirely fresh outlook on romantic period dramas. Despite visually maintaining the foundation of 1813 Regency England, creator Chris Van Dusen steered clear from the exactness of the period. From the impressively unconventional casting to the exceptional fashion and costume design, it all brought the series to life with a much-desired modern twist!
Bridgerton is based on the novels by Julia Quinn, and it follows the story of Daphne Bridgerton, who’s hoping to find a match sparked by true love in London’s competitive marriage market. Upon coming to terms with the unlikelihood of such fate, The Duke of Hastings, an old school friend of her brother’s, returns to England. In an attempt to help find Daphne a respectable man, and remain a bachelor and “catch of the season” himself, the rebellious Duke makes a fake arrangement with Daphne. Soon enough sparks fly, and the couple find themselves caught in their own personal battles with feelings and society’s expectations for their future.
In an attempt to seize the attention of modern-day viewers and create an eccentric and intricate feel to a bygone era, Shondaland and Dusen team up with costume designer Ellen Mirojnick, who could not be a better match for their overall vision. A whopping 7,500 pieces were created for the first season of the series. The number refers to individual items rather than full outfits. That being said, the challenge wasn’t in the number of actors but the depth of the story. In the regency era of the 1810s, women would change their outfits often and would have wardrobes filled with outfits for every occasion, morning until evening.
In only eight episodes, there are ten balls, which require many special gowns, tiaras, jewellery, and tailcoats. A warehouse of diverse wardrobes was created to tailor to principal actors as well as background characters. Pastel-coloured and delicately embroidered empire waist dresses, long evening gowns dripping in jewels, lace numbers with sheer puff sleeves, ribbon details, capes, royal adornments, undergarments, all exaggerated to perfection without losing sight of the original fashion. “I’m in a different outfit every scene basically,” says Phoebe Dynevor, aka Daphne Bridgerton. “We counted, I have 104 dresses, which is just madness!”
Mirojnick’s team hired five cutters and two tailors to create patterns and construct costumes for the leading roles alone! “It has definitely offered a great challenge, and it has definitely offered a great delight at the same time,” says Mirojnick, “the size of the show is mammoth, it was daunting when we looked at it, but I’m very proud to say that this team is like no other and it has risen so far above any expectation. The bar is so high.”
The show exceeds even further expectation with the introduction of a diverse and relatable cast as primary characters and in roles of nobility. Completely defying the historical whitewashing of periodical era features; here, we have an ethnically diverse cast representing the past, present, and future, without reserve.
The entire concept behind Bridgerton allowed for an unconventional approach to every aspect of the production process, and the storyline does not fail to impress in the same unconventional manner. Truly a whole-hearted adventure, waiting to reflect on the viewers’ senses!
Bridgerton aired on the 25th of December on Netflix, and is adapted from the first of Quinn’s books The Duke and I. You can stream here.