If you haven’t binge-watched Bridgerton, the new period drama from Shonda Rhimes currently streaming on Netflix, what are you waiting for? The show has everything you could want from a Rhimes show. There’s scandal, romance, and some absolutely stunning costumes.
Creating costumes for a story set in 1813 England is no easy feat. The show captures the lavish lifestyles of the upper classes of the era and doesn’t skimp on the details. Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick, who has worked on other big productions like The Greatest Showman and Maleficient: Mistress of Evil, (per IMDb) opened up to Harper’s Bazaar what it was like working on the costumes for Bridgerton.
Bridgerton has a large ensemble cast, but that wasn’t the only hurdle Mirojnick and the design team faced. Over the eight episodes of the show there are ten balls, which means a lot of gowns and tailcoats had to be designed — and then there are the accessories to go with them. “And although we have fictionalized the Regency period, 1813, there’s still there basic truth,” said Mirojnic. “Meaning the girls changed their clothes a lot. They wore a different dress to every ball, aside from the amount of dresses that would take place from morning ’til dinner. So we knew just roughly that this was going to be a large, large endeavor.”
Bridgerton required thousands of costume pieces
Just how many costumes were required for Bridgerton? A lot. “Basically, all together, inclusive of our principal wardrobe, there were costume pieces equaling 7,500,” said Mirojnick. While that number includes different elements of outfits, such as accessories and outerwear, it’s still a massive number. The costume designer estimated that the principal characters alone required roughly a thousand pieces. The show’s central character, Daphne Bridgerton, had over one hundred costume changes, so it’s easy to see how quickly those costume pieces add up.
The team Mirojnick worked with for the main cast’s costumes required five cutters and two tailors to stay on top of everything. “Everything was basically bespoke, and so much hand-embroidery, beading, I mean, this was quite a glittery show,” she said.
Mirojnick has been designing costumes for decades but has never worked on such a large scale before. “I’ve been doing this a long time and I never [saw something] like this,” she said. “I guess it goes back to the days of Ben Hur and Cleopatra and those biblical epics, but now we’re in Regency England and the numbers are just as large.”
The costumes on Bridgerton aren't necessarily historically accurate
While the costumes on Bridgerton are breath-taking, they aren’t necessarily historically accurate. Mirojnick and her team did design Regency-era clothing, but it was with a modern twist such as bright colors and lavish embellishments that would not have been typical of the era.
This was very much a deliberate choice, with Mirojnick saying she wanted to build on the Regency look “with a bit of a modern sensibility, make it aspirational, intriguing, and with somewhat of a layer that would actually be very imaginative.”
Mirojnick continued, “If you open up a Harper’s BAZAAR magazine of December 150 years ago, or a hundred years ago, it would be dull, it would be faded, the pages could be yellowed, and it could be kind of tattered, right? But when you open up Harper’s BAZAAR today, it’s crisp, it’s clear, it’s hued, it’s either intense or pale or however the photographer feels about the subject that is being photographed. It’s rich and it’s of the moment and it’s clean, right? It’s the same thing of doing a Regency-infused show now, as opposed to replicating the exactness of the period.”
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