The end of 2020 brought a little surprise full of sparkle on our screens via Netflix’s latest costume drama, Bridgerton.
The show is a wonderful firework of colour and creativity. There has been real thought behind the concepts of the concepts and shapes used. For example, the story opens with the two main families the Bridgerton’s and the Featherington’s, these families are cleverly brought together in their clans with the colour that they wear and represents them. The Bridgerton’s have light pastel colours of blues, creams and lilacs often embellished with glitter/stones/sparkle. Whereas the Featherington’s opt for bright bold colours like yellows, oranges and pinks displayed in the form of loud floral patterns.
Here comes the history…
The costume designers have loosely based it on historical garments of the 1810s. The shape is correct with most of the garments falling from the underbust or the empireline. This period in fashion was light and elegant for women. The designers have also captured the essence of regency layering with an array of wonderful coats, pelisse and spencer jackets adored for a gentle stroll or a ride in the carriage. The other key feature, which is a personal favourite of mine and that is you can never have too much of the puddle-train (the long flow at the back) which graces the ground when a lady moves.
The show has depicted the queen in a fashion from the high Rococo period, with dresses that have the structure of corsets, panniers and large oversized wigs. This is a nod to the elaborate fashions of the bygone age of the late 18th century, but to the viewer spells out class and rank quite easily. This was done for the 2005 interpretation of Pride and Prejudice. Lady Catherine DuBurgh wore similar outfits to the queen in Bridgerton to show a class difference to the Bennet family.
The men’s frock coats pay a wonderful tribute to the very sexy silhouette that men sported in the early regency era with smaller waists and large shoulders emphasised. The fabric choices, again, compliment the cut perfectly with rich wools and velvets.
Just the one niggle
I only have one sticking point that I can’t get my head around, and that is Lady Featherington’s dresses. The cut of the dress is strange as the top half is fitted with darts and then flows at the back from the waist, not the empire line. I can only assume that the actress (Polly Walker) had some suggestion on what dress would fit her figure better? In my opinion it is the only odd one out.
To me a show like Bridgerton is more than the story, it is about the whole concept and I think Netflix have done wonders. Yes, not accurate in a fashion historian’s eye, but I have a feeling the popularisation of the silhouette for women will make a welcome return to the high street.
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