Officially dubbed as Netflix’s biggest series ever, Bridgerton has taken the world by storm. A whimsical, stylish romance set in the Regency period, Bridgerton’s steamy storylines, lush world, and gorgeous costume have captured the imaginations of millions. Aside from its quirky tales of love and gossip in 1800s England, the costumes of Bridgerton are its most standout aspects. A spectacle unlike anything else out right now, the look of Bridgerton inspired viewers quarantined at home, most confined to pajamas and craving fabulous parties with beautiful attire.
Head designer Ellen Mirojnick and designer John W. Glaser III combined forces on a massive project. Both Shondaland veterans and frequent collaborators, Mirojnick and Glaser have created something that has made a splash in not only the pop culture landscape, but also on the fashion and beauty world.
Ellen Mirojnick is a renowned designer, with major blockbusters under her belt. She served as Costume Designer on Maleficent: Mistress of All Evil, The Greatest Showman, Logan Lucky, The Chronicles of Riddick, and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, just to name a few. She won the Emmy for Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or Special for Behind the Candelabra. In 1998, she was nominated for Costume Design for Variety or Music Program for Cinderella.
With a decades-long career in television, John Glaser was the costume designer behind shows such as Gotham, Person of Interest, and Brotherhood.
For this interview, AwardsWatch was able to speak with both Mirojnick and Glaser about their work on the smash hit Bridgerton.
Adriana Gomez-Weston: The look of Bridgerton has swept the fashion world. What has it been like for you seeing the impact of your designs?
Ellen Mirojnick: When this came about, even a couple of months later, and you turn around, and everything has become Bridgerton. It’s crazy. The influence of fashion, the influence of accessories, the influencing color palettes, the influence and how you look at something or how you look at romance. Actually, how young girls look at period inspired clothing that gives them a feeling of another time, another fantasy or romance. And yet it feels modern, and they feel cool and hip and so on. It’s pretty staggering, but it’s pretty fabulous. At the same time, making that dent and having that overlay in in our culture I mean.
AGW: How did you two collaborate during the design process?
John Glaser: Ellen is the overseer of everything, and she brought me in. And I always say that Ellen always gives me an abstract idea of what she’s thinking about. And then I take that abstract idea and find legitimate research to go along with it. In this case we looked at the 1813 period, and then we looked at what inspired that period and what 1813 inspired in the modern world and blended that all together. There’s other desires.
EM: Basically, we start from, you know Johnny and I have worked together for many, many years, so we have a shorthand which is excellent, and we can actually riff off each other pretty easily. So, knowing that it was 1813 and knowing that it was for Shondaland, who we’ve worked for before, there is a particular kind of fantasy, glamour, lusciousness and aspiration that always goes along with our hopeful end result, and in this case, it had to do with the Regency period. What we looked at before we could do anything is, as Johnny had said to do the research and finding the actuality of the period, the finite actuality of the period is the first step that we used to be able to abstract and then create what the world of Bridgeton was to become.
But it was only from that actual understanding of what really exists that we could jump off from that foundation.
AGW: So the Queen has her up like on her own is a pretty great personal look at as far as the design. There is obviously the real Queen Charlotte, so how much did you look towards her?
JG: Queen Charlotte is actually a real character, and she based her clothing on an earlier period. She did wear some Regency style clothes, but we kept her in the earlier period to pull her out from the rest of the town. What also makes her look more modern is the hair. The hair styles are pretty extreme, and they match her clothes.
EM: Queen Charlotte is the one person that really is based on fact in the in the respect of when she took the throne. The clothing that she wears, the costumes that she wears in Bridgerton actually are of the same period. She never changed from the time that she took the throne. She never changed her silhouette. We exaggerated her color combinations and of course exaggerated the degree of hair design.
But we wanted so very much to make Queen Charlotte become a character that you would remember. That was not somebody who was just the Queen at that time, and that she had a full agenda and that she had a very strong independent persona.
For that time, as a directress of how the Ton season was actually going to unfold, so it was it was great research to see what she did, what we could extract. And then eventually she did change her silhouette, but it wasn’t till years later. But at the moment it wasn’t it. That particular silhouette was not a made-up fantasy of our own. We simply used the foundation and designer that.
JG: That comes from portraits and all the research, but in actuality Queen Charlotte tried to combine the Regency look with her look. It was disastrous. It was very ugly, and you see it in a few places, but you only see it on her ladies in waiting. We avoided that look completely.
AGW: Can you talk about creating looks for the different families, like the Bridgertons, the Featheringtons, the Calpers, and creating their own individual personalities through what they wear?
EM: We have the Bridgertons of course, and they are the regalness of our show. They’re elegant and they are old money. They sit at the top of the Ton. I would say they’re restrained. They’re elegant and restrained. We chose a color palette that was very soft, restricted, and very sophisticated, but in a quiet way so. We actually use the pallets of French macaroons. They were our example of what that world would look like. The carved filigrees were always in. We use all of those little accents to inspire us to create that family.
The Featheringtons are the opposite. They are new money. They do not have the education nor the prominence in society. They are the new kids on the block if you will and they are very audacious. And in that audaciousness, their color palette was always written as and this specific color palette. We took the lead from that and used that of course, throughout creating that world. A world that is over embellished, is over gilded, overdone. But we loved that world, to be honest. It was somewhat of a Versace-esque kind of world by comparison to the quiet restraint of the Bridgertons.
The Calpers, well they are women who are on a mission. So their mission needs to look as beautiful, decorated perfectly, and attractive, and not bigger than life… The Featheringtons could be bigger than life.
JG: They were blend between the Bridgertons and the Featheringtons. They were overdone, but their colors were softer. They were layered, layered and layered and layered so that it wasn’t garish. It was just luxurious and overdone, and entertwined. Even their clothing and their hair was intertwined. You know, the hair had braids. The fabrics had embroidery with little feathers and stones. That was all just layers and layers of layers. They were putting on as much as they possibly could without being garish.
AGW: So, for both of you, I saw you’ve worked on very large-scale projects, but I know nothing as huge as this. I saw there over 4500 different costumes. How did your previous work help prepare you? With the upcoming second season, what are you hoping to do? And do you feel better prepared for that?
EM: I think that you know this was the biggest project. As you have noted, rightfully so, that was what we set out to do. It is certainly the biggest challenge and the most elaborate. What was so great about it was that we were able to not only create this world design at everything about it. But we were able to create this costume house that actually held all of this together, which I’ve done some pretty large projects, so it’s gone, and I know others have as well, but I don’t really recall anything that anyone has had to do that kind of equals this scale, so the challenge was breathtaking and fun.
I don’t know how many times you get the liberty to create a world that just takes you someplace else. That was exhilarating, and for the seasons to follow, each season will have a different tone, and each season will have more as the stories unfold, will become a, you know, a feast. Bridgerton will always be a feast and a feast of story. A feast of characters and a feast to look at. It’s been an amazing adventure.
Season one of Bridgerton is currently available to stream on Netflix. Ellen Mirojnick and John W. Glaser III are eligible in the category of Outstanding Period Costumes.
Photos: Liam Daniel, Nick Briggs/Netflix