By Jill Brooke
Flower lovers, are you watching Netflix’s “Bridgerton?”
I literally binged on the whole eight episodes and especially loved the costumes that have such beautiful floral flourishes in bright sunny colors, all designed by award-winning Ellen Mirojnick, who told us, “flowers are a romantic element I can’t resist.”
Based on the romantic series by Julia Quinn, “Bridgerton” is created by Chris Van Dusen and produced by Shonda Rhimes, who spared no expense or lavish detail to make the production swoon-worthy.
In fact, one of the triumphs of this series is how the team created the British Royal Court circa 1813 as a multi-cultural garden of delights and intrigue where love and secrets bloom along with frothy dialogue, well-timed zingers and bodice-ripping sex appeal.
The series centers around Daphne Bridgerton, the eldest daughter of the influential Bridgerton family as she debuts onto Regency London’s competitive marriage market. Also featured are the Featheringtons who are striving to raise their rank in society. A subplot is finding the identity of the mysterious gossip columnist Lady Whistledown.
When asked whose clothes were the most fun to create, Mirojnick doesn’t need a lot of time to ponder.
“Phillipa Featherington,” one of the sad-sack daughters of the wannabe Featheringtons.
“A lot of the dresses we did for Phillipa Featherington were over flowered,” says Mirojnick. “There was an audaciousness about using oversized flowers that fit her character. I love all her dresses that have that element, besides being audacious they have a fashion-forward feel.”
One of her favorites is this lavender dress in the above photograph that “has trapped flowers within the two layers of organdy.”
I also loved Portia Featherington’s dresses because she was so brazen but sympathetic. The way she sashayed into a garden wearing this chartreuse silk dress lavished with purple blooms or this bold brocaded dress revealed a whiff of desperation as well as ambition and pride.
In fact, all of the Featherington women’s clothes are “ over-flowered” to show how this family didn’t quite fit in high society.
To make her point of class distinctions, the floral flourishes on the Bridgerton ladies are more subtle and refined.
Since one of the sumptuous set designs by Gina Cromwell, Kimberley Fahey and Laura Conway-Gordon was modeled after Princess Diana’s ancestral home called Althorp, we so appreciated how one of Daphne’s dresses were in a shade of robin’s egg blue. Blue was Princess Diana’s favorite color.
For other ladies of the court, flowers are subtlety sewn into lace designs or hair accessories such as with Lady Danbury, who was the best friend of the Duke of Hastings’ mother.
The dreamy multi-layered details are what stand out with Mirojnik’s masterpiece here. And this is a masterpiece.
“I created floral motifs through embroidery, layering fabrics or Swarovski crystals,” she says. “Some were magnificent oversized prints as if they were hand-painted — others were embellished, always making the overall larger than life floral motif prominent.”
Was it hard to create different distinctive styles for each character? After all, she created 7500 pieces in just five months.
“Once you create a character and what defines them, it isn’t difficult to follow through with all creations,” she says.
But of course, with Mirojnik, it is intuitive.
Studying at the Parsons School of Design, her fashions had sophisticated timeliness that caught the attention of the world’s most sought after directors including Steven Soderbergh, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Paul Verhoven, Tony and Ridley Scott, Kathryn Bigelow and J.J. Abrams.
“The use of flowers in design is totally organic,” she says. “I can’t say why except that it felt right and always added that special touch. I loved all the dresses that had floral motifs.”
Merle Ginsberg, Writer at Large for Los Angeles Magazine, believes that these exquisite designs – “where the women actually look like they’re wearing flowers” – will inspire other fashion designers in the coming months.
“Bridgerton is the perfect entertainment for the long winter of our Covid miscontent,” says Ginsberg. “Whereas ‘Downton Abbey’ was a classy soap opera with great fashion – set in a period almost 100 years after ‘Bridgerton’ – it was so much more somber – and the clothes were often done in dark solids. Bridgeton’s costumes by the great Ellen Mirojnick are in candy colors.
“When the current Covid era morphs into the post-Covid era, hopefully, designers will still be in thrall to the ‘Bridgeron’s’ fairytale frills and use it as inspiration for the new Renaissance. You know – when the roaring twenties refer to the 2020’s.”
We certainly hope so. Because when you look at the world through flowers – and also wear floral designs – the world is brighter and happier.
In fact, maybe Mirojnik should get an award for making us want to get dressed up again.
Vogue contributing editor and author Carol Woolton also sees a trend being launched for colorful jewelry and hair accessories as a result of the series.
“We’ve been neglecting jewelry possibilities in the hair for too long,’ she says. “It’s an easy way to make a whole new look. In the show, it’s all about prettiness and tiaras, but using a mix of modern and vintage you can give it your own edge.”
In fact, Mirojnik hopes so too. “I do think the beauty of flowers in the hair in new ways will definitely be seen in the coming days,” she says.
As for her next project, it will be “Cinderella” a musical fairy tale with Camila Cabello, and yes, expect some flowers to also bloom in those designs too. We all can’t wait.
Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD.
Photo Credit: Liam Daniel/Netflix