- The first season of Netflix’s hit series “Bridgerton” is filled with lavish parties and balls.
- The characters wear their finest clothes and jewellery in every episode.
- Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick told Insider about the meaning behind each character’s jewellery.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Bridgerton.”
Set in 1800s London, the series follows its characters as they navigate romantic entanglements and the city’s hectic social scene, all while the shadowy Lady Whistledown distributes leaflets filled with the latest society gossip.
Viewers have particularly loved dissecting the elegant fashion on “Bridgerton,” which was filled with hidden meanings.
Ellen Mirojnick, the show’s costume designer, told Insider that the whole idea behind the show was to add an “aspirational approach” to the Regency era, a real period in history from 1811 to 1820 that saw wealthy, upper-class British families socialising for the approximately six months each “social season” lasted every year, attending dinner parties, concerts, and balls in London.
“The overall concept of the show was taking regency and adding a modern twist to it, and really colouring it to be a vibrant, fresh, and new approach to Regency,” Mirojnick said.
Because costume choices were so meaningful, we decided to speak with Mirojnick about the significance and hidden meaning in the eye-catching jewellery the characters are seen wearing in each episode.
Daphne, the first season’s protagonist, frequently wears a small diamond on a chain, which is reflective of her “elegant” and “refined” character, according to Mirojnick.
Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor, is the oldest daughter in the highly-esteemed Bridgerton family who makes her debut in London society in the first episode. The first half of the season is dedicated to her search for a husband, and the second half explores her rocky marriage to Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, played by Regé-Jean Page.
In a social season filled with fancy balls and dinner where dressing to impress is mandatory, Daphne is often wearing beautiful earrings, necklaces, and tiaras.
Mirojnick characterises Daphne’s style as “finite, refined, and simple” and calls Daphne a “complex” character who is innocent and not as worldly as she might initially come across.
“The size of pieces could never overwhelm her, she’s so delicate and so fine-boned,” Mirojnick told Insider. “It just dictated the smallest, most delicate of stones in her necklace if she was to wear something.”
If her personal style is defined by simplicity, the necklace that the prince gifts her is “the other extreme,” Mirojnick says. Daphne takes the necklace off in a dramatic scene.
Frederick, the Prince of Prussia, played by Freddie Stroma, joins the storyline as one of Daphne’s potential suitors. In the fourth episode, he gifts her a necklace with large diamonds before proposing marriage to her.
In a dramatic sequence, Daphne is seen leaving a ball midway through the prince’s proposal and taking the necklace off. We never see it again.
Insider reporter Monica Humphries previously wrote that Reddit users noticed the necklace’s disappearance from the plot and its removal is symbolic that the relationship doesn’t progress beyond that point.
“It has become clear that the necklace represented the prince himself, an extremely valuable gift that was tossed to the side for no other reason except it wasn’t the right fit for Daphne no matter the beauty,” Reddit user Society101 explained.
Even when she becomes a duchess, Daphne’s jewellery stays the same, which is a nod to her “precise” and “specific” style, according to Mirojnick.
After marrying the Duke, Daphne goes from being a sought-after debutante to a duchess, but with minimal changes to the jewellery she is seen wearing.
“All of her gowns, all of her pieces are so precisely designed and quite simple that just because she became the duchess, didn’t mean to us ‘ok, let’s bring out the family jewellery,'” Mirojnick told Insider.
Mirojnick felt it would be “bad storytelling” to have Daphne suddenly wear a lot of jewellery and that it “never felt organic.”
“For example, if she showed up with half of the family jewels in one of the scenes at the Hastings house, you’d think something was going to happen,” Mirojnick said. “Because she had come from being so simple, right? And it wasn’t good storytelling.”
On the other hand, the Featherington women constantly wear opulent jewellery, and it serves as a commentary on the busy social scene of the period.
“Those ladies dressed every single moment of the day, and they dressed that way because they didn’t know who was going to come calling,” Mirojnick said.
The Featherington family consisted of the matriarch, Portia, her husband Archibald, and their three daughters, Prudence, Philipa, and Penelope.
Humphries wrote that the “bright shades of yellow, pink, and green” of the Featheringtons’ wardrobe symbolized that they’re “outsiders” to the upper class.
But their jewellery, Mirojnick told Insider, “is not reflective of where they are in society, it is reflective of society [itself].”
Mirojnick called the Featheringtons’ jewellery and style “Versace-esque,” in a nod to the famed Italian fashion label known for its bold patterns and bright colours.
Mirojnick said the family was “over-embellished” but had a “fashionable edge” in their looks.
The youngest Featherington daughter, Penelope, is often seen wearing jewellery shaped like flowers and butterflies to symbolise her young age compared to those around her.
Penelope, played by Nicola Coughlan, is supposed to be only 17 years old on the show.
According to Mirojnick, they wanted to keep the element of “being fresh” and young more apparent in her jewellery than her sisters’. They didn’t want to over embellish her and keep her pieces “light.”
“We used enamel jewellery, and all of the enamel jewellery is either flowers or butterflies. We have little pieces of that in her hair as well,” Mirojnick said.
Penelope might be young, but she’s also a complex character. Mirojnick told Insider that they gave her understated jewellery that wouldn’t distract from her expressions.
“Everything is very quiet in comparison to her sisters,” Mirojnick said while describing the jewellery Penelope is seen wearing on the show.
The viewers see many different sides of Penelope – with her best friend, Eloise, played by Claudia Jessie, with her boisterous and overbearing family, with the object of her affection, Colin, played by Luke Newton, and briefly, as Lady Whistledown.
Eloise Bridgerton’s noticeable lack of jewellery is an extension of her very vocal impatience for London society and the marriage market.
Penelope’s best friend, Eloise, is a Bridgerton but, unlike Daphne, she often wears a fancy cravat instead of a necklace.
While having a conversation with Penelope in episode 4 about marriage prospects, Eloise remarks, “why must our only options be to squawk and settle or to never leave the nest? What if I want to fly?”
“She would not be one to wear jewellery,” Mirojnick said.
Instead, she wears well-tailored, slightly short dresses and soft cravats around her neck.
On the rare occasion that Eloise does wear jewellery, Mirojnick said, she’s either wearing family jewels or Daphne’s hand-me-downs.
Viewers see Eloise wearing jewellery for the first time in episode seven, which is the penultimate episode of the season.
She’s seen attending a performance with her family, but she is on a secret mission – to find a way to gain an audience with Queen Charlotte so she can share her latest discoveries in unmasking the secretive Lady Whistledown’s identity.
Marina Thompson, a distant relative and guest of the Featherington family, is seen wearing a simple pendant with a central stone, or “eye,” which hints at her absentee lover.
Marina, played by Ruby Barker, comes to stay with the Featherington family during the start of the social season and quickly attracts many suitors.
However, viewers soon find out that she’s pregnant and her lover is away fighting in the Peninsular War in Spain.
The necklace she wears, Mirojnick explains, “is very significant.”
“Women wore an eye when they were not with their love,” she told Insider. “They were not with them and it was keeping them close to their heart.”
The pendant sits on a simple gold chain and is encased with pearls.
Queen Charlotte, as one would expect, is a commanding character. The tiaras, earrings, and necklaces she’s often seen wearing amplify that.
“More and more is better,” Mirojnick said of the queen, played by Golda Rosheuvel, who had the royal chest of jewels at her disposal.
She could wear diamonds, pearls, rubies, sapphires, and platinum whenever she liked and in whatever capacity she wanted to.
Mirojnick said they layered everything on until it didn’t look right, and when they got to that point, they took off pieces until they came up with a look they are happy with.
The queen had different wigs for each gown, and also specific jewellery pieces that went with each outfit.
Lady Danbury, who plays matchmaker for Simon and Daphne, is “an independent woman” who “has lived a life of her own,” so Mirojnick says they gave her jewellery pieces that are “all very strong.”
Mirojnick says that her necklace of diamonds, “is solid, there is no air in it.”
“There’s nothing very airy and romantic about her jewellery. It’s very strong and solid for the most part,” Mirojnick told Insider.
Lady Danbury is played by Ajoah Andoh.
In the ball featured in episode 4 that is decidedly less straitlaced than the ones that came before it, some of the attendees are seen wearing simple black chokers around their neck in lieu of necklaces.
“That ball was so specific. not relating to any other ball and it was a very eccentric ball, so what that allowed was the freedom to try many different things,” Mirojnick said.
As far as plot points go, it’s also a significant ball as it involves an interrupted proposal and a forbidden dalliance in the garden. It ends with a promise to duel the following morning.
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