Netflix’s “Bridgerton” Season 2: Costumes That Capture Romance
Bridgerton Season Two is finally here. Fans of the original will not be disappointed at the antics of the ton as Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey), the narrow-minded and duty obsessed Viscount and brother to Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) – the central focus of the freshman season – embarks on finding the perfect spouse. It should come as no surprise that he has a list of suitable qualities for his prospective bride. He quizzes them like a professor with a student. His standards are high and rigorous. So, when a returning family from India has the youngest daughter, Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran), declared the ‘diamond’ of the season by the Queen, the Viscount feels he has found his match. However, he is unprepared for the willful resistance of the older sister, Kate (Simone Ashley). Sparks fly as his arrogance and assumptions are highlighted.
This season’s intrigue enriches the themes of the first: the town’s obsession with the poison-pen author of the ‘gossip rag’, the ravages of class, the plight of gender inequality, and other serious topics against a background of stunning locales. Costume design was entrusted to Sophie Canale, who is sure to receive critical acclaim for her efforts and artistry. For Ms. Canale, the importance of costume and character development are intricately interwoven and visible in each stunning creation.
Being a romance that succeeds because of its tropes, the costume director has been inspired by heritage, culture, and the underlying personalities of its characters. The palpable passion, repressed but always seeming to unravel, is caught in the men’s clothing in particular. Waistcoats in rich fabric, double-breasted, or brightly colored, tame flowing shirts. Jackets are nipped at the waist and padded on the shoulders. Trousers flop into tight, shin-covered boots.
The women’s clothing clashes or reflects connection in deepening and fading hues. The ladies are an orchestra of reflecting tints within a palette. Kate, the strength of the family, is the dominant strong color. The mother (Shelley Conn, playing Mary Sharma) and older sisters have higher bodices and are demurely covered. They are not seeking to attract a mate. Note how the matriarch returning to Great Britain in emotional pain, a mere hint of her former rebellious self, is seen in muted shades – a homage to the distilled vibrancy of her youth. But not her gloves. The stronger color not only links her to her oldest daughter but signals that her spirit may not be completely doused but merely at bay. As for the Viscount, he is tightly contained, the bow at the throat throttling any natural impulse.
Edwina Sharma, the diamond, is the ultimate manifestation of sweetness, intelligence, and optimism – all reflected in the pale pink gown. On display: ample décolletage to capture the would-be suitor’s gaze.
Once again, this season, color denotes class with the lighter tones worn by royalty and those close to the court.
The feckless are shown in bright, notice-me-now vibrancy, consumed with self-importance and missing how out of step they are with the perceptions and shenanigans of those around them.
Lush brocades, shown to highlight newly acquired wealth, almost border on brash in the way they shine.
Especially when compared to the understated choices of the always flawless Bridgerton clan.
Texture and tradition are interwoven to highlight intrigue and impact. The Viscount’s herringbone jacket is textured but topped off at the collar with the same color as Ms. Sharma’s ensemble. The hat for riding is embellished at the band, the trim on the brim reflected in the stitching on her collar. The delicate netting frothing at her throat and disappearing into her jacket seems to, tantalizingly, reveal more than it does.
Indeed, the costume design highlights the character’s emotions, but the keen observer will see, and hear, that the series’ soundtrack adds its own wallpaper of commentary. Made up mainly of strings, the music is a very commendable collection of covers of popular hits like Rhianna’s Diamond, Golden Globe winner Madonna’s Material Girl, Nirvana’s Stay Away, and so many more.