the depth of ‘bridgerton’ season two’s costumes


illustration: chloé proffitt

Dearest gentle reader, the most swoon-worthy show on Netflix finally made its season two return on March 25, and once again we are reunited with the beloved “Bridgerton” franchise. Fans eagerly streamed the eight episode season, absorbing its unique modern approach to the portrayal of Regency era London romance. Based on Julia Quinn’s romance novel series, this season takes inspiration from the second book in her series, “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” as it follows the eldest Bridgerton son, Anthony, in his quest for love, revolving around his relationship with the newly introduced Sharma sisters, Edwina and Kate, who hail from Bombay (Mumbai), India.

Through their work, producers Chris Van Dusen and Shonda Rhimes craft a show that captivates audiences through its combination of relatable, modern details with the romanticized extravagance of the Regency era. Visually, the ornateness of the costumes within the show enchants audiences, yet their role surpasses fulfilling the show’s aesthetic. Rather, details within the costumes purposefully add to the depth of the show, specifically in the realms of character distinction and cultural representation. 

For season two, costume designer Sophie Canale headed a team of over 120 people, working to create over 700 costumes over the course of the eight episodes. With such a large scale production, Canale’s attention to detail in each look, from garments, embellishments, coordinating jewelry and other accessories, shone through stunningly throughout this season. From a broad angle, the costumes distinguish various families by color, with the Bridgerton women tending towards white and pastel garments with subtle silver jewelry, the Featheringtons in bright oranges and yellows with flashy gold jewelry and the Sharmas with rich jewel tone garments and rose gold jewelry. 

However, this season differs from the previous one, as it heavily utilizes costume to highlight South Asian representation. In an interview with The A.V. Club, Canale notes that she traveled to India as well as shopped for fabrics in Southall, a London district with heavy South Asian influences, giving her immersive experience to aid in her research of the culture. In the outfits of the Sharma sisters, Canale chose South Asian fabrics like silk and jacquard, incorporating South Asian-inspired patterns like paisley and gold embellishments. Even details within the floral patterns worn by the Sharmas reflected South Asian culture, as they included flowers native to those areas, such as marigolds, jasmine and hibiscus, instead of those found in England. 

Additionally, in an interview with Fashionista, Canale appreciates that “Poonam [Thanki], one of our jewelers, is from Indian heritage, so it was great to have so much knowledge from her.” In terms of jewelry, both Kate and Edwina wear jhumka, or traditional bell-shaped earrings. Jewelry proves to support the plot of the show, as the season’s climax revolves around Kate dropping South Asian inspired emerald and gold bangles. With various incorporations of South Asian culture, Canale works subtly yet purposefully, allowing for effective representation of the culture without stereotyping it.

In addition to representation, Canale emphasized traits of several characters through the elements of their respective costumes. Eloise Bridgerton’s costumes exhibited a masculine structure, reflecting her rebellious nature against the expectations of womanhood. Of the Bridgerton brothers, Benedict wears garments with stylized details, including ruffles and gloves, to reflect his artistic eccentricity, while Anthony remains in a simple, traditional look. Edwina’s color palette stood in the pastel range, conveying her innocence, sweetness and naivety. In contrast, Kate’s color palette shifted throughout the season, effectively paralleling her shift in character, as she started in bold jewel tones, and gradually transitioned into softer colors as she became less austere and more comfortable with Anthony. 

The beautifully intricate costume design in season two of “Bridgerton” not only emphasizes the romanticized view of Regency era London, but also allows for South Asian representation and important distinctions among characters. The attention to detail within the show’s costume design sets it apart from other period dramas, as it possesses an incredible amount of depth and meaning beyond visual appeal. As Netflix has renewed “Bridgerton” for seasons three and four, audiences will continue to see the ways in which the costumes influence the characters and themes of the show. 


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