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From Penelope’s Makeover to Eloise’s Audrey Hepburn Moment, Bridgerton’s Costume Designer Talks Season 3

As Bridgerton Season 3 lands on Netflix, John Glaser talks us through Penelope’s new look, Colin’s Marlboro Man-inspired aesthetic, and more.

Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

There’s a moment in the Bridgerton Season 3 when Nicola Coughlan’s Penelope Featherington—this installment’s new leading lady, who, as a supporting character, was previously almost always dressed in a retina-searing shade of yellow—finds herself unable to sleep. Her best friend, Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie), has discovered that she has—spoiler alert—been moonlighting as Lady Whistledown, and so has abandoned her in favor of the mean-spirited Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen). Her sisters (Bessie Carter’s Prudence Featherington and Harriet Cains’s Philipa Featherington), too, have taken husbands, and she finds herself in need of a fresh start. She must also marry, Penelope decides, and build a life where she can continue to write her salacious social commentary in private.

She gets out of bed, flings open the doors of her wardrobe, and looks inside with frustration. On a visit to the modiste the following day, she declares, “I do not wish to see a citrus color ever again.” Cue a makeover, which sees the social wallflower swap her pastels and floral motifs for a darker and more sensual color palette—one which catches the eye of Luke Newton’s Colin Bridgerton, her lifelong friend who, over time, begins to see her in a whole new light.

bridgerton season 3

Nicola Coughlan’s Penelope Featherington yearns for a makeover in Bridgerton Season 3. Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Her sartorial transformation is just one of many in the Regency romp’s next chapter: there’s also Colin himself, who returns from his European adventures as a more rugged and worldly suitor, trading his Bridgerton baby blues for earthier shades; Eloise, whose outfits begin to mirror the flamboyance of Cressida’s; and Kate Bridgerton, née Sharma (Simone Ashley), whose Indian heritage, referenced in her Season 2 costumes, is even more pronounced this time around in the gold-embellished, sari-inspired ball gowns she wears as a newly married woman.

Also stepping into the spotlight is the mysterious Francesca Bridgerton (Hannah Dodd, inheriting the part from Ruby Stokes for Season 3), who follows in the footsteps of her older sister, Phoebe Dynevor’s Daphne, to make her debut in front of Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel). Shy and retiring, she seems to love her pianoforte more than the idea of falling in love, and as she meets potential partners, her costumes offer clues about her future.

To create all of these extraordinary ensembles, showrunner Jess Brownell and executive producer Shonda Rhimes enlisted the help of John Glaser, who previously collaborated with Ellen Mirojnick on the costumes for the series’s first season. As the first half of Season 3 lands on Netflix on May 16, he talks us through Penelope’s sultry new look, Colin’s Marlboro Man-inspired aesthetic, and Eloise’s nods to My Fair Lady.

Vogue: The costumes in the first two seasons of the show are spectacular. How did you want to evolve the Bridgerton look for Season 3 while also staying true to the series’s aesthetic?

John Glaser: For the first season, we threw everything but the kitchen sink at it, because we had to define the characters very quickly, so it was broad strokes and distinct color palettes. For Season 2, the costumes were a little bolder in color and more period-correct. And this season, because of the story we’re telling, we thought, Let’s make it softer. It’s more textural, a little more blurry. We layered fabrics—for instance, we’d take a warmer color and a cooler color and combine them, so when you’re looking at a dress, you’re not totally sure if it’s blue or green.

James Phoon as Harry Dankworth, Bessie Carter as Prudence Featherington, Harriet Cains as Philipa Featherington, Lorn Macdonald as Albion Finch, and Nicola Coughlan as a pre-makeover Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton Season 3. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

That’s especially the case for Penelope, who has a makeover at the start of Bridgerton Season 3. As she moves away from citrus yellows, she wears a lot of green shades, but it also feels like she’s transitioning into those Bridgerton blues…

After her first big reveal, we see her in this darker green color. If you look closely, you’ll notice that her hair in that scene is now a slightly different shade of red. The underlayer of that outfit is actually an iridescent fabric that’s green and copper, and it sort of blends in with her hair. After that, for her new look, we wanted softer, more neutral colors. Are her dresses green? Are they blue? We didn’t want to reveal anything about where her story might be going.

bridgerton season 3

Coughlan’s Penelope after her dramatic makeover. Photo: Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix

We’ve also used gloves since Season 1, and they were made from stretch satin, but that looks a bit cheap. So, we wanted more sheer gloves this time and, for Penelope, little sheer mitts—you probably won’t even notice her wearing them. We also pushed her a little forward in time, to 1817, in terms of her silhouette, and dropped the empire waist.

Coughlan’s Penelope with Luke Newton’s Colin Bridgerton. Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Coming onto Colin, fans have been describing his more rugged new look as “sexy pirate,” and I know you’ve compared it to the Marlboro Man.

If you look at the first two seasons, Colin wears a lot of baby blues. But now he’s been on a trip for six months, and he’s been in the cabin of a ship. In reality, he’d be smelly, his clothes would be dirty, he’d be unshaven—but this is Bridgeton, so you have to glamorize it a little bit. So, we went straight to the Marlboro Man; we’re not supposed to talk about smoking, but that guy’s on a horse in the dust and dirt. He’s a bit sweaty, and he has a lot of swagger.

Newton’s Colin in Season 1 of Bridgerton; Colin returning from his adventures in Season 3. Photo: Netflix

We gave Colin these long coats; there’s this great movement when he walks. His look is semi-period-correct—we actually used denim for his trousers, and we gave him a belt, open shirts, and some pieces which wouldn’t have existed in that period, so he feels of this time but also quite modern.

bridgerton season 3

Colin’s darker new look in Bridgerton Season 3. Liam Daniel/Netflix

There are also scenes where his look seems to be coordinating with Penelope’s?

There is definitely some coordination. We don’t like people to match, but it has to be pleasant to the eye and work with the scenery. You just can’t do it too much or it looks fake, but we do put a lot of thought into that process.

Colin and Penelope’s subtle coordination in Bridgerton Season 3. Photo: Netflix

Beyond the leads, there are so many characters to ask you about, but I have to start with the queen. There’s one look in Bridgerton Season 3 which actually involves a Swan Lake-themed wig with a working motor!

So, that wig was, of course, created by our hair and make-up designer Erika [Ökvist]—we were working on a scene with a ballet, and we thought it’d be fabulous to reference Swan Lake, because the queen’s sitting in her box and it’s her ball, so she’d want something pretty spectacular. What Erika came up with was great, and we followed suit with our costume, which is covered in little feathers. All the queen’s wigs are incredible, and it was like, How can we top this? And the answer was with a wig that required a motor hooked up to a battery pack!

bridgerton season 3

Simone Ashley’s Kate Bridgerton with Jonathan Bailey’s Anthony Bridgerton. Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

I also loved Kate’s looks, which, as in Season 2, include some nods to her Indian heritage.

There were subtle Indian references in Season 2, but we were much more blatant about it this time. Her sleeves and the cut of her dresses are much more influenced by saris in the way they flow at the back, and the colors—we went for earth tones, more natural colors, the colors of spice. And in the second half of the season, she becomes even more obviously influenced by Indian fashion. That’s all I’ll say…

bridgerton season 3

Claudia Jessie’s Eloise Bridgerton. Photo: Netflix; Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Photo: Warner Bros.

Then there’s Eloise, who has a new look this season. She’s now friends with Cressida, and suddenly she’s wearing more ruffles?

We do get to see her in some things that she wouldn’t normally have worn before. We got to break out of her stiffer clothes, and give her bows and ruffles, but it feels tailored rather than fussy. We try to keep her in a truer Regency style, but there are also references to Audrey Hepburn—there’s something almost ’60s about her long satin coats. We nod to My Fair Lady, and we even use pointed, modern shoes on her to give her that slightly more modern look.

Jessie’s Eloise in her bow-embellished new look. Photo: Netflix; Hepburn’s Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection

Lastly, we have Francesca Bridgerton, who finally has the spotlight on her this season. What were your key references for her look?

So, when she’s presented to the queen, her dress is actually a copy of Daphne’s dress from Season 1—it’s like a family heirloom being passed down. But her references after that point are Grace Kelly and a ’40s Katharine Hepburn, with her sheer blouses and little puff sleeves. She’s in Bridgerton colors, but if you look closely, you’ll see that she also wears a lot of light apricot blended with that blue. So, again, you’re not really sure what colors she’s wearing and where her story’s going. That’s what I like about this season: the first time you watch it, you’re like, Oh, look at that! Then the second time, and the third time, you see so much more, because of how we layered textures and fabrics. The closer you look, the more you’ll see.

bridgerton season 3

Hannah Dodd’s Francesca Bridgerton in her debutante gown in season three; Phoebe Dynevor’s Daphne Bridgerton in season one. Photo: Netflix

Was there one look this season that was the most challenging to create?

There is one, but it’s in the second half of the season. It’s a look that Cressida wears, and it’s totally out of context for the period and for the show. You’ll know it when you see it.

bridgerton season 3

Dodd’s gowns in season three demand a closer look. Photo: Netflix

The first four episodes of Bridgerton Season 3 are streaming on Netflix, with the final four arriving on June 13.

Originally published on Vogue.com

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