On the Supposed Bridgerton Fashion Boom

Chloe Foussianes
·3 min read

From Town & Country

Bridgerton was made to look, and taste like, an intricate pastry: an unabashed indulgence, coated in several layers of pastel coating and floral motifs. Its characters float around in empire waist dresses, their hair woven into ribbon-tied confections, making eyes at prospective suitors and scheming from behind copies of Lady Whistledown's broadsheet.

Given that so much of its appeal was visual, and its costumes—buoyed by a royal-worthy budget—were always front and center, Bridgerton was almost immediately hailed as a source of aesthetic inspiration, particularly in the fashion world. Indeed, it wasn't long before 1stDibs saw its sales of 18th-century French antiques double, and Etsy reported a 100% increase for Regency-era accessories, like tea trays and vintage mirrors. Regencycore gained steam as yet another fantasy-minded trend on TikTok, and the hashtag racked up videos of influencers spinning around their bedrooms in homespun Bridgerton-inspired gowns.

Come Couture Week in January, just weeks after the show landed on Netflix, declaring collections to be Bridgerton-like became an simple shorthand for any and all clothing with an European aristocratic air (and an easy bid for cultural salience). Dior, Fendi, Chanel, and more were categorized as such. Then fashion month arrived, and the label started to make a little more sense—largely because this time, the designers could have feasibly seen the show before finishing their collections. Snow Xue Gao directly cited the show as inspiration, while Self-Portrait cast Phoebe Dyvenor, a.k.a. Daphne Bridgerton, for its fall campaign.

What much of this forgets, though, is how enamored of the fashion industry has always been of regal European aesthetics, and how much designers have enjoyed toying with its tropes. In December, a week and a half before Bridgerton dropped, Tia Adeola released a short film debuting her spring-summer 2021 collection. Titled Le Noir Est Beau (Black is Beautiful), the film was inspired by Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, and featured Black models wearing Adeola's wares—which, as always, were influenced by the renaissance.

Before that, the spring-summer 2021 fashion weeks were replete with their usual European antique inspirations. Erdem Moralioglu looked to a Susan Sontag novel about 18th-century society force Emma Hamilton; Jonathan Anderson cited Oscar Wilde for his namesake label, and Spanish and Dutch Old master paintings for Loewe; Simone Rocha delved into portraits of Charles II's famed mistress, Nell Gwyn. And then there's the fact that Bridgerton's costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick, looked to recent couture collections from the likes of Chanel to inspire the show's looks in the first place, taking plenty of creative license with historical accuracy, in keeping with the show's approach to history more largely.

Perhaps Bridgerton shouldn't be seen as an all-important source of inspiration as much as the continuation of a growing trend: an interest in revisiting the tired royal courts of centuries past through a different lens—one that's, very often, a lot more fun.

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