When it comes to the scope and scale of one’s profession, Emmy nominated costume designer Sofie Canale is perhaps the most adept at handling the immense and challenging workload of Netflix’s hit series Bridgerton.
The steamy 19th Century period piece started season two with a team of 120 people in house, which included cutters, milliners, teams of patternmakers, a men’s tailor, a dyer, embroiderers, four assistant costume designers, and an embellishment team. Despite this immense team of professionals, the costume department needed upwards of 700 costumes this season, with 160 makes every month that left no time to spare.
Beyond the costumes, Canale has a near endless amount of coordination required for the hairpieces, jewelry, and adornments such as gloves or the shoes to work as an ensemble. It’s over a thousand items to keep track of over the course of the season.
“Ellen Mirojnick and John Glaser built an amazing world in season one, so I had a great foundation going from assistant designer to costume designer,” shares Canale. “With season two, I felt like we were getting to develop the characters further with cuts and fabric choices.”
The newest edition in season two are the Sharmas, an Indian family that comes from Bombay to shake things up with our returning cast. “We ended up using Indian fabrics and Indian embroidery, the jewel-tone color palette was very important,” says Canale. “For Kate we had Emerald tones, and because there’s an anger in her character it dictated darker tones in the early part of the season. As we go through the season, the fabrics are softer and colors become lighter.”
“For the emotion present between the sisters, I often used pinks and muted colors… particularly in the confrontation when Kate is in bed,” says the Emmy nominee. Canale found fabrics in the area known as Southall, citing the major South Asian population there.
A key element of building the characters whether it’s Kate Sharma, Edwina Sharma, or their mother, is the marriage actor and costume. “Fittings are an important element in getting to know the character, and because there are so many costumes there are a ridiculous amount of fittings,” Canale says of running the actors through their looks for the season. “Building the ensemble, especially the gloves in the fitting, makes the costume come together.” For the ballroom dancing dresses, Canale would leave the dresses shorter so that it was more functional for the actresses. That same mentality led to variations to corsets depending on if the performers were meant to be on horseback, dancing, or engaged in more docile activity. “When you’re designing for Bridgerton, it’s about the sense of a scene as well,” shares Canale.