How Penelope & Colin Got Their ‘Glow Ups’ In Bridgerton Season 3

By Charlie Colville

5 days ago

The show's costume, hair and makeup team say it's all in the details


Despite making its debut on Netflix almost four years ago, the frenzy surrounding Bridgerton (and its subsequent series’ and spin-off) has yet to diminish. And, if anything, we anticipate it will only grow with the arrival of its third instalment later this week.

While season 2 leads Kate (Simone Ashley) and Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) Bridgerton step away from the spotlight to enjoy newlywed bliss, the rest of the family are all in motion: Violet (Ruth Gemmell) guides Francesca (Hannah Dodd) through her first steps into society, Eloise (Claudia Jessie) has found a new friend in Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen), and Benedict has caught the eye of a certain sensual widow.

But really, all eyes of the esteemed Ton are on Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) this season – or, more specifically, their glow ups. Ahead of the series‘ streaming premiere, we chatted with costume designer John Glaser and hair and makeup designer Erika Okvist to find out what went into their character transformations, as well as what we can expect from Bridgerton season 3 as a whole.

The New Look: Costume, Hair & Makeup In Bridgerton Season 3

Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 302 of Bridgerton

Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 302 of Bridgerton. (Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024)

‘This season, you’ll probably have to ask yourself ‘what was she wearing?’ says Glaser. ‘Penelope will shine through, and she’ll be beautiful and you’ll see her character – but you’re not really going to remember what she wore all the time.’

It’s an odd thing to say about the leading lady of Netflix’s smash-hit period drama Bridgerton, but costume designer John Glaser says this is all part of the Penelope Feathertington season 3 transformation. ‘We’re not trying to draw focus away from her or her character,’ he continues. ‘This is the moment for her to grow up.’

‘It also shows the sophistication that her character has now,’ agrees hair and makeup designer Erika Okvist.

In early seasons, Penelope is a haphazard splash of colour onscreen; a clashing conundrum of fancy florals, zesty bodices, over-rouged cheeks and tightly-bound curls. But, for season 3, the team behind Bridgerton‘s signature look had to go back to the drawing board when it came to creating her new look.

‘We don’t always have the scripts, but we have a rather broad scope as to what the season will be like,’ explains Glaser. ‘Most mood boards have lots of pictures on them, but we tend to keep ours very small.’ There are three elements to every Bridgerton mood board, we find out: historical, modern and artistic. ‘We always have a piece of original research from the period, as well as a modern reference, and we always try to have a painting – whether it’s an old master painting or a new artist – to help us keep a cohesive visual look. This season we wanted it to be softer. We wanted it to be like a floral garden with shadows and highlights and lots of sparkle.’

(L-R) Jessica Madsen as Cressida Cowper, Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton in episode 301 of Bridgerton

(L-R) Jessica Madsen as Cressida Cowper, Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton in episode 301 of Bridgerton. (Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024)

‘We’re also very driven by the storyline and the characters’ development,’ adds Okvist, who notes that the look and feel of the show does ultimately mature alongside the people onscreen. ‘These are characters that have a story; we have seen them develop from season 1 to season 2, we now know that they have to develop from season 2 to season 3. And how do we do that visually? We have an audience that craves visual opulence, and our job is to try to make them happy while staying true to the characters.

‘Because of the nature of the series, our biggest thing to do is to make sure that people are as attractive and sensual as they can be,’ she continues. ‘We work with their bodies and faces, and that’s when some of the historical correctness has to go out the window because some things just wouldn’t work for certain people. And I think now that the audience knows this world, we can put our spin on it even further.’

A quick look at the season 3 teasers is enough to know that the show doesn’t look quite how it once did; everything is covered in a freshly spun gossamer of sparkles and glamour, one that is far more vibrant and texturally interesting than the demure pastels of the first season. And where the strict visual language of earlier seasons dictated characters’ identities – powder blue Bridgertons and citrus-toned Featheringtons, for example – season 3 is set to (quite literally) mix things up.

(L-R) Rosa Hesmondhalgh as Rae, Kathryn Drysdale as Genevieve Delacroix, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 301 of Bridgerton

(L-R) Rosa Hesmondhalgh as Rae, Kathryn Drysdale as Genevieve Delacroix, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 301 of Bridgerton. (Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024)

‘I always say that Ellen [Mirojnick] and I were pretty bold in the beginning because we had to establish the characters, so we threw everything but the kitchen sink in it to be as bold as possible,’ muses Glaser, who has worked in the show’s costume department since season 1 . ‘And each person in that world was different. It was very blatant who was a Featherington, and who was a Bridgerton. This season we didn’t have to be so blatant about it, because the characters have matured and the audience now knows them better. You’ll see that the colours are mixed up a little more; they’re a little more sophisticated. We’re not following strictly that the Bridgertons are blue and the Featheringtons are green and orange. The characters are intermixing a little more, so it’s all mixed up like a flower garden.’

Flower gardens come up more than once in our conversation. They’re a defining symbol for Penelope – who is branded the Ton’s spinster wallflower by the time season 3 of Bridgerton rolls around – as she sets the tone for the next part of the Bridgerton story, but they also represent the maturing of other characters within the show. ‘We know this season is about Penelope and her maturing into the woman she wants to be – and it might not go so well, but she’s taking this big step forward,’ highlights Okvist. ‘I was thinking about old Hollywood glamour and how, when you see women from this era, you don’t really fixate on how they looked, you just know they looked great. That’s pretty much the feeling that we were going for with Penelope; she just has that old Hollywood feeling.

‘But you have to mirror that with other characters as well,’ she emphasises. ‘You can’t just have one person themed this way, as it will look really off. She obviously needs to look different, and she does make this really bold statement with her look, but we had to replicate elements of this with all the other characters.’

‘There has to be a balance,’ echoes Glaser.

This is the reasoning that sits behind Bridgerton‘s new look; it bends to the changes experienced by its leading characters, as well as the ability to lean further into the story’s fantastical luxury without the hindrance of historical accuracy.

(L to R) Florence Hunt as Hyacinth Bridgerton, Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton, Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton, Ruth Gemmell as Lady Violet Bridgerton sat in regencycore interiors room

(c) Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

But back to Penelope, Bridgerton‘s wallflower-turned-budding-rose. Her ‘glow up’, Okvist tells us, is part of an overhaul of her childish cadence from earlier seasons. ‘If we start with season 1, she’s a young girl, a child,’ she explains. ‘We really emphasised all the round features she had, especially her eyes. Everything was round. Then, in season 2, she’s meddling in trying to become a woman. Some things work and some things don’t, but we still haven’t got any angles really. We just made her look slightly older, a little bit more sophisticated.’

This youthfulness is sharpened by the time we get to season 3, revealing a mature young woman ready to enter the Ton on her own terms – and with a lot more sensuality than the prim and proper Daphne, or the focused, headstrong Kate. ‘We went for that full siren look this season,’ agrees Okvist. ‘We’ve given her the angles around the eyes, we’re doing the snatch, we’re doing the lift. We want her skin to look like melted butter, you know, like Rita Hayworth. I wanted the audience to want to look like this, even if it is slightly crazy.’

‘And we follow suit with the clothing,’ chips in Glaser. ‘If you look at season 1, her hair had lots of little ringlets and curls – now it’s a nice, beautiful long scoop. We matched this sense of understated minimal glamour; we got rid of her necklaces, elongating her neck, and made her clothing much more simple. It just enhances the whole shape of her body in a nice, smooth way.’

Penelope starts off the season still in her original citrus colours – ‘we enhanced those even more, they’re even more intense than they were in the first two seasons,’ says Glaser – before moving into softer neutrals that give her a blank slate to work with; a starting point to finding her voice and story. ‘We don’t want her to be the old Penelope, we don’t want to fix her into what we think her new character is, so we have kept her new colours very soft,’ says the costume designer. ‘We’ve kept her in layered fabrics and colours that keep you guessing — you’re not really sure what one colour she’s wearing. Her silhouette has changed with new corsetry, and we are also pushing the period from 1813 a little bit into 1817, which naturally gives us that change.’

Luke Newton in costume as Colin Bridgerton in Bridgerton season 3

Bridgerton. Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton in episode 301 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2023

As for Colin, ‘He’s become sexy,’ says Glaser.

Rather than follow in the footsteps of older brother Anthony, who stepped into the role of the Regency man and head of the Bridgerton household in season 2, Colin sheds his childishness in favour of a more rugged transformation. ‘It’s a glow up – but it’s not really a fashion glow up,’ explains Glaser. ‘He’s been travelling, living in the basement of the bottom of a ship, so his glow up is more manly. We say he’s like the Marlboro Man, a character from an old 70s cigarette commercial. He was like this cowboy from Australia, who wore these long linen coats. That’s what Colin is based on: the dust, dirt and sweat.’

Of the three Bridgerton style tenets, Glaser tells us its the modern that shines when it comes to Colin’s new look. ‘There are loads of these little things that signal modern influences. There’s the belt, for instance. Men didn’t wear belts during this time period, but a belt looks great on a guy. We made his pants out of denim. There’s no hat, because that would make him look too Regency – and his glow up is meant to take him out of the Regency era, and into just being himself. You know, a nice guy with swagger.’

‘He’s definitely matured,’ agrees Okvist. ‘His body has grown up. You can see this especially well in his face; he’s got all these new angles. If you’re looking at season 1 or 2, all of his features are rounder – more childish, and so boyish. Now, we’re creating a man, and so we go in with the goal to make everything more angular. Everything is kind of squared out. If you look at a superhero in a comic book, you’ll notice they’ve always got the square jawline, the square hairline, those almost-square, a seagull eyebrows – that’s what we’ve been showcasing. And he came like that, which was just great for us.’

‘There’s a Bridgerton man and there’s a Bridgerton boy, but he’s something new: a Bridgerton guy,’ Glaser adds. ‘He’s the guy that every girl wants, you know? He’s grown up physically and he’s grown up mentally from travelling. He’s a little more layered and textured. He’s rugged. Instead of growing into beauty, he’s become sexy. Out of all those guys, you would probably go after him. His glow up has also come from himself.’

The two agree that Luke Newton, who plays Colin on the show, brought a lot of that charm with him into filming. ‘I will never forget when [Luke] showed me the video of himself turning in that coat, and all of my makeup ladies were swooning,’ remembers Okvist. ‘He loved it.’

‘That swagger was a combination of what we gave him, and what he brought to us,’ says Glaser. ‘The clothing, hair and makeup gave him the confidence to act like that.’

Bridgerton. (L to R) Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan in costume as Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington for Bridgerton season 3

(L to R) Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington (c) Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

And, coming together onscreen, Colin and Penelope match in their grown up modernity; they finally seem to be on the same page. The team took this sentiment a little further by introducing small easter eggs that hinted at the growing relationship between the two, Glaser notes. ‘There’s a very subtle thing that we did. In the first episode, Colin has to put on his court clothes, and he wears this green ascot or cravat,’ he says. ‘Later on, you’ll notice that Penelope also has a little green French scarf around her neck. That’s just to show that she recognises this new version of him, the one he’s bringing with him from Paris.’

While Polin inevitably takes up the majority of our conversation, we can’t help but wonder what else Bridgerton season 3 has in store for its audience. From a visual point of view, Okvist tells we will not be disappointed: ‘There is not one single frame that isn’t beautiful and luxurious.’

But, as we’ve discussed, it’s not without a fresh take on the classic Bridgerton look. ‘Don’t expect the obvious,’ emphasises Glaser. ‘Audiences can’t expect what they’re used to, as this season everything is slightly different.’

WATCH

You can see all the lovely costume, hair and makeup come to life in Bridgerton season 3, which drops on Netflix on 16 May 2024. netflix.com

Featured image: Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024