Bridgerton: Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan get a ‘glow up’ in season three

  • By Noor Nanji
  • Culture reporter

Image caption, Colin and Penelope’s relationship takes center stage in the third season of Netflix’s period drama

Bridgerton is back, with all its glamorous outfits, glittering ballrooms and, of course, gossiping aristocrats.

The third season of Netflix’s period drama focuses on the relationship between Penelope Featherington, played by Nicola Coughlan, and her old crush Colin Bridgerton, played by Luke Newton.

But beyond the stories of love and lust, fans may also notice a change in how both stars look.

They have undergone a “glow-up”, Bridgerton’s costume designer John Glaser tells BBC News.

He said that in seasons one and two, Penelope was “young and insecure” and was forced to wear bright yellow and bright green by her mother.

Image caption, Nicola Coughlan’s character Penelope is breaking away from yellow in the new season

But in season three she becomes more independent and starts wearing colors such as dark emerald green, as well as more muted shades. “It’s as opposite as we can go.”

“We also changed her body shape to make her more mature, sexier and less of a child,” Glaser adds.

Meanwhile, the initial brief for Colin was to “look younger” than his two older brothers, “so we kept his colors more youthful,” explains Bridgerton associate costume designer Dougie Hawkes.

But in the new season, Colin has just returned from his summer travels through Europe.

“He comes back as a man, so the evolution of the boy’s colors into the male dominant force… was a drastic transformation,” Hawkes explains.

As a result, Colin, who wore lighter shades such as baby blue in the earlier episodes, is seen in much bolder shades this time around, such as navy blue and brown.

According to Glaser, his clothes also provide more movement and more swagger.

Image caption, Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, seen here with his on-screen sister Hyacinth (Florence Hunt).

Based on the novel series by Julia Quinn, Bridgerton is set in the world of high society in Regency London and revolves around the influential Bridgerton family.

It is narrated by the mysterious Lady Whistledown, who regularly writes newsletters full of talk about the dating exploits of high society. Everyone reads her well-informed recordings with fascination, but no one knows who she is. At the end of season one, her identity was revealed to be Penelope.

In the final season, Penelope seems to have given up her hopes of romance with Colin. But she has decided she needs to find a husband and is trying to enter the marriage market.

Colin is discouraged when he notices that Penelope is wringing his neck, so he offers to help her find a husband to win back her friendship.

Image caption, Shonda Rhimes brought Bridgerton to the screen for Netflix through her production company Shondaland

Shonda Rhimes, the woman who brought Bridgerton to the big screen, has described Penelope’s wardrobe this season as “extraordinary”.

“So many times I found myself pausing to really examine her dresses because they were so exquisitely made and so perfectly made for her,” Rhimes said in press materials for the show. “It’s really beautiful.”

Penelope has been on “an amazing journey,” Rhimes continued, adding, “I have always loved the character of Penelope. I love the idea that she’s keeping this whole secret life hidden.”

“And what I love is that we see her step out on her own this season. She’s really trying to come into her own, she’s starting to stand up for herself and she owns what it means to be Lady Whistledown. I think that It’s a great journey for her.”

But Rhimes said Colin is also going through an evolution.

“I feel like we’re seeing Colin grow up this season. He’s always been very boyish and this season he’s becoming a man in so many ways,” she said.

“He’s been abroad, he’s learned some things and he comes back with a new attitude, but that attitude is really tested as his feelings for Penelope grow.”

Image caption, The Bridgerton family is central to the series

On social media, fans have welcomed Penelope’s new look.

“Penelope looks like a princess with these dresses in blue and green,” one Instagram user wrote.

“That dress, those colors, suits her so well,” said another.

Coughlan, who plays Penelope, has said the transformation had been “amazing” for her. “You really feel so completely different when you perform,” she said.

“In season one, I remember the late great (Bridgerton makeup designer) Marc Pilcher saying to me that the comments they had about Penelope were that she was sloppy, and I’m completely okay with that. But after two seasons it was so nice to finally wear flattering things, and it really helped the character.

“She needs to grow in confidence, and it has helped me grow in confidence too.”

Image caption, Many of Bridgerton’s scenes feature ballrooms

Newton, who plays Colin, also enjoyed his character’s development.

“He’s matured, he’s grown up, he’s chasing a goal. His style has changed, his confidence has changed, he’s got an element of swagger now,” he said.

He described the past few years as a “crazy journey” since finding out he and Coughlan would be at the forefront in season three.

“It was a very special moment to find out we were going to do our love story and focus on our book,” he said.

Showrunner Jess Brownell said makeovers are “a big trope in the rom-com genre”.

She compared Penelope’s transformation in season three to the iconic moment in the 1999 film She’s All That, where Rachel Leigh Cook walks down the stairs in a red dress and is instantly popular and beautiful.

But she warned that while Penelope is getting her makeover, it won’t necessarily have the impact she thought it would.

“Sure, her citrus-colored dresses aren’t the best, but there’s a much bigger internal journey to go,” she said.

The hair, makeup, and costume design have become integral parts of the Bridgertonverse.

Fashion historian Jane Walton described the costumes as “delightfully OTT”.

“Fashion is used to portray characters, which in drama is a good thing,” she told BBC News.

She said period dramas like Bridgerton have helped get younger people interested in history, as well as Regency-era fashion.

“The Regency vibe was quite edgy, affectionate, they liked to show off their figures,” she said. “Fashion from that time still has an influence today. It is a style that keeps coming back.”

So can Bridgerton viewers expect more scandalous clothing in season three? Costume designer Hawkes says yes.

“(The series) has taken it in, taken it out and brought it back. Especially in season three, I think viewers will see the return of the challenging Regency era,” he said.

“It was a pretty riotous era.”

The first part of the third season of Bridgerton is now available on Netflix. The second part will be released on June 13.