It seems like every few months, a new show takes the world by storm. Everyone is watching it, talking about it and dreaming about when the next few episodes will come out. In the later days of December 2020 and into 2021, that show was Netflix’s “Bridgerton.” Set between 1813 and 1827 in England, the series tells the story of the Bridgerton siblings and their quest to find love.
Fashion critics have been abuzz since the show’s premiere with talk of the costuming for the show. Vogue’s Radhika Seth characterizes the show’s 7,500 costumes as “dripping in jewels, feathers and finery.” Seth also adds that “there are silk gowns rendered in ice cream pastels, acid-bright florals, acres of ruffles, rhinestone-encrusted sleeves and wigs that could rival Marie Antoinette’s.”
The costume designers for the show, Ellen Miroknick, John Glaser and John Norster — as well as many teams of talented professionals — worked tirelessly to dress the many characters of the show. Deborah Tallentire, the costume cutter for the lead women’s team who was assigned to dress the character of Daphne, recruited Shenandoah University alumnus Joey Santangelo ’14 as a trainee costume maker. The two met when Santangelo was a graduate student studying theatre costume at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England. Tallentire served as a guest lecturer on the subject of men’s tailoring.
The lead women’s team consisted of 10 people who were responsible for making Daphne’s costumes. Santangelo was responsible for taking the fabric pieces, trimmings and lace that the cutter chose and assembling the final dresses. Skills required for work include “pattern matching, lace cutwork, fabric heat molding, draping and extremely accurate machine stitching,” said Santangelo.
The team completed fittings throughout the entire process and worked closely with the design team. Santangelo, a Shenandoah Conservatory graduate who studied voice performance and took a few costume design courses at SU, was responsible for sewing seven of the 100 bespoke dresses that were made for Daphne.
When I started to see trailers for ‘Bridgerton,’ it was a full circle moment. To be scrolling through Instagram or Facebook and see a dress I made on TV was fulfilling in a way that nothing else has been so far. It is so rewarding to have something that you made with your own two hands on the TV in your family living room.”
Joey Santangelo ’14
Santangelo hopes to continue working in the film and television world, especially for future seasons of “Bridgerton.” He aspires to be a senior dressmaker or tailor: “Although being a designer has never been one of my aspirations, being able to construct someone else’s vision is where I find the reward.”
To keep up-to-date with what Santangelo is doing and to see some behind the scenes photos from “Bridgerton,” follow him on Instagram.