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'Bridgerton' Returns With Major Glow-Ups, Chiseled Jawlines and a Motorized Swan Wig

Warning: Light spoilers below for “Bridgerton” Season 3.

Weeks ahead of Thursday’s “Bridgerton” Season 3 release, stills of Colin Bridgerton’s chiseled glow-up, Penelope Featherington’s sultry makeover and a two-second clip of Queen Charlotte’s swan wig already had the internet buzzing. For Lead Makeup Artist Erika Ökvist and her team, keeping the fans amazed was the goal.

“Everyone’s makeover is more extreme visually because we have to deliver to the audience to make them go like, ‘Wow, can it get any better?’…My job is to surprise the audience and make them feel that they’re getting this ultimate experience of always getting a new hairstyle and a new makeup look every time we see [the characters],” she tells Fashionista. “So it becomes not only a wonderful story but a visual feast, almost like a visual symphony.”

From makeup to hair, there is certainly a lot to indulge in: Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) once again takes the crown for the most mesmerizing wigs; Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen) has fans gagged and gooped on her whimsical hairstyles; and, of course, the long-awaited romance between Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) is supported by their respective aesthetic transformations.

Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel).

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

For Ökvist, “it’s difficult to say where the inspiration comes from” when trying to pinpoint the references that help shaped this season’s beauty looks.

“Everything is based on historical knowledge. I think that I probably have got every single picture that there is with anything Regency, and I probably also got every single book that there is as well,” she explains. “But then to make it more palatable for the modernized and because of how extreme everything is, we may marry together a Regency look with something editorial or even something that I’ve just seen on the catwalk.”

There are also random moments when inspiration strikes, she says: visiting the Natural History Museum and looking at crystals, walking down a riverside and seeing a branch or imagining a wig through a dream. “I think that the most important thing is if you’re true to the characters, their story and their journey, then you intuitively feel what would be right for that person.”

Each season, we witness the characters’ natural progression from youthful teenagers to mature “adults” making their entry into society. Penelope undergoes the biggest life change in Season 3, with quite a makeover to reflect that: At the beginning of the season’s premiere, we see her wearing the familiar citrus-colored gowns and tight, round, curly updos of her mother’s influence.

Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan).

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

But as the episode continues, we witness Penelope’s sisters — both recently married — joke about her being destined to end up a spinster. Add the memory of Colin’s words at the end of Season 2 (that he’d never dream of courting Penelope), and her quest to make herself over begins.

“Penelope certainly has got a very round appearance and she’s got round hair and round features,” Ökvist says. “To decide on what her next look should be, you have to really look at what would fit her face the most.” She decided to with “Old Hollywood glam” as it’s a “natural, sexy and sultry look with those eyes, those lips and those cheekbones that go all the way up to God.” References included Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth. This vision is also carried through Penelope’s hair: Gone are her tight curls, making way for softer waves, loosely pulled back or tousled over her shoulders. 

Colin’s appearance was also defined by his round features and round hair shape in prior season, notes Ökvist. This season, though, the artist sharpened up the character by highlighting his jawline and adding angles to his hair.

Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton)

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

“That man has got a lot of cheekbones and jawlines. He’s got almost perfect, what I would call, ‘hero eyebrows.’ So he delivered a lot himself,” she says. “But I think that when somebody finds themself and they’ve been abroad and they’ve done a little bit of traveling and soul searching, that makes them super sexy.”

That sexiness is immediately present in Colin’s opening scene as he steps off the boat in England, and remains prevalent throughout the season. “We are also styling the hair with slightly more square lines, which makes everything more masculine,” Ökvist notes. “I mean, he’s — dare I say it? — hot.”

Where Penelope’s new look is defined by Old Hollywood glam, Ökvist describes Colin’s transformation as one befitting a superhero: “With that face, he can become Superman…He really has got that chiseled face.”

Colin and Penelope may be the leading couple, but “Bridgerton” has no shortage of side characters and secondary plots that are equally attention-grabbing. This is especially true for Cressida, the Ton’s misunderstood mean girl and Eloise Bridgerton’s new best friend. She may not be the most well-liked maiden in high society, but she is certainly among the most glamorous.

Lady Cowper (Joanna Babin) and Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen).

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

In season three, “Cressida is showing a little bit more of her background and we can understand her vulnerability,” Ökvist explains. “Of course, with a lot of people who are feeling really vulnerable, they will put up a huge armor, which she does both in the costume and in the hair and the makeup. The more extreme [the look], the less good she feels about herself.”

This extremity is delivered through extravagant and intricate updos interwoven with grandiose accessories. Ökvist likens Cressida’s penchant for “outrageousness” to that of Queen Charlotte, who also “uses her looks almost like armor to protect herself.”

Going into Season 3, the bar was already set high for the Queen’s beloved otherworldly wigs. It’d be an understatement to say fans’ expectations were met: One of Queen Charlotte’s most exorbitant hair moments is her “Swan Lake”-themed wig, which features a motorized carousel of glass swans.

“I actually 3D-printed this clockwork for Season 2, but I never found a place to put it in,” Ökvist says of the wig. “It then came up as a perfect idea for when we did the Queen’s ball, and it was ballet — I was thinking I wanted swans zooming around in the lake.” Her decision to add the interactive clockwork element helps infuse the period-accurate component.

Queen Charlotte and Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh).

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

“In these times, of course, everybody had a clock and they would wind the clock up with a key. So the fact that she has got that in her hair is absolutely historically correct and appropriate,” she explains.

Queen Charlotte’s imaginative hairdos speak to Ökvist’s creative approach to the character: “What we are thinking about with Georgian wigs that are historically correct would not really work in the world of ‘Bridgerton.’ where everything is extra,” she says.
“We’ve got the historical and then we have the extra.”

Importantly, the series also continues to maintain the integrity of diverse beauty, both on set and on-screen. One key example, which has been consistent throughout the series, is the inclusion of natural hair textures in the wigs worn by characters who themselves have textured hair. “I think that if you are not embracing everybody’s hair texture and everybody’s skin color, you cannot call yourself a makeup artist or a makeup designer,” Ökvist says. “All we need to do is just honor what nature has provided and make it as beautiful as possible. That’s how I look at it. I can’t really think about it in any other way.”

Cultural beauty practices meant to “mimic reality” are also honored in subtle ways on-screen.

“Though we are in a heightened reality of Regency, the reality is that if you have got textured hair, it is good to sleep in a bonnet,” she explains. “It’s also staying true to the characters — this is what they would do. I think showing the diversity on that level is really, really important. It spreads a knowledge that we’ve got to have about each other.” (Hair and makeup artists of color made up nearly half of the glam team, though Ökvist emphasizes she “hires people because of their skill.”)

Penelope and Colin.

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Beyond inclusivity and visual interest, Ökvist feels that the show’s themes of “female empowerment” keep fans coming back.

“You have got a lot of very, very strong women,” she says of the series. “Looking at Lady Danbury, for instance, she’s the epitome of style, but she’s also one of the big backbones of this whole society. You’re mixing that with stunning actors, makeup and hair, costumes and surroundings, so it’s a feast of the eye no matter where you look.”

“Bridgerton” Season 3: Part 1 premieres May 16 on Netflix, and Part 2 arrives June 13.

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