On Wednesday, the Ivy Film Festival hosted a virtual conversation with costume designers Ellen Mirojnick and Denise Wingate.
Mirojnick has previously worked on “The Greatest Showman” and “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” among a number of other television shows and movies. She is also spearheading the costume design team for Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” which is set to release in July. Wingate’s past repertoire includes titles like “Cruel Intentions,” “A Cinderella Story” and “Wedding Crashers.”
During their discussion, the pair focused on their most recent projects. Mirojnick served as the creative behind the elaborate gowns and attire of the hit Netflix show “Bridgerton.” Wingate was responsible for curating the ’70s-style wardrobe for the characters of “Daisy Jones & the Six.”
Two of the biggest factors Mirojnick considers when costume designing are the scale and budget of the project she is working on. For example, the unique style of “Bridgerton,” which took a creative twist on Regency fashion, meant that none of the pieces could be rented or sourced from anywhere. As a result, Mirojnick needed to assemble a team of designers that could craft every element from start to finish.
Wingate had a different approach for “Daisy Jones and the Six.” She spent countless hours scouring flea markets and costume houses in Los Angeles, alongside making pieces by hand if she could not find what she was looking for.
Working with vintage materials was an important part of making the show’s costumes feel authentic, Wingate said, adding that she wanted audiences to “feel the history of” the clothes with every onscreen outfit.
The pair spoke about the nature of designing for period pieces in particular. For Mirojnick, there is sometimes a danger of being “so precise that it takes … away from the freedom and spontaneity” of characters when designing for movies or shows that are set in historical eras. Wingate added that when she works, she prioritizes visualizing the show’s wardrobe as a whole instead of getting caught up in whether a single piece of clothing is period accurate.
Mirojnick and Wingate were also largely unconcerned about their designs’ adherence to the source material that inspired the shows they worked on. “Bridgerton” is based on a book series by Julia Quinn, but Mirojnick explained that she wanted to base her designs on the vision of the show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes.
Similarly, Wingate said that she did not want her designs to be restricted to the descriptions from Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel version of “Daisy Jones and the Six.” But Wingate acknowledged that there were some outfit details from the book that fans would be expecting.
“If I didn’t put them in there, I would be disappointing the fans,” she said.
The two designers also delved into the somewhat accidental origins of both of their careers. Mirojnick started in the fashion industry and did not intend on venturing into designing for film and television until her then-husband enlisted her to make costumes for his low-budget film.
Wingate began working in the entertainment business as a personal assistant and would take on many jobs in the industry until she eventually ended up working in the design field. “I had no plans of being a costume designer,” she said. “It wasn’t on my radar at all.”
Throughout the discussion, Mirojnick and Wingate also emphasized the importance of teamwork when designing for film and television. “The work that you guys have seen … and the things that you like from other designers” have all been the product of creative collaboration between multiple departments, Mirojnick said.
Both designers agreed that their favorite part of designing for film and television is telling a story through the costumes they create.
“I like to know why a character would wear something and where they would get their clothes,” Wingate said.
Mirojnick also finds the narrative aspect of design rewarding. “What I’ve found exceptionally satisfying about being a costume designer and having the opportunity to do ‘Bridgerton’ was that I was able to create a world.”
Daphne is an Arts & Culture writer from Austin, Texas. She is planning on studying International and Public Affairs. Her passions include cats, running and Phoebe Bridgers.