<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-PWMWG4" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">

Bridgerton takes liberties with the past – and Liberty takes liberties with Bridgerton

24 May 2024

Dearest Readers,

You might be surprised to be addressed so directly, but fear not – it is the merest distraction as Lady Whistledown wrests the quill from poor Rakewell’s hand. What else is there, after all, but the pursuit of distraction? While certain hearts have been left aflutter by the return of Bridgerton to Netflix’s screens, we can report another distraction which should set the ton abuzz. We are not thinking of Queen Charlotte’s two-foot-tall wig with a swan automaton gliding through it (a nod to John Joseph Merlin’s famous Silver Swan (1773), now housed in Bowes Museum, perhaps?) but the arrival of another sort of immersive experience, this time at Mr Liberty’s boutique in London.

As we have often asked, what is the primary force that guides us on our paths? Is it our mind, or our hearts? For the team at Liberty, it is clearly the heart. In selecting which designs should appear in its Liberty Fabrics and Bridgerton partnership, it has chosen patterns not from the period, but from a random grab-bag of decades. The Liberty Fabrics x Bridgerton ‘Regency Trail’ crepe de chine is drawn from ‘a hand-painted artwork dating back to 1969’; its ‘Amelie Luise’ Tana Lawn™ cotton from an 1880s design; its ‘Garden Blooms’ cotton from c. 1865. None of this is from the decorative height of 1815 (our favoured period). Have those wags at Liberty spotted the liberties taken by the designers of the TV series? Miss Penelope Featherington’s recent ‘glow up’ (portrayed by Nicola Coughlan) is less Marianne Dashwood and more Marilyn Monroe.

Should you visit the Liberty and Bridgerton immersive experience, you will find an array of wigs from the show (though no swan) and a fake carriage where you can take a selfie (there is a ringlight). There is not a yard of Mrs Featherington’s favoured acid-yellow fabric to be found, thank goodness. As regular readers and viewers will know, the Queen spends her life in a state of ennui. Were this to be her only distraction, such a feeling might be justified. Perhaps, to find real enjoyment, lovers of the 18th century need return to the source.

Yours faithfully,

Lady Whistledown