The second season of Bridgerton, Shonda Rhime’s hit Netflix series, was released last week. This season has latched onto viewers’ interests in a variety of ways, from seductive makeup to steamy sex scenes to dramatic suspense. Bridgerton is easily Netflix most popular show.
A big reason for the show’s success is the fashion, which displays a wide array of lavish dresses and jewelry. For this season, Netflix has teamed up with the British Fashion Council to commission three young POC designers to create stunning looks. The three winners were then mentored by fashion designer Jenny Packham, creating costumes heavily inspired by the Regency era (which Bridgerton takes place in.) Ifeanyi OkwuadIan Anglo-African, was one of the designers.
Born to a Sierra Leonean mother and a Nigerian father, Okwuadi, 27, studied textile design at Ravensbourne University in London. He had worked for Cat and the Dandy, a well-known costume designer in the English capital, although he wanted to be a footballer. His emerging pinnacle as the winner of the 2021 Hyères Fashion Festival cemented his presence in the industry and has since given him access to several spots, including being one of the designers to work on. Bridgerton.
We spoke to Okwuadi about his journey and his work on the second season of Bridgerton.
Born to a Sierra Leonean mother and a Nigerian father, Okwuadi, 27, studied textile design at Ravensbourne University in London.
Photo credit: Ifeanyi Okwuadi,
How was he growing up? Have you had an interest in fashion?
So, I was born in North West London and my childhood had nothing to do with fashion. I just wanted to hang out and hang out with friends playing football or hanging out, to be honest. I also had a strong female presence in my life, and that also helped guide me.
So how was the transition from football to fashion made? These industries can be quite distinct.
Around grade 16, when I was in college, I took a year off. During this time, I thought about my true passion and what I wanted to do. Academically, I was a computer scientist, but I found that to be very competitive and I was losing patience with it. I thought about how I like to draw – not necessarily clothes, but people and things around me. I then took a short two-month training course at Central Saint Martins. From there, my teacher took a particular interest in my work, and that’s how fashion started for me.
I remember you said you were outgoing. What other personalities do you have, and how do you infuse them into your work?
I listen to a lot of music, and that kind of provided a foundation and foundation for my work. It also helps and guides my thought processes. I go a lot to these exhibitions and art galleries where I also find inspiration. I enjoy talking to people, but not necessarily in very large social settings.
It’s interesting that you say you’re not a big fan of the big social networks, because you won the Hyères Fashion Festival in October. And, from what I understand, there were a lot of fashion executives there.
I was so into what I was doing, immersed in it and making the most of it. I’ve been working on this collection for almost six years – the themes, the concept and the ideas the collection would be based on. Presenting the collection that day was the moment I realized what an important occasion it was. I heard my name, and that’s when it kind of hit. It was a fantastic experience and one that I will definitely recommend.
How did the victory influence your brand?
It’s done a lot actually. The level of exposure and the resources I have access to are mind-blowing. The different people and doors that are now open are something I never really would have considered. I mean, I tried to always work, but I really thought I’d be set back to do what I do.
Bridgerton East easily Netflix’s most popular show.
Photo Credit: Liam Daniel/Netflix
Can we talk about the Bridgerton collection? How did it happen and what was the process?
So I am a British fashion scholar, and Netflix came up with a project for researchers to design something. They gave us ideas, and I was a fan of the show from the first season. I had watched it, so I had some ideas of what it was about – couture, the regency era. I was motivated to come up with ideas, and when I did, they loved it and took it up.
How did you manage to translate your inspiration into clothes?
Being able to meet the cast of the show and interact with them about their characters really helped inform my design process. I also studied the Regency period extensively. Interestingly enough, a year before this was proposed, I was looking into the regency era for personal knowledge. So I already had that. I checked the dress code, the people, how it’s been modernized, etc. I also watch contemporary films and how silhouettes and shapes of clothing have changed. Then I worked with Wedgewood focus on Bridgerton’s family, their distinctive patterns, and how the family dressed.
What were the most exciting processes for you during this project?
I think it’s seeing the clothes in the real world. It was very difficult to work on them, but it was a different feeling to see the characters wearing them. People’s reactions were also very good, and I congratulate myself and the team for having succeeded.
I would like to know what are your hopes for the future?
I really hope to present and propose a new approach for men’s fashion. I want men to wear something that is relevant for today, but also has some kind of substance behind it. I hope that I am not only able to design beyond clothes, but also produce ideas and ways of thinking. I want people to wear clothes and other people to find out their interests just by seeing what they’re wearing. I hope my brand isn’t just about logos, but I also want to put my identity on it and use it as a way to tell a story and be an activist.
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