“This Has Been A Dream Job” – Hair Stylist Farida Ghwedar Shares Her Secrets From The Bridgerton Set

Bridgerton hair looks are trending big time – discover what it’s really like to work as part of the hair and make-up team on set.

Farida Ghwedar

What was the career journey leading up to working on Bridgerton? To style the hair and wigs for three leading ladies in series two and three is beyond impressive…
Oh, thank you so much! I feel incredibly lucky, this has been a dream job. I studied film at university and after some time working at a watch repairs, I knew I needed a practical course to enter the industry. I loved make-up and thought that was an area I may enjoy within film. I took a three-month hair and make-up course at CBMA, run by the designer Christine Blundell. It was an incredible experience with invaluable lessons as well as contacts.

I was terrible at hair with no training before or after! But my frustration made me practice and learn from tutorials in my own time. From there my first job was running the hair and make-up department for Secret Cinema. I saw it was doing a live event for Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla premiere, so I asked if they needed make-up… which led to more than six years as department head!
A friend who also trained at CBMA, Jenny Rhodes McLean, approached me to work on Bridgerton series two as she was supervising and I think she thought I could bring a slightly more modern feel to period hairstyling as that wasn’t my background. From there, Jenny – who looked after Penelope – went on to design and so Erika (Ökvist, hair and make-up designer of series two and three) asked me to take over the hair of the character as well as Kate again for the third series. I’d also looked after Edwina in the second series.

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope

Ashleigh Hodges

Simone Ashley as Kate

“I feel incredibly lucky, this has been a dream job. I studied film at university and after some time working at a watch repairs, I knew I needed a practical course to enter the industry.”
– Farida Ghwedar

Talk us through the process from the first phone call right through to shooting the series…
Prep was three weeks as we were a returning team. However, I had a new character… who was the leading lady! I was very supported in anything I needed though. Erika called and talked through Penelope’s journey. Due to the scale of this job, she created moodboards, would have an initial discussion then trust you with your characters, which is amazing. I then send her looks to be signed off. She’s generally there to support you in every aspect. 
There’s a new look for almost every outfit and once shooting starts you rarely get fittings with the leads due to the schedule. So, most of the time you try on a style for the first time in the call, which is the ‘get ready’ time for hair and make-up. However, we made great use of the two to three fittings we had in prep.

Describe a typical ‘day in the life’ while working on set…
It changes all the time but, on average, we arrive at 5.30am to be ready for your actor in the chair at 6am. Hair/make-up happen then while the actor goes to costume, you grab breakfast, pack your set bag and tidy your station! Head to set for 8am and watch your actors on the monitors to keep an eye on the hair and continuity, and run in for checks where needed. You eat your lunch on the go most days and possibly have one or two changeovers. Finally, you’ll wrap at 6pm, derig your actor, clean the wig, reset it where needed and up your station for the next day.

Penelope’s ‘reveal’ is such an iconic moment of the series. How did you go about finding inspiration and ultimately deciding what was right for the moment?
Nicola Coughlan and I liked the idea of hair down as a departure from Penelope’s old style. I had been wanting to create something like Jane Russell’s sideswept waves or Blake Lively’s hairstyle in The Age of Adaline (the New Year’s Eve scene). The compromise with production was pinning up one side, as they wanted more room for her style to evolve, which made sense. I had already been using pin curls around the hairline, so I just extended this to the back tapering towards the loose waves.

Mash Creative Studio
Mash Creative Studio

Talk us through some of the key steps in creating the reveal hair look…
To start, I blow-dried Bumble & bumble Surf Foam Spray, which gives styling hold and a little grit to the hair. I followed with Oribe Gold Lust Dry Heat Protection Spray. I know most people wet set wigs and use a wig oven but sometimes I feel these sets can be too rigid and harder to dress for soft styles. I like being able to control and manipulate the hair through the whole process. I curl and pin one-inch sections, which takes longer than other sets but each style needed very little redressing using this method. 
Once I had brushed out the waves, I used a little Oribe Supershine Moisturizing Cream to smooth. For the pinned-up section, I reduced bulk by braiding away much of the hair. This also served as an anchor for the pin curls. I lightly sprayed Schwarzkopf Professional Silhouette hairspray as it’s a super-strong hold, and misted Oribe Superfine Hairspray for the loose waves as it allows movement which was part of the walk down the staircase during the reveal. 

What has the reaction been to Penelope’s hair evolution in the third series? 
I’ve been so overwhelmed by all the positive feedback! I do have to stress that this is a collaboration including the artists who looked after Nicola in the past. Nicola is also very involved and has great ideas. The styles are also more wearable because they are more modern this season, so that attracts more attention. 

Do you have a favourite look from the series?
I would say the Hawkin’s Ball, which is the side bun with hair flowers. I feel like all the elements from costume to make-up and hair all came together and Nicola looked beautiful. When everything marries together, that’s always a great thing. 

What are your three kit bag essentials?
My YS Parks or Denman Carbon tail combs, Oribe Supershine Moisturizing Cream and fine waves hair pins. 

What’s one thing readers may not realise about doing hair for film/TV?
When you create a hairstyle it’s not just about making something beautiful or immersive, but you have to consider how long a scene is. This translates to how long that style must last in a wig or be recreated to maintain continuity. You may have to replicate it perfectly a year later, or adapt it to withstand weather or certain action. You must be ready to compromise your vision to align with that of others in charge. 

For any stylists looking to branch out into the world of TV and film hair, what would your advice be?
Be prepared to be tired… always! The hours are long! Hair and make-up are often the first in and last out. You must learn to work efficiently as time is precious, and you must be a team player and stay positive where possible. Asides from your team, your actor is also doing those hours but they have to then step in front of the camera and be ‘on’ all day. You need to be aware of your impact on the start and end of their day.
Lastly, just love the work you do! Not everyone will have the same route into film and TV hairstyling, but if you love hair and put the same amount of effort into a small job as a big job, you will find your way.