Nicola Coughlan Is a Certified Fashion Girlie


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Photography by Getty Images

The ‘Bridgerton’ star is slaying the red carpet, and we should be paying attention.

Bridgerton fans are only weeks away from getting new episodes of their favourite show, but their season 3 leading lady is already serving the people — at least on the red carpet, that is. We’re calling it: Nicola Coughlan is a fashion icon in the making.

Coughlan is the star of the third season of the hit Netflix series, Bridgerton, playing one half of the season’s OTP #Polin. While having starred in other popular series like Derry Girls (IYKYK) and the newly-released Big Mood, it’s her role as wallflower Penelope Featherington for the past two seasons that has really catapulted the Irish actress into superstardom.

And while her character on the show may be known for her dowdy yellow outfits and harsh orange hair (we’re sorry, but Penelope needs to get hip to TikTok’s hair theory, stat!), Coughlan — a longtime fashionista — is in full style bloom, walking the Bridgerton and Big Mood red carpets in fits that would make the most fashion minded weep (with joy, and a little bit of envy, of course). Which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to longtime #NicolaStans. Because even before Bridgerton, the actress has been consistently stepping on our necks with her style for awhile now, popping up at Netflix events in a to-die for Mara Hoffman dress, accessorized with electric blue Paula Rowan gloves (and Irish designer!), walking the Barbie premiere red carpet in an artfully handmade gown by Wiederhoeft (and inspired by her fave Barbie as a kid), and attending Vogue World and The Met Gala in some truly out-of-this world dramatic gowns.

The biggest difference now? Coughlan just has the platform to show off her superb style. And we’re entirely here for it.

Kicking off the Bridgerton press tour on February 15, Coughlan set the scene for her sartorial triumph, as well as looks to come, when she stepped out onto the floral carpet in donning a structured red oversized blazer and matching textured heels from Stella McCartney.

Weeks later, the actress made an appearance at Paris Fashion Week in a snatched Vivienne Westwood dress paired with bedazzled Christian Louboutin platforms.

Soon after, Coughlan was in New York City for the premiere of Big Mood alongside co-star Lydia West in a black Roland Mouret gown, accessorized with a Haute Cuir belt and statement earrings from celeb-beloved designer Misho Designs.

And then, the pièce de résistance. On April 12, Coughlan walked the red carpet at a Bridgerton event in what can only be described as a literal masterpiece — a custom gold breastplate from Misho Designs.

What makes Coughlan’s fashion moments so A+ is the fact that while these looks may seem quite different, they actually follow a a pretty specific formula. Coughlan and her stylist Aimée Croysdill seemingly know what work for the actress’s tastes and most likely what she feels best in — and it’s working like dynamite.

The Derry Girls star and Croysdill  gravitate towards structured pieces with strong tailoring at the shoulders or waistline that emphasize and accentuate the actress’s beautiful shape. Through the gauzy textiles, body-defining silhouettes and deep necklines she dons, Coughlan always manages to look like a perfect mix between a Renaissance painting and a thoroughly modern fashion person. Who knew it was possible to look angelic, sensual and fashion forward all at once?

Plus, the duo aren’t afraid to embrace fashun with a capital freakin’ F, with Coughlan consistently serving a full moment both on and off the carpet. This is a pretty big deal, especially considering how historically inaccessible and discriminatory the fashion industry has been to bodies that don’t fit into a sample size.

Part of the allure of Coughlan’s looks is the fact that the actress mixes high and low fashion, popping up in high end designers like Vivienne Westwood and then pivoting to an equally stunning, but more accessibly priced Ganni set, or donning a piece from independent U.K. brand Styland. Part of this might be intentional, with Coughlan and her stylist choosing to mix high-low as a way to showcase accessible looks that can be emulated by fans, but another part of it might be out of necessity, with Coughlan turning to smaller brands like Misho Designs instead of Schiaparelli couture.

Regardless of where the decision comes from, it’s refreshing and necessary to see a plus-size actress so wholly in the limelight unapologetically embrace fashion, and be embraced by the world of high fashion, affirming what we already know: that every body has a place in fashion. (Of course, Coughlan is far from the first public figure with a not-sample-size-body to really lean into high fashion. Just look to models Paloma Elsessser, Ashley Graham and Precious Lee, and actresses like Barbie Ferreira for proof.)

This is Coughlan’s star-making moment, and she’s clearly ready — and dressed — for the occasion.

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