Nicola Coughlan On Going From Derry Girl to Fashion Plate

Nicola Coughlan is a rare gem. Magnetic in front of the camera (watch that woman smize!) and super smart, yet refreshingly normal, the Bridgerton star caught up with Vogue at the Kate Spade Cabana pop-up in London’s Covent Garden. Swinging by to cut the ribbon in a deckchair-striped summer dress with excellent sleeves, Coughlan is all pink lipped smiles and professionalism. This year, she shares, will be the one she finally embraces summer style.

She’s off to a good start. Coughlan’s color-pop handbag reminds her of the first designer bag she bought when she finished shooting season one of the bodice-ripping period drama that catapulted her to global fame. The pink quilted style detailed with a red heart spawned a Coughlan tradition, whereby she marks the end of each project with a great handbag. “When you work hard for something, it’s a real sense of achievement,” shares Nicola, adding that she has since built a shelf for all her “babies”.

Bumper sunglasses also define Coughlan’s style. “I’m still in the Rachel Zoe and Nicole Richie-era of sunglasses,” she laughs. “My stylist [Aimée Croysdill] always tries to get me in small ones, but I’m not Kendall Jenner enough to pull them off!”

Her collaboration with Croysdill works because they challenge each other. They met when Coughlan’s star as Penelope Featherington was ascending and her relationship with fashion had begun to change, thanks to all those hours watching garments come to life in the Bridgerton costume department. “I think I used to be quite intimidated by [the industry], it sort of robbed me of confidence,” explains Coughlan, who has previously spoken out about the internet having opinions on the way she looks. “I thought, I really enjoy this, so why am I not bringing it into my real life?

Soon the world that once seemed foreign opened its arms to the Irish actor, with invites to the Met Gala (“It was wild!”), Valentino ballgowns at BAFTA and Simone Rocha-clad nights at Vogue parties. “Aimée and I just have so much fun together,” says the small-screen personality partial to head-turning block color and a dash of the whimsical. “If I feel good, then everything else is irrelevant. Other people don’t have to like the looks – that’s totally fine.”

Fashion, however, has truly fallen for this always-cheerful talent who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. And this, in some ways, is just the beginning. Bridgerton season three will see Coughlan take the lead, as the Netflix success story shines a spotlight on the will-they-won’t-they romance between Penelope and Colin. “I’m excited and terrified… every emotion that’s possible really,” she says of prepping to start the seven-month filming process, which she likens to shooting four movies back to back.

For now, there’s an elderflower cocktail in the Kate Spade Cabana, a seasonal concept celebrating escapism and wanderlust, to enjoy and summer in London to look forward to. From her tales of hanging out with Cardi B at the Met Gala after-party to spilling the beans on the recent heartbreaking Derry Girls finale, something tells us she’ll be holding court at everything she’s RSVPing yes to. She might be a winter girl at heart, but Nicola Coughlan certainly looks – and feels – the part.

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