IIf pandemic television has doubled as a mood board for the trendy looks we crave, HBO’s The White Lotus, Mike White’s mind-blowing six-part drama about tourists in a luxury retreat, does the opposite. His sharply drawn ensemble of grand puppet poshos has been dressed in a whip-clever sense of satire.
Since Succession, television has not created such a perfect visual wardrobe moment for members of the 1%.
“I’m a huge Succession fan and I think the costume design is supreme,” says the show’s costume designer Alex Bovaird, “(it’s) much more cohesive than in The White Lotus, the characters are more controlled. Our show is chaotic and everyone is on vacation, so I wanted to have that energy in the clothes. “
For the research, he looked at how people dressed in luxurious places like Palm Beach and the Bahamas (the show was filmed on the island of Maui in Hawaii). Bovaird also studied the American versions of Tatler. “I looked at society magazines,” he says, “America has a lot of trade magazines in specific locations, like Hamptons magazine.”
This rich “chaos energy” that points to trouble in shangri is deeply felt in the huge stylistic range of colors, prints, logos and accessories used throughout the show.
Comedy legend Jennifer Coolidge is Tanya, a complicated woman who is mourning the death of her mother. Coolidge plays it with subtle hilarity and Big Melania Energy. Bovaird wanted a garment that expressed Tanya perfectly, and what better than a caftan to signal opulence? “Kaftans have a lot of drama and they’re elegant, feminine, and so is Tanya,” she says. For her, the garment gave it a “luxurious and exotic” air that gives off a smell of Mar-a-Lago. “Kaftans remind me of a similar time to Gatsby, so it seemed right to try them with such a rich and fun character.”
Meanwhile, grumpy Gen Z friends Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) and Paula (Brittany O’Grady) are dressed in deceptively messy clothes. “She wanted her ideologies to be reflected a little bit in her clothing choices. Whether it’s subtle in the way they wear a lot of thrift store clothing, consciously avoiding a lot of fast fashion, being haughty and mindful of climate change. “
Bovaird dressed the duo in a deliberately humorous, post-Man Repeller fashion. “I think social media has surely made young people more aware of their fashion choices,” he says. To that end, many of its graphic covers have a double meaning. The “post-hope” hoodie Paula wears is a “nod to Obama’s t-shirt from that time when everything seemed to be on the rise. It’s also a riff on the later truth that (was) sadly coined at this time as well.”
Olivia’s Bardo sweatshirt is a joke about the possibility of them going to BARD (a small liberal arts college). “(It is) also appropriate that Bardo is a state between one world and the next, alluding to the purgatory in which they feel they are.”
Olivia’s mom Nicole, played by Connie Britton, cleverly makes “rich mom” traffic lights through her hats and bracelets. “I was inspired by the perfect combination of Gwyneth Paltrow,” says Boviard. Relaxed vacation and ready to take care of business. “She has organic cotton dresses for the day, elegant suits for dinner, two Louis Vuitton bags (one for her laptop). And he also has his collection of Piaget jewels ”.
In its most basic form, The White Lotus works because it is delightful to see a group of people on vacation. “I think The White Lotus is a challenging and complex program that works on many levels,” says Boviard, “but escapism is very welcome.”
The White Lotus is available to watch on HBO / Sky Atlantic.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism