Inspiration: the dark pastels of The White Lotus


Watch that before you read. The most beautiful title sequence of my life, I think. I’ve never skipped through a White Lotus intro.

Something about series two really massaged my brain. The colours are incredible, the scenes are pervy and odd, in a pastoral setting.

The frescoes are an amalgamation from Villa Tasca in Palermo, but fucked with by illustrator Lezio Lopes. The same artist (and studio) created the wallpaper in season one’s florid, floral credits.

Those were more subtle, I think. Season two begins with very classical scenes, but quickly descends into second-circle debauchery. People are peering and peeing and preening and perving like nobody’s business.

Studio: Plains Of Yonder

Symbolism aside (we’re pretty but dumb around here), what I love are the colours. These colours are a pastel fever dream and I want to live in them. They’re almost nursery colours, but sun-aged and sultry. Spoiled.

Studio: Plains Of Yonder

Everything is tinged with twilight. It’s not a morning’s flush in the sky – this is a tired day coming to an end, with the promise of darkness just around the corner. The shadows are long and mischief is being made.

There’s a trope in Dutch Golden Age still life paintings where an artist will paint fruit and flowers at the very bursting heights of their scent and beauty, but hint at the rot that comes just after the peak. A fly on an apple, a single dead leaf.

Laurens Craen, Still life with imaginary view, circa 1645
Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Still life, 1645

It’s a memento mori, and perhaps The White Lotus is the same: a reminder that you cannot have the abundant feast without the creeping rot.

Styling The White Lotus

In season two of The White Lotus, there are very few redeemable characters. Even the ‘good guy’ is really a reply guy, resentful of how nice he’s been for no reward.

A beautiful hotel, on a beautiful island. But that rot…it lurks just beneath the pastel blue waves, waiting to swallow the sun whole, like a dripping peach.

Dolce e Gabbana was in great evidence throughout the series (particularly Harper’s bustier top in her Monica Vitti-inspired scene) and, even without that, would be the first name I thought of. Their dark florals and baroque gold filigree ARE a mysterious Sicilian villa.

But one other name springs to mind when I watch the opening titles: Blumarine. To me, Blumarine has an arch awareness to it. They may be all babydolls and maribou, but they’re also seduction and sarcasm. Insouciant excess. A fashion house for ruined heiresses.

Just perfect for The White Lotus.

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