The Characters In ‘Palm Royale’ Couldn’t Be More Different, And Their Fashion Choices Prove It

Reading between the fabric.
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Our deep fascination with high society and its fabulous women has had a resurgence as of late, thanks to the likes of Feud: Capote vs. The Swans and, more recently, Palm Royale.

The sparkling new series is a true underdog story, following our heroine Maxine Simmons (Kristen Wiig) as she endeavours to break into Palm Beach high society, no matter the cost.

With an undercurrent theme of mystery and scheming, Maxine urges you to reach out and untangle her web of lies – which is utterly reminiscent of Salburn’s Oliver Quick and his devious ways.

She’s not the only one with a secret, however, as Wiig’s character is joined by an ensemble cast, including Allison Janney, Ricky Martin, Josh Lucas, Leslie Bibb, Amber Chardae Robinson and Kaia Gerber, who each bring to the screen a character as intriguing as the next.

palm royale fashion
Image: Apple TV+

It’s here we turn to the fashion choices – put together by series costume designer Alix Friedberg – to unravel these colourful yet elusive people.

From the colour schemes to the over-the-top accessories, there are little Easter eggs to be found that will bridge the gap between us, the mere viewer, and them, these untouchable and unattainable women of Palm Beach.

“Alix worked with the actresses to find these women and find a colour palette that evoked the most out of this character,” Katie O’Connell Marsh, executive producer of Palm Royale, tells marie claire Australia.

“It was really a collaboration between Alix and the actresses in terms of what made them feel good, what made them feel the most like their character.”

Take Dinah Donahue (Bibb) for example, who is a little icier than her fellow society pals, which is reflected in her endless wardrobes of whites and sterile blues.

palm royale Allison Janney
Image: Apple TV+

On the other hand, we have Evelyn Rollins (Janney) who was often referred to as being a “peacock” amongst the crew, which we see quite evidently in the series.

“All of her colour schemes are peacock themes, and Jon Carlos [production designer] takes that and fills her bourgeois full of stuffed birds,” Katie says.

“So then the writers are now inspired to write that as, ‘okay, she collects birds’,” she adds. “There’s amazing transfers of energy.”

On the other end of the spectrum lies the “feminists”, who are much more groovy with their style choices, often spotted in denim, wood, macrame and natural fibres in warm, earthy tones.

Among those women is tough-as-nails Virginia, brought to the screen by Amber Chardae Robinson, who represents the other side of the coin of high society, bringing attention to real issues happening at the time.

palm royale Amber Chardae Robinson
Image: Apple TV+

Set in the late 60s, the series touches on deeper issues like human rights, classism and racial equality – the latter of which resonates deeply with Robinson.

“I found it interesting to explore what it was like being a feminist in 1969 as an African American woman because we tend to struggle with finding inclusivity within the feminist movement,” she tells us.

“I was curious about what that looked like in 1969 for someone who looked like me in an environment that did not reflect my experiences.”

Throughout the series, we see her character deal with “women from all walks of life” as she and her partner-in-crime Linda Shaw, played by the brilliant Laura Dern, run a feminist movement disguised as a bookstore.

“You’re trying to be a beacon of light for these women and show them that there are opportunities for them to be independent and have full autonomy, which I found so intriguing,” Robinson adds.

palm royale Kristen Wiig Amber Chardae Robinson
Image: Apple TV+

The series expertly balances those deeper issues with the art of comedy, which Robinson has perfected thanks to a piece of advice she picked up in grad school.

“One of my professors gave me one of the biggest nuggets for acting, which is when it comes to comedy, you as the person that’s playing this comedy take it completely seriously,” she explains. 

“This is a serious circumstance to me. So it may be funny to you, but [Virginia] really thinks Maxine is a doofus and she loathes her in the beginning. 

“She represents a group of people that just don’t see people that look like me. It’s not that they don’t know that we exist. They refuse to see us and acknowledge us for everything that we embody. So she really didn’t have the mental capacity for her.”

Palm Royale airs on Apple TV+ in Australia. Subscribe here with a 7-day free trial to start streaming.

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