In Palm Royale’s Season Finale, ’60s Couture Takes Center Stage

By Carolyn Twersky | May 9, 2024

The series’s costume designer talks dressing Kristen Wiig, Allison Janney, and Carol Burnett for the event of the season.

Palm Royale has been teasing Norma Dellacorte’s famed Palm Beach Beach Ball since episode one of Apple TV+’s new bubblegum-pink, late ’60s-set comedy. Planning snafus left and right had the audience rooting for the party’s eventual success—as well as that of Maxine Dellacorte Simmons’s (Kristen Wiig). Luckily, gumption and some unrivaled luck allowed Maxine to pull through, and after nine episodes of wooden platforms, pleated caftans, and the most deliciously bright patterns we’ve seen on TV in years, it’s finally time for the Beach Ball.

On the season finale of Palm Royale, which aired May 8, Palm Beach society gathered at the Dellacorte mansion for the event of the season (both the social and television variety), pulling out their best looks from Grayman’s Palm Beach couture house so as not to be upstaged by other haughty socialites in attendance. Of course, these beautiful vintage gowns don’t just appear out of thin air—they require research, sourcing, and oftentimes full recreations to transform them from figures of fashion’s past to wearable gowns for the small screen. Below, we talked with Alix Friedberg, costume designer of Palm Royale, about stepping into the world of Palm Beach circa 1969, turning Allison Janney into a showgirl, and the Givenchy dress that inspired Kristen Wiig’s best look of the whole show.

You said in an interview that Palm Royale was “the most exciting, joyful project” you’d ever worked on. What about the show specifically brought you so much delight?

I think it was the color, the ’60s of it all, the rarefied air, the ability to call on vintage couture, the comedy, and the group of actors involved. They are people I have admired for such a long time. It checked every single box for me creatively and emotionally.

You’ve mostly worked on contemporary projects. How are those different compared to working on a period piece?

I do research no matter what project I’m working on—contemporary, period, sci-fi. You need to find your inspiration somewhere. But when you’re working in period, you do have constraints because you want to be as correct as you possibly can to what happened in that particular time and place. So there are limitations on what you can do. At the same time, in the late ’60s, the shackles were off for fashion designers. It was just an explosion of creativity and color and pattern. The introduction of synthetic fibers opened up a whole new world.

Where did that research begin for Palm Royale?

We started boots on the ground at Western Costume Research Library. They have an unbelievable archive of fashion magazines from all periods. We were looking at Vogue and McCall’s and Town & Country, trying to be specific for Palm Beach, Florida, and that demographic. We also looked at a lot of photography from that era. Slim Aarons is obviously a huge influence on the whole show. So we took some of the socialites he photographed and dove deeper into their lives.

Which socialites, specifically, were your inspirations?

Each woman had their own North Star. Betsy Bloomingdale was a big one for Evelyn (Janney). We also looked at Marjorie Merriweather for Norma (Carol Burnett), as well as Elizabeth Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck. For Linda (Laura Dern), a character that represented a more realistic version of what was really happening in 1969—the hippie, macramé kind of feminist girl, who was more Jane Fonda and Jane Birkin.

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