Murray Bartlett as Armond, frantic resort hotel manager and recovering addict
Maui, Hawaii, Summer 2020
Series: The White Lotus
Episode: “Arrivals” (Episode 1.01)
Air Date: July 11, 2021
Director: Mike White
Creator: Mike White
Costume Designer: Alex Bovaird
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
This week, the Primetime Emmy Award nominations were announced, with HBO’s limited series The White Lotus tied with Ted Lasso for the second-most nominations (20), behind only Succession‘s staggering 25 nominations. Most of The White Lotus‘ cast was nominated in the acting categories, with Murray Bartlett emerging as a favorite for his performance as Armond, the obsequious and increasingly distressed manager of the eponymous Hawaiian resort.
Though Bartlett has been acting for more than three decades, The White Lotus provided a long-overdue breakthrough role for the Australian-born actor, whose performance has already been recognized with well-deserved AACTA and Critics’ Choice awards.
“We wanted that character to be larger than life, but we didn’t ever want it to feel untethered from reality,” Bartlett explained to InStyle about Armond, joining much of the cast in adding praise for creator Mike White, who rose to the challenge of crafting a series with a limited cast in a single location to be produced within the initial height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The White Lotus premiered one year ago this week, beginning with a mysterious crate labeled “HUMAN REMAINS” being loaded onto an airplane under the brooding watchful eye of Shane Patton, one of the resort’s most spoiled guests, played to perfection by the also-nominated Jake Lacy. We then flashback to a week earlier as Shane, his newlywed wife Rachel (Alexandra Daddario), and fellow guests arrive to a reception led by Armond, resentfully grinning and waving alongside his staff.
“You have to treat these people like sensitive children,” Armond informs the trainee Lani (Jolene Purdy), and there’s no reason why he should yet suspect that this hospitality season will be any more tortuous than the usual. Indeed, the five-years-sober Armond has never met a guest whose caprices he couldn’t accommodate… until Shane, whose entitled frustrations with a booking error ignites a flame of pettiness that escalates into an all-out war fought with passive-aggressive phone calls, pineapple-carving knives, and ketamine-fueled excrement.
What’d He Wear?
Alex Bovaird, Brian Sprouse, and Eileen Stroup have also been nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Contemporary Costumes for their work in The White Lotus‘ first episode, “Arrivals”, in which their thoughtful costume design instantly inform the viewers of who we’ll be meeting, from Shane’s frat-tastic Polo-branded polos and Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge) in her dramatic monkey-print caftan to the wannabe-thrifted looks sported by the haughty teens Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) and Paula (Brittany O’Grady).
“It’s beachy casual,” Armond instructs Lani of the White Lotus staff dress code and standards. “Always presentable, with a clean look.” For Armond, this means a de facto uniform of floral-printed open-neck shirts worn with colorful linen suits, always with a lapel pin depicting—what else?—a white lotus.
According to Matthew Jacobs’ Vanity Fair interview with her, Bovaird was inspired by Elvis Presley’s style in Blue Hawaii to seek tropical-printed shirts for Armond. To Tanya Mehta of Grazia, Bovaird elaborated that, “[Armond’s] shirts resemble the ‘Aloha’ variety indigenous to Hawaiian culture, we updated them to exude a Paul Smith-ie vibe via the floral prints.” The hotelier’s quartet of shirts were sourced from Bar III, Paul Smith, Ted Baker, and Tommy Bahama, with the only true Hawaiian-made shirt—a colorful printed Reyn Spooner shirt—worn in the final episode and meeting a fate that may well fit into the series’ overall statement on the impact of colonialism.
Worn with his pink linen suit, Armond’s first shirt is patterned in an all-over light blue floral print against a white ground. The design more closely resembles a dress shirt rather than the loose and casual aloha shirt, structured with a spread collar, plain button-up front, and long sleeves finished with button-fastened barrel cuffs.
“I picked linen for a couple of reasons,” Bovaird explained to Grazia. “We wanted him to wear a suit so that he constantly feels stifled and suffocated by what he’s doing, the jacket also lends itself to the formality of his role. By its nature, linen crumples quickly so when he starts to unravel, we liked the idea of him looking drenched and wrinkly in his clothing.” Of course, the light-wearing linen would also provide the benefit of keeping Armond cool while hustling through a tropical resort.
At the outset, Armond looks as bright and cheery as the image he hopes to present to guests in his rose pink linen suit. Shaped with front darts, the single-breasted jacket has notch lapels of moderate width, a welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, and a single vent. The two buttons on the front and the four-button cuffs are made from an off-white pearl-effect plastic that provides a dressed-down contrast consistent with Armond’s “beachy casual” philosophy. Ever the dutiful majordomo, Armond always wears his nameplate pinned to his left breast, in this case positioned over the welt of his breast pocket.
The matching flat front trousers have a medium-to-low rise, with straight pockets positioned along the side seams and almost certainly two back pockets as seen on Armond’s other suit trousers. He holds them up with a plain brown leather belt that closes through a silver-toned single-prong buckle.
Armond wears cognac-brown leather semi-brogue oxford shoes, detailed with a perforated medallion cap-toe, round dark brown laces, and hefty sneaker-style cream-colored rubber outsoles that blend presentability and comfort for a man who spends most of his day on his feet… and moving quickly.
Armond dresses his left wrist with an 18-karat yellow gold Cartier Tank Française, a prestigious watch that evokes the brand of luxury he hopes to provide for guests of the White Lotus while also undeniably reliable enough to keep him on track for his time-sensitive duties.
Though its appearance has become synonymous with elegance, the Cartier Tank was originally designed to resemble the cockpit and treads of an armored vehicle, hence its “Tank” nomenclature. The Cartier Tank went into production in 1919, with several variants introduced over the following decades, including the sportier quartz Tank Française that appeared in the mid-1990s, with a wide-linked bracelet designed to resemble tanks’ caterpillar tracks. Cartier Tank watches are characterized by their square dials with Roman numeral hour markers, chemin de fer chapter ring, blued steel sword-shaped hands, and sapphire crown.
While avoiding spoilers as much as I can, I appreciate the parallels of a final shot from the closing episode, “Departures” (Episode 1.06), featuring Armond’s replacement similarly dressed as he stands aside the staff to welcome the next bunch of guests.
How to Get the Look
“Beachy casual” drives Armond’s philosophy for serving the privileged guests of The White Lotus, consistently dressed in colorful linen suits with floral-printed shirts echoing the aloha shirt of their Hawaiian setting.
- Rose pink linen suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and single vent
- Flat front trousers with belt loops, straight/on-seam side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- White (with light blue floral all-over print) long-sleeved shirt with spread collar, plain front, and button cuffs
- Brown leather belt with silver-toned single-prong buckle
- Cognac-brown leather semi-brogue cap-toe oxford shoes with cream-colored rubber outsoles
- Cartier Tank Française yellow gold watch with white square dial (with Roman numeral hour markers and blued steel hands) on gold three-piece link bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the series, streaming on HBO Max.
You can also read more about The White Lotus‘ costume design from these source articles:
- Grazia: “Paradise Lost: The Vision Behind The Costumes On The White Lotus“ by Tanya Mehta
- Vanity Fair: “Caftans, Goyard, and Elvis: Inside The White Lotus’s Costumes” by Matthew Jacobs
- W: “On The White Lotus, Resort Attire Weaves Its Own Tawdry Tale” by Gabe Bergado