‘Yellowjackets’: Simone Kessell on How Lottie’s Caftans Reveal Her Character’s Unraveling

SPOILER ALERT: This contains spoilers from Yellowjackets” Season 2, now streaming on Showtime.

Is adult Lottie Matthews OK? That’s the question asked by viewers at the start of Showtime’s “Yellowjackets” Season 2.

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Charlotte, as she calls herself, played by Simone Kessell (“Obi-Wan Kenobi,” “The Night Agent”), runs a “wellness center” or mental health retreat. She seems to be on a path to recovery after teen Lottie and her fellow Yellowjackets survived for 19 months in the wilderness. But, a closer look at Kessell’s character, who clads herself in lush silk caftans, visually reflects her descent into madness through the transition from marigolds and yellow to blue and darker shades.

The caftans are a mood for the leader, who sets herself apart from her followers who all wear “heliotrope.” “It’s not purple,” she specifies.

And as it turns out, Charlotte is not OK. The past is still very much alive and a darker side of Lottie Matthews is eventually revealed as she unravels from zen commune leader to completely unhinged and wants to make a human blood sacrifice to the wilderness.

Kessell worked closely with the show’s costume designer, Amy Parris, to bring the character to life through the caftans. The actress would spend late nights Googling everything from duster jackets to caftans and send them to Parris. Lottie’s wardrobe was a collection of designer chic to custom-made to Free People and even local Australian designers. Lottie’s colors and outfits were a subtle nod to her current mental state. Says Kessell, “We played with so many caftans. As Lottie gets darker and falls apart, we start dropping in velvet.”

But the caftans became important to Kessell and her counterpart, Lottie.

Adds Parris, “Lottie has a Rolex. She’s fancy.” While Lottie doesn’t wear heliotrope-colored fabrics, she wears the lavender hue frequently in accessories. “She wears purple bracelets which we made in-house. They’re amethyst beads that she would wear with almost every change.”

Parris also accessorized Kessell’s look with beautiful pieces of jewelry. Says Kessell, “As the season progresses, I got obsessed [with which finger to put a ring on]. As Lottie got obsessive, Simone became obsessive.”

Kessell breaks down some of adult Lottie’s caftan looks.

Here’s Lottie! (Season 2, Episode 1)

That was so important for the first time we ever see Lottie. She’s so different and we see this woman standing there in all her golden glory. She’s so vain. She loves her moment. She’s like an old actress on stage as the theater darling. She’s embracing her power and sexuality. I wanted to create this golden hue around her, and that felt very majestic.

Grounding Lottie (Season 2, Episode 5)

Simone Kessell as Lottie in YELLOWJACKETS, "Two Truths and a Lie". Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME.
Simone Kessell as Lottie in “Yellowjackets” episode “Two Truths and a Lie.”

That is a Japanese-inspired two-way caftan by a designer in Australia, Kirrily Johnston from Husk. I know her, and I was on Google late at night looking up caftans and velvet duster jackets. I saw that and told her I had seen it. She said, ‘Let me gift it to you. I’ll send it to your costume designer.’

When I entered the fitting, Amy said, “Oh, your friend sent this.” I put it on, and it’s weighted. As soon as you put it on, you feel the grace of it, you feel the weight of the expensive fabric. That was wonderful because I wanted to ground Lottie in that episode because of this conflict between her and Nat. So, when I did that, I wanted something that weighed me down and kept my feet on the ground and that caftan represented that. I felt very strong, stable and present when I put that on.

Lottie’s Changing (Season 2, Episode 6)

Simone Kessell as Lottie in YELLOWJACKETS, "Qui". Photo Credit: Colin Bentley/SHOWTIME.
Simone Kessell in the “Qui” episode

That blue was mesmerizing and it’s visually it’s so stunning because we’d moved out of the golds and yellows. This is the genius of Amy. We started with all these beautiful colors, and the blue now represents going into the dark.

That’s what was great. That’s the middle turning point when she turns around. When we shot that scene, I remember turning around and they were all there. It’s the first time the adult women see Lottie in her world, and day one of the women coming to the compound.

Lauren (Ambrose who plays Van) was there, and we had never worked together, and she went “Oh my God! Wow.” It was a great moment.

Off-Kilter and Unhinged (Season 2, Episode 7 and 8)

Simone Kessell as Lottie in YELLOWJACKETS, "It Chooses". Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME
Simone Kessell in the “It Chooses” episode

I go back and have a little costume change in between the therapy in jeans, fire dancing and saying “Everybody meets me back in the sharing shack.” She changes into this as she presents the tea in it.

It’s off-kilter, as is Lottie. It’s not her go-to color. Even the slip is a charcoal dark grey. It’s symbolic as far as what’s going on for Lottie. It’s blue-grey (by L’Agence) and has pockets, which we had to have so I could have my poison in it. And then, we head into episode nine…

Time for a sacrifice (Season 2, Episode 9)

Simone Kessell as Lottie in YELLOWJACKETS, "Storytelling". Photo Credit: Colin Bentley/SHOWTIME.
Simone Kessell’s yellow velvet duster was off Lottie’s color palette. A reflection of the character’s unraveling.

It’s a yellow velvet duster (from Style Park 1/Etsy.com) with lace. (The grey dress underneath is by L’Agence) It’s very elegant and regal. But it’s also a bit crazy because it’s just off her color palette.

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