A Journey through Wes Anderson’s Color Palettes

A Journey through Wes Anderson’s Color Palettes

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Words by Mirabella Shahidullah
May 7, 2021

Renowned for his dreamlike aesthetics and rhythmic narrative tone, Wes Anderson is what some might call a modern day auteur. Inspired by the cinematic movement of the French New Wave, Anderson’s distinct style has captured the imagination of audiences and critics alike for more than two decades.

It is no surprise that news of the upcoming release of his latest film, The French Dispatch, has us waiting on the edge of our seats. Scheduled for release last year at the Cannes Film Festival, disruptions and uncertainty caused it to be pulled from the line-up, which happened again when it was postponed for the second time last autumn. However, it seems that the wait won’t be for long: Cannes has announced that the movie will officially be showed at the festival this Summer.

Like many of his works, The French Dispatch features an ensemble cast consisting of actors like Benicio Del Toro, Timothée Chalomet, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux among the director’s usual collaborators such as Willem Dafoe, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody and Angelica Huston. Set in a fictionalized French town in the 20th century, the picture has been described as a kind of love letter to journalists and is partly inspired by Anderson’s own love for The New Yorker.

Undoubtedly, The French Dispatch will show Anderson’s inventive spirit through his colorfully curated sets. After all, Anderson’s taste has influenced more than just the cinematic world; in 2015 he was asked to redesign the Bar Luce at the Fondazione Prada in Milan.

With an atmosphere that reflects a typical Milanese café, the restyled bar is a place of distinctive glamour and retro coolness. With vintage-inspired displays, mid-century light fixtures and antique pinball machines, its character is undisputedly Anderson.

Wes Anderson redesigned Bar Luce, the cafe at Fondazione Prada.

Speaking about his inspirations behind the project, the director mentioned that interior design has always been a major influence in his personal and professional life, “As a child I wanted to become an architect, so for me this was a perfect moment where I could pretend to be one.” He explained, “While I do think it would make a pretty good movie set, I think it would be an even better place to write a movie. I tried to make it a bar I would want to spend my own non-fictional afternoons in.”

Anderson and Style, a Color Comparison

A master at telling stories with unique visuals, Wes Anderson is renowned for his carefully crafted sets and meticulous eye for design. As we wait for the release of his latest film, our editors have hand-picked eyewear styles that evoke the color palettes of Anderson’s cinematography.

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Offbeat yet sentimental, The Darjeeling Limited is about letting go of your baggage, literally. Starring Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman as three estranged brothers, the film narrates the men’s attempts to reconnect while travelling across India on a train. Playfully colorful, Bottega Veneta BV1088 sunglasses embody the movie’s saturated color scheme with their translucent tones of blue. Featuring a statement shape, these shades recall Anderson’s appreciation for the avant-garde.

Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)

Marking Wes Anderson’s first foray into stop-motion animation, Fantastic Mr. Fox’s charm comes alive in the rich, autumnal color palette. Based on the Roald Dahl children’s book of the same name, the film is characterized by its playful characters, old-school nostalgia and classical storytelling. The rich honey yellow of Lesca’s Ogre Sun reminds us of the story’s key color notes, from Bean’s ‘melted gold’ cider to the orange shagginess of the Fox family’s fur.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Set on a fictional island off the coast of New England in 1965, Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of Suzy and Sam, two twelve-year-olds who fall in love and run away together. Imbued with the certain melancholy of young love, the picture is filled with vintage-inspired silhouettes, from Suzy’s pink shift dress to Sam’s green scout suit. Largely set outdoors, the color palette’s earthy green colors remind us of Matsuda’s M3086 sunglasses. Delicately elegant, the glasses' antique gold rims, sage green frames and geometric style radiate the same stylish confidence as Anderson’s coming-of-age adventure.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Exploring themes of friendship, loyalty and nostalgia in post-war Europe, The Grand Budapest Hotel chronicles the history of a once luxurious hotel and the early years of the main character, who worked at the hotel as a lobby boy. In place of lighter tones, this film is filled with striking reds, pinks and purples, colors so saturated that the scenes have a touch of the surreal. Like Anderson, Ray Ban’s RB3669 sunglasses tell a story with color; featuring pastel pink lenses and gold toned rims, this model is reminiscent of the picture’s sugary sweet tones.

Isle of Dogs (2018)

As Anderson’s second stop-animation feature film, Isle of Dogs has the same quirky characters as the previous Fantastic Mr. Fox. Animals are just as important in this story centered around a boy who travels to an island to save his beloved dog. While most scenes use darker tones of reds, grays and blacks, it's the striking pastel moments that highlight the director’s fascination with colors. Scenes with buttery yellows and bubble gum pinks further remind us of the own two-tone contrasts of Gucci GG0903 sunglasses. Similar to Anderson’s approach to filmmaking, this model blends strong frames with soft colors, showcased by the glasses’ pink and yellow rims and light brown, oversized lenses.

Creative Direction: Daniela Vutera

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