Fashion Talk
Marylin Fitoussi

Marylin Fitoussi

Costumer Designer
Netflix Show - Emily In Paris

50% of the costumes in Emily in Paris are pre-loved 

Netflix’s renowned show Emily in Paris’s costume designer Marylin Fitoussi is known for depicting stories through character’s outfits and styling. In an interview with Kiran Sahija, the designer discusses French culture as well as current trends and style suggestions for a basic day.  

Fibre2Fashion : Where are you based and how would you describe fashion in your country? 

Marylin Fitoussi:

I have been based in Paris for the past five years. Earlier, I used to live in Mexico, and I adore that country. People are nice. They are people who like colour and print. It's like India, we love colours. But I would like to be in Paris for the moment. Honestly, I am enjoying it. It’s amazing. In Mexico, it’s difficult to find very nice fabrics, and it is very difficult to get clothes from Europe and is very expensive too. But you find very interesting young designers who do interesting things without good fabrics. They are really creative, and I love the way they use some very precise things from their own culture and remix them in a modern way.

Fibre2Fashion : How did you start your career in fashion? Was being a costume designer pre-decided?

Marylin Fitoussi:

Since childhood, I loved visualising stories and depicting a story through garments. I started my career 28 years ago doing movies. I was doing period and contemporary movies. 

Fibre2Fashion : How did you discover about Paris and its French culture, and can you shed some light on French fashion and culture?

Marylin Fitoussi:

Paris is supposed to be the capital of fashion, which is less true. You have all the fashion world here, but normal people, for several years, are more casual. French people don’t like colours, they don’t like a lot of prints. They usually love navy blue, black and grey. When you go to fashion week, everybody is well dressed and it is one specific instance. But in general, I find this trip less and less interesting. And people are less well-dressed even when you go to the opera. Earlier, when I was younger, people used to dress for the opera, but now they wear jeans paired with a jacket. And I am very worried about that.

I think everybody needs to break the rule of fashion. So, my message through Emily in Paris is: ‘Do what you like to do.’ Whether you like to mix many prints, or mix colours, or you feel confident with a jacket, do it. Break the rules. People live with the fear of the fashion magazine and follow what’s trending, what’s not trendy, whether it’s in or it’s out. Everyone has their own body, so you need to find pieces and things to fit your body first and after that whether it’s special or not. You should not care. Honestly, you need not follow the rules—it’s my rule number one. So, since I tried experimenting with colours in Emily in Paris, I received many messages from people who say “Oh! we discovered colour with you, and we didn’t know that it can be fun to wear colour, or that we are allowed.” They say, “It’s crazy that you in your own personal life are not allowed to wear colours.” So, it’s very strange and it’s funny to see that brands and fashion houses get very inspired by berets because now they are trying to mix up trends. I saw a lot of red berets in some recent collections. So that is what I love. That sounds amazing.

Fibre2Fashion : How did you manage to grab the opportunity to design for Emily in Paris and how was the experience?

Marylin Fitoussi:

I had a cast like an actor. As a costume designer, we do cast. So, I had a casting with Patricia Field. She is the costume consultant for Emily in Paris, and she chose me because I think she was looking for someone who has a particular style. That’s why when she knew that they would do this series, she was looking for three costume designers in Paris, and I was one of them. I was the one selected for my eclectic style. For me Emily in Paris is not a fashion series; it became something of fashion or trendy or something that people like to go by and get inspired, but for me, it was just telling a story. When you are doing this kind of series, you try to find and to design people who are interesting. So, as there are many actors, everybody needs to have their own personalities which you are looking to make creative because it’s also for the younger audience and when you are watching a series on your iPhone it needs to catch your eyes almost immediately. That’s why everybody is strongly designed. I don’t pretend to be doing fashion and for me it became something very efficient; it was just designing different people in a precise story.

Designing for Emily in Fashion was a very nice experience because I had no limit. I decided to do a bit of what I wanted and to go further to design a strong fit for an extraordinarily strong character. So, it was joyful, playful. After Designing for Emily in Paris, I am now working on a series of Brigitte Bardot. It requires a lot of research regarding the period, reading a script and you decide which kind of costume and clothes your character needs to wear.   

Fibre2Fashion : Emily in Paris was a big break for you as a costume designer?

Marylin Fitoussi:

Yes, but every project is challenging. Emily in Paris appears to be a remarkably successful series, but I have been designing for the last 28 years. In 28 years of my career, this series has been the most popular show that I have done. So, people now imagine that I just started my career with this, but honestly, I have been doing costume designing for a very long time.

Fibre2Fashion : Which character do you adore the most?

Marylin Fitoussi:

I think all of them are like my children. I love them all. Everybody’s different. I had fun from Lily to Ashley. I love to design for Philippine. I feel closer to her, the character of Sylvie because we are basically the same age. So, it’s easier for me to understand the body and that we don’t want to hide it because we are becoming old and the skin and the flesh is not as good as it was. Meanwhile, with Lily, it’s always very joyful because we have a lot of fun, we have no limit and she really embraces the character. She decided that she needed to go as far as we can go. she knew from the beginning that she would be criticised that her style was very eclectic and very unique, but she was supportive and for that reason, it was really a great pleasure to work with her. She’s really focused and she’s really professional and very easy to work with.

Fibre2Fashion : What are your favorite looks from both the seasons of Emily in Paris?

Marylin Fitoussi:

On Emily, the drip with the big bow and the kimono that she was wearing for her birthday from season one. Also, I love when she has the total pink look—pink Louboutin shoes with pink stockings, pink skirt, with jacketing code. The pink look is what I really love. This season, I love all the Julian’s looks as I knew him before the time, so I did have time to design suits for him. So, I really like all the outfits that he is wearing this season.

Fibre2Fashion : As a costume designer, what things are to be kept in mind while designing costumes for a character?

Marylin Fitoussi:

First, you need to read the script. And you need to understand who the character is. So that’s why I’m not interested in brands. I don’t choose Valentino, because it’s Valentino. I chose one dress from Valentino because that dress is helping me to tell my story. That is something that people should know. When you buy something, don’t care about the brand. You have very nice pieces at H&M and Chanel but you shouldn’t buy a brand because it’s a brand. You should find the good pieces for your body, your complexion, your skin tone, your shape, what you are comfortable with which nobody else can decide for you. Fashion magazines cannot decide for you what you should wear or not to wear. It’s your body and you need to find the right proportion for your body, and that’s the most important rule.

It's interesting and I really like that people also think about fashion in a different way. We can use and reuse things and can buy from a secondhand shop as we’re consuming too much. Honestly, I bought 50 percent of the clothes of Emily in Paris from second-hand stores. Lily (Emily) was wearing shoes that were already worn by someone else or I can say pre-loved.   

Fibre2Fashion : Were there any other designers that you collaborated with for the show? 

Marylin Fitoussi:

I wanted to promote many French brands and the French culture because we are in Paris, so we need to promote Paris. But I also wanted to promote Greek designers like Rianna + Nina. I also wanted to promote fashion from not so well-known Greek and Danish designers. I used many Danish designers too. And of course, I used Italian designers like Valentino and Armani. Actually, several brands wanted to collaborate with us, so we were very lucky as we had a lot of options, and it was very nice to collaborate with all of them. I could choose very nice and beautiful pieces for free.

Fibre2Fashion : Where do the costumes go once worn? 

Marylin Fitoussi:

They go to a very secret place. For season two, we had a lot of clothes by couture houses. They sent us a lot of clothes. We pick up from them and send the remaining back. Clothes from the old crew are sent back or to very high-end couture houses. The used costumes are kept in lockers, and I do not know how many of them we have. Netflix wants to keep that way, but my secret dream will be to use them again if I do season three. I’m not sure yet about doing the third season because I am on a huge project, but I would love to re-use the iconic pieces of Emily that she was wearing in season one and to transform them into other pieces for the next season, to record the black and white suit and to make her dress something different. I also assume that the pieces would be exhibited later.

Fibre2Fashion : Can you shed some light on current trends and what to wear on a basic day?

Marylin Fitoussi:

People, especially the younger generation, will go more and more for vintage pieces and true recycling. Secondly, big couture houses like Valentino and Jean Paul Gaultier Couture have their own websites that would print with a larger tool for their pre-born collections. They put online some of their vintage pieces that you can buy or rent. People will be more focused and interested in upcycling in pre-owned / pre-loved.

Style tip for a basic day would be: You need to know what will be your day like, and just listen to your mood. If you’re in a bad mood, try to put something that comforts you. Don’t push yourself around, and just dress the way that you feel. It is appropriate for you and for your life. And you need to feel confident. One looks more beautiful when the person feels confident, no matter whether you are skinny or hefty. You can be voluptuous. Just accept yourself because honestly, everybody is beautiful, and you find that the shape of your body is good too. Everybody can rock and be a star. So be your own star and be your own model.