Marylin Fitoussi will be styling the next Tranoï Womens campaign. FashionNetwork.com met her in Milan, where she was taking part in a meeting with five young designers organised by the production company The Dark Candy, which works to bring the worlds of fashion and costume design closer together. For 30 years, the French costume designer behind the famous series Emily in Paris has been active in the film industry – in recent years she has dressed the characters in the films Kaamelott: The First Chapter and Valérian. She tells us about the importance of series and their growing influence on fashion consumers, as well as her not-always-easy relationship with brands.
FashionNetwork.com: What is your relationship with fashion brands?
Marilyn Fitoussi: At first, brands ignored us. Nobody wanted to work with us. After our success, there was a sort of curiosity. As the series came out during the lockdown period, there was a champagne bubble effect which, we thought, would fade once the Covid period was over. But that never happened. The project grew and turned into something very fashionable, influencing consumers. From season 3 onwards, clothing really became important.
FNW: Would you say that the series set some trends?
MF: In spite of myself! Several viewers have told us that they changed their look after watching Emily in Paris, finally daring to wear bright colours and outfits that were closer to their personalities. All I’ve done is teach people to free themselves from shackles and must-haves, to express themselves more freely by dressing as they wish. I try to create silhouettes that are pretty to look at, inspiring and innovative. Of course, it has to fit in with the character’s psychology.
FNW: How do you select the brands?
MF: I don’t choose a brand. I choose clothes. I’m not there to shop, but to create a look based on a concept, a story, a morphology. I select the piece that will help me tell a story, whether it comes from a label or a small designer. I get my supplies from all over, from shops, flea markets, vintage and second-hand. Not forgetting the web. I’m an online shopping addict!
FNW: Brands are fighting to appear in Emily in Paris, how do you explain this success?
MF : Series are a very buoyant market. They are watched by millions of people and they inspire people. I realised that this series was particularly important for young brands. It has an impact.
FNW: How do you work with brands?
MF: We ask brands for loans or collaborations. But I don’t do product placement. Some brands don’t want to collaborate with this series because they think it’s too commercial. I respect their choice. Others are jostling for the position. If the piece I’m offered fits in with the DNA of the series and helps to build the character, I’ll take it. If it doesn’t, I turn it down. I have total freedom and I’m lucky that the production team backs me up completely.
FNW: Do you ever turn down major houses?
MF : When a brand asks me, for example, to dress actors in their total look, I categorically refuse. I don’t do it. It’s only happened to me once with a label I discovered on the Internet. It was the Polish designer Magda Butrym, who had made a whole ensemble with incredible flowers, including the boots! I also refuse labels that want to know in advance which other brands their clothes will be associated with.
FNW: What happens to the clothes used in the series?
MF : The clothes that are loaned out are returned. The others are kept in a secret place as archives.
FNW: How do you think the relationship between film and fashion has evolved?
MF: I don’t know if the relationship between fashion and film has really changed. It’s more the platforms that have changed things. They are creating more and more content to mix the two worlds of fashion and film. If you think about it, series from the 1980s like Dynasty were already part of this logic. Society has changed too. This very strong link between fashion and film has been amplified by social networking. Before, designers were inspired by fashion, by the catwalks. Now they’re inspired by TV series.
FNW: In this context, how would you say the profession of costume designer has evolved?
MF: It’s very surprising to see how our profession has suddenly become the central element of series. In a way, we’ve become the new influencers.
FNW: How do you see fashion today?
MF: I don’t watch much of it. But I scan all the catwalks for details, colours and the season’s trends and avoid them. For Emily in Paris, I need to create timeless looks. The series, which spans ten years, can’t be dated. It’s set in the 2020s, but we’re not really in touch with the socio-political reality of the moment. So anything fashionable is out. In fact, creating contemporary looks is much more complicated than making period costumes. This year, what I saw on the catwalks seemed a bit sad. The woman’s body is forgotten under slightly oversized volumes. The catwalks have become shows. People go to see the celebrities more than the clothes.
FNW: How would you define your style?
MF: Eclectic, colourful, daring. I love colour and prints, which comes from my background as a textile designer.
FNW: Do you sometimes feel that you’ve given the fashion world a big kick in the teeth?
MF: Yes, but it’s paid me back in spades!
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