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Check Out Anne-Aurelie Pillet’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anne-Aurelie Pillet.

Hi Anne-Aurelie, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I go by Lili. I’m a French Costume Designer living in Boyle Heights in LA.

I grew up in Dijon, Burgundy with three siblings. I studied classical music and started to play an instrument from the age of seven. I was lucky enough to be exposed to operas and ballets from an early age which made me want to build a career in that world.

After graduation, I did a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design. I was fascinated by fabrics, colors, materials, shapes and how to combine all of that to tell a story. After my Bachelors, I did multiple competitions and got accepted in the National Theater School in Lyon, France. I did a Masters in Costume Design there where I learned everything technical and theoretical about costumes as well as working within a team of actors, directors, writers, lighting and sound engineers.

During my Masters, I got a scholarship to do an internship in the costume department of the Metropolitan Opera in NYC. It was my first experience in the USA and I remember arriving in the city and how lost and overwhelmed I felt!

I met my future husband there who decided to follow me back to Paris.

I started a new Master in Set Design but got work opportunities and decided to give up school. I did a lot of short films, music videos and worked in a costume rental place specialized in the 18th and 19th centuries before I got my first real gigs in television and films as an assistant and then as a Designer. I also moved to London and worked as a Stylist for commercials.

In 2018 I moved back to the States. I worked for a year in NYC as a Shopper and as an Assistant Costume Designer in Broadway and at the Met. As much as I love New York, my dream was to move to Los Angeles so I finally met my goal and moved in 2019.

I now work as a Union Costumer on television shows and as a Costume Designer and Stylist on indie films and commercials.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I had to start over again every time I moved so nothing was ever a smooth road to me. When I moved to London, I was becoming pretty established in Paris as a Costume Designer. I had already designed my first television show and had a really good network.

Moving to London was difficult because I didn’t know anybody there. I ended up working on my own mostly as a Stylist on commercials and as an assistant on various projects.

Moving to NYC was easier because I had already contacts there and the opera and theater productions in Europe are very linked to NYC productions so I was able to be introduced to friends of friends and I got into the Wardrobe Union right away.

LA is definitely a different world and Covid brought its own challenges as well. I didn’t expect the LA industry to be so compartmentalized and hierarchical. I really had to start from the bottom and it took me two years to get into the Union even though I have been working as a Customer abroad for nearly ten years. I wish the industry was a little bit more flexible because there are a lot of aspects of costuming that I enjoy like distressing, painting but also being on set or a shopper. I enjoy working on big productions as a Costumer but I definitely need to go back to designing on Indie films in between and have my own creative projects on the side.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
My background as a theatrical and opera costumer brought me a lot of technical knowledge than most of the Costume Designers in Hollywood don’t have. In Opera, costumes are built from A to Z inside the costume shop, it’s very similar to Haute Couture. Being a shopper in NYC taught me how to sample and choose fabrics, trims and buttons from a designer’s sketch. I have a strong sensibility to colors and materials. When I design costumes for a film, it’s like a painting I’m creating in my mind. I can see how the characters relate to each other in terms of colors and textures.

I love details and everything that goes on the actor’s body has a meaning in terms of storytelling. I’m more on the introvert side and I believe that costume design allows me to tell stories in a subtle and quiet way. It’s like being an artist in the shadow. My work supports the actors, directors and writer’s visions, it’s a very collaborative process.

What matters most to you?
The story matters the most to me. Sometimes costumes are very simple, they can look like “everyday clothes” even though everything was meticulously chosen for a purpose. It’s not about the clothes per say, costumes only exist to support the story and the performance. The other aspect of the work that matters the most to me is the collaborative process. I need to believe in someone’s vision to be able to work with them and vice versa.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
“Hip Hop Cafe” film directed by Robbie Samuels “The Sea” film directed by Cameron Richards “Tiny Kills” film directed by Rahaleh Nassri “The Way” tv directed by Camille Delamarre “Kobe for Dinner” Jersey Demic music video directed by Anne-Aurelie Pillet Lenovo print ads

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