In Conversation with Justine Triet

Last week, we hopped on a zoom with the 2023 Palme d’Or winner, director/co-writer of ‘Anatomy of a Fall,’ the Lemaire legend, Justine Triet. She talks all about her evolved personal style, her very tasteful film festival looks, her sartorial inspiration, and her favorite hand-painted graphic tees. She also touches on the role of 50 Cent's P.I.M.P. during the creative process of her latest film and inspirations behind characters in her previous film, ‘Sibyl.’

Thank you to our friends at NEON for bringing us together and thank you to Justine’s translator, Assia Turquier-Zauberman. Please note that during our conversation Justine switched back and forth between English and French, this interview has been edited for clarity.

Director Fits: How would you describe your personal style?

Justine Triet: For a long time I would sort of put on costumes for ceremonies or I would put on a sort of full heeled panoply which is an effort I no longer make because I found my style now and I no longer want to be perceived as someone who is putting on a costume other than myself of any kind. In an everyday sense I tend to always be going around in pajamas. Not that I don’t like to dress, I do it, I do care but I’m 1.8 meters, I’m very tall and I tend to wear large clothing in a kind of sporty, casual way. I’m not sure what the technical term would be. I think we can call my style as sort of a false negligence. [laughs] But I always wear lipsticks, red lipsticks you know. I’m obsessed, I have many many many many lipsticks. Red. [mhm] 

Justine Triet at the Rome Film Festival (left) + (right) Cannes Film Festival - photos via alamy (2023)

DF: Anatomy of a Fall has been making all the festival rounds and I’ve been studying your looks very closely. Can you break down this uniform you’ve developed through this press run?

JT: Christophe Lemaire lent me many many things right now but I have nothing for myself. I have some t-shirts from Margiela. I like Margiela so much. But, you know, I have a 12 year old daughter and she steals a lot of things from me. So my favorite things are always destroyed by my daughter. Yes, I have one or two jackets that I like very much of course. Chloe gave me a costume for the Palme d’Or, the white costume was Chloe. 

DF: What about the graphic tees you’ve been wearing under your huge double breasted blazers? I’ve noticed you wore a panther at the Palme d’Or acceptance, what’s the significance behind these?

JT: Ah yes! It was G Kero. They lend me many many t-shirts. It’s an artist, a woman who painted the panther shirt. It’s very beautiful because it’s not a print, it’s really painted on. It’s really rare, made in France. It was not a prepared decision, I just had the intuition before the ceremony, I just had to find a t-shirt. I was like which one? It was very funny in the end because many people wrote to me about that after. And I’m obsessed by white t-shirts. I have maybe 15 white t-shirts. There are many things that I can’t wear because I’m very pale, so many things are not good for my skin. I love very sexy things on top but you know I can't wear it so now the t-shirt is for me, yes, with the huge jacket.

JT: I can say to you that my obsession is River Phoenix and a special jacket he wore in the ‘90s. I’m obsessed with that jacket and I haven’t found it because it’s from the ‘90s. I can send you a picture. I’m obsessed with this jacket and all that he wears. I was a teenager in the ‘90s so Nirvana and Kurt Cobain was my idol. The more I’m getting older, it’s a cliche you know, my daughter makes fun of me about that. “Why do you wear some teenager things, it’s ridiculous for you.” [laughs]

DF: Aside from River Phoenix, did you have any other style heroes? Were any of them directors?

JT: Yes, I love Gena Rowlands’ style in every Cassavetes movie. You know a little, how do you say uh, hippie style. Cassavetes has this big crocheted yellow jumper with big buttons that I’ve also screenshotted and been looking for myself but I’ve failed to find. I love Alice Diop and I love Rebecca Zlotowski even though Rebecca and I have very different bodies and so I think one sort of has to style oneself according to ones body type and she can go into glamorous or ‘50s ways that I can’t afford but I really really love. I think in terms of identifying with my body and my style, Jane Campion might be more up my alley. It’s not very original but I’m also obsessed with light or white jeans which are quite hard to find and I’m sorry it’s very much in the same influence of Nirvana and that kind of generation.

A collage of Justine Triet's sartorial references

Justine Triet with cast and crew during the production of 'Anatomy of a Fall' (2023) photo by Cynthia Arra

DF: Sandra Huller plays a director in your previous film, Sybil. Were you looking inward when writing for this character? 

JT: I made her kind of a crazy character so when writing her I didn’t really have myself in mind hopefully. She did say she imitated me quite a lot when she was on set so that was kind of funny. In terms of the outfits, we have very different body types so she was wearing things that were much more fitted to hers that I could never wear but also stylistically she was better dressed than I’ll ever be on set. She had red lipstick, she asked me before the set, she goes “Ok Maren Ade, the German director, always wears red lipstick” because it was a way to not be too negligent in front of actors and to have a certain tone. Even when I’m very lazy with everything, I always have my lipstick on set to say ok we are here.

DF: Can you elaborate on how 50 Cent’s P.I.M.P. snuck its way into your latest film?

JT: In the ‘90s I was listening to a lot of rap and I was close to people who were in the know about what was happening in rap especially in American rap so it wasn’t something I was sourcing directly myself, I was hanging out with people who were exposing me to a lot of that. It was very present for me sonically. Of course, P.I.M.P. is not the most niche song of them all but this particular version I had in my computer for over 3 years, one of my best friends had given it to me. I thought it was interesting the way it invoked the memory of the original but also this kind of difficult to place culturally what the cover does. I like something about that to represent this relationship and to be the voice of this character who we’re gonna know nothing about who’s about to die and who’s only proposition we see in real time is this song. At the time I was looking at other songs, maybe some Daft Punk, but all of these seemed too hyped for me. I like the ways in which this cover in its strangeness was referring to something well known but wasn’t as hype in the same way. It’s difficult to put words exactly in how music makes its way into the creative process, it's so atmospheric, some of it is a bit of a mystery. The melody is perfect, it’s classical in a way. It’s very interesting to have a new version of it. It’s like Mozart. When you put it on a loop it works, you can hear it for a long time. When I’m driving with my baby, she’s obsessed with that song. She puts her head on the chair with the rhythm. She just wants to hear only rap songs.

DF: Thank you, Justine!

JT: Welcome!

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