Marina Toybina (‘The Masked Singer’ costume designer) on her ‘artistically explosive’ characters coming to life [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“Seasons 4 and 5 we really tried to push our limits,” says five-time Emmy winner Marina Toybina, the costume designer on Fox’s reality TV competition “The Masked Singer.” “Of course we went into the pandemic mode so it was really being artistically explosive and trying anything and everything we could.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

Toybina was born in Russia and moved to the United States at age 11. For her, one of the most personal costumes this season was the Russian Dolls, occupied by pop trio Hanson. “It was so incredible to be able to finally get the chance to do that,” she reveals. “It was an idea that was floating around since Season 2. Of course it was done as a one-off and the original artwork had this giant, massive doll. With the proper casting and having the Hanson brothers on the show, it was finally the right moment for us to do something that we could really play on the idea of the Russian nesting doll and figure out ways to detour the audience.”

Part of fun for Toybina is seeing her work come to life through the celebrities who commit to their characters. “The whole concept of this show is pretty incredible,” she explains. “It’s very liberating. You’re becoming these amazing characters and I try to make sure all of my costumes tell stories. So there’s more to it than just the performance. There’s the visual stimulation. I’ve also done many things where I’ve made things very custom, whether there are certain hints within the costume or even inside the costume I was able to put something very personal in there. It’s always telling a story and that’s when they become very attached. They become these storytellers on stage.”

One of the the most surprising performances in Season 5 came from R&B singer Omarion when he decided to rollerblade in his Yeti costume. “I was so excited!” Toybina exclaims. “I think I had a slight panic attack when I heard the idea floating around. But to have a professional know that they can pull this off made us become such a big team. We’re gonna take the blades, match them to the costume and rework everything so that still becomes the character that we’ve seen and fell in love with. I’m all for creativity and thinking outside the box. If he can do it, I can do it!”

Toybina has won five Emmys for her costume designs to date, all for different variety programs or specials: “The X-Factor” (2012), “The 55th Annual Grammy Awards” (2013), “So You Think You Can Dance” (2014), “Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show Starring Katy Perry” (2015) and “The Masked Singer” (2020). “I’m so proud of my team,” she gushes. “I look at all these wins as us doing it as one amazingly creative department. The people that I’ve had the opportunity to work with have been the highlight of my career.”

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