San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Underground Boutique Dares to Be Different

The sign is the most unrecognizable feature of Marilyn Boutique. It’s more likely that a passerby strolling past the downtown San José store would notice the ominous Goth music drifting out of the dimly lit boutique with unconventionally dressed mannequins in its windows.

With the slogan “Atrévete a ser diferente” (“Dare to be different”), Marilyn Boutique, which opened in October, aims to inspire people to “listen to and follow (their) own creative energy, go beyond what’s normal,” says the store’s owner, Malgorzata “Gosia” Duszak.

“I’ve always been creative in how I express myself, and fashion, for me, is like an art,” Duszak says. “I basically wanted to inject some imagination and creativity into people’s minds.”

Both imagination and creativity are evident in the store’s decor. Chandeliers hang from the ceiling, the entire middle section of which is covered by a loosely draped, dark purple curtain. Victorian-style wallpaper peeks through any wall space not covered in clothing, photos and posters, all reflecting the store’s Goth theme.

Goth fashion generally features black or dark clothing, often made of lace and velvet, along with dyed black hair and dramatic eye makeup. But the boutique offers more than just Goth styles. In hopes of inspiring people to create their own style, Duszak sells many other underground styles, such as vintage, Victorian, burlesque and psychobilly, as well as more generic rock styles. She also offers new and used clothing from all over the world.

“The commercial trends that most people wear do not pertain at all to their essence inside, or reflect their personality,” Duszak says. “I’ve always wanted to inspire people to search within.”

Duszak, 31, moved here three years ago from Poland, where she taught English after studying in Australia. She says Costa Rica’s “lack of unique style” inspired her to take a chance and open her first business, in the hopes that Marilyn Boutique could offer “the alternative people are craving.” Though the store has been open just four months, Duszak says things are going well.

Most of the clothing offered by the boutique is either ordered online or chosen from among local designers, often still unknown.

“It’s great to have a store interested in what we’re producing,” says Ariadna Ocampo, 19, one of the Costa Rican designers featured in the store. “It’s not always easy to convince a store to sell your clothes, especially if you’re not well known.”

Browsing Marilyn, customers may find anything from your standard Fruit of the Loom tank top to a pair of swanky, bright green leather pants. Though clothing is the main item sold here, accessories, belts and picture frames can be found on every surface. Items are priced in dollars and range from a treasure box full of $1 trinkets to an elegant red dress for $75.

Despite the obvious originality of the store, “even ‘normal’ people come in from the street to check it out,” Duszak says.

“I think I have something to offer anyone willing to try something a little different,” she says.

Marilyn Boutique is at Calle 13, Avenida 2, 25 meters east and 75 south of the Cuesta de Moras Más x Menos. For information, call 2221-8340 or visit


Comments are closed.