Costume designer Bina Daigeler on blending cultural authenticity and breathtaking fantasy in ‘Mulan’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“It’s really, really awesome,” costume designer Bina Daigeler admits about receiving an Oscar nomination for “Mulan,” the first of her career. “I’ve been working in this business as a costume designer for 36 years and to get, suddenly, this recognition for my work on ‘Mulan’ feels just amazing,” she smiles. Watch our exclusive video interview with Daigeler above.

“Mulan” is Disney’s live action remake of its classic 1998 animated feature, a $200 million China-set action drama directed by Niki Caro (“Whale Rider”) and starring Liu Yifei in the title role, Gong Li as sorceress Xianniang and Jet Li as the Emperor. After the film’s intended multiplex roll-out was thwarted a year ago by the coronavirus pandemic, the studio shifted it to its Disney+ streaming platform last fall. But, unlike many other “tentpole” action blockbusters that were shelved in 2020, “Mulan” became a commercial and critical success, earning Oscar nominations for Daigeler’s costume design and the film’s impressive visual effects.

SEE Exclusive Video Interview: Sean Faden and Anders Langlands (‘Mulan’ VFX supervisors)

Daigeler believes that despite there being so much award-worthy work to choose from this past year, her work may have resonated with the academy’s costume designers branch because of its attention to detail and the volume of different looks, both based on historical research and beloved Disney fantasy elements.

“There’s a lot of hand embroidery and richness in the costumes. Of course, I could do that because I had the support, I had the production time, the prep time, the budget for it, an amazing crew, I just had the best crew with people that know about hand craft,” she says. “I didn’t feel like I was obligated to do something like a documentary. I treated it with a lot of respect. Some things are completely correct to Chinese history, but then it is a fantasy movie,” Daigeler explains. “My inspiration was based on very intense research, but then I was able to fill it up with a lot of fantasy.”

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