‘TAR’ costume designer Bina Daigeler on the ‘epic challenge’ of dressing a ‘complex’ and ‘ambiguous’ character [Exclusive Video Interview]

“She is a very complex character,” observes costume designer Bina Daigeler about Lydia Tár, the title character in “TÁR.” It’s a film where there are “a lot of questions asked,” but also “different points of view to get the answer.” Is she a villain or “completely misunderstood? The scenes are very open to different kinds of interpretations, in my opinion.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Daigeler above.

“TÁR” tells the story of a world-renowned classical conductor and composer (played by Cate Blanchett) who makes history as the first female chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. However, she faces allegations of misconduct that threaten to derail her career. So how do you dress such an enigmatic character? “I tried to be ambiguous,” Daigeler explains. But it’s also “very subtle and steady costume design” that’s “not distracting from Cate’s interpretation. And that was very important for me.”

For Blanchett’s costumes on the Todd Field film, “I built a bigger wardrobe than was needed, because we needed the freedom to develop the character” and decide “what is the right thing for each scene.” That included custom-made designs “to get the best textures, the right material, the right color.” And the right kind of fit was especially important when Tár was conducting “because she needs all the movement for her arms, but on the other side, she also needs big support for her core.”

The film’s color story is subtle and was inspired by the locale. “Berlin was a huge inspiration for me as a city and as the background of our movie.” They filmed in autumn, when the sky of the city is a “particular gray … and some of that helped me to get into all these gray shadows, and use these tones of this autumn sky in Berlin.” Such fine details are what make contemporary costume design such a deceptively “epic challenge.”

She adds, “In a period movie, it is much more about my creative vision, my knowledge about period,” whereas contemporary design is about conveying a character who “has a lot of emotions, and that I have to get all this somehow on the screen. And so to find the right material, the right texture, and on top make it interesting, but also not too interesting” so as not to detract from the story. “I think it’s a very slim line to get that right.”

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