When it comes to Todd Field’s Tár, we suggest you come for the director’s first film in over a decade, and stay for the nonstop parade of aspirational style (oh, and Cate Blanchett’s absolutely enthralling performance, which has flung the actress to the top of yet another Oscar race). The movie has completely captivated the fashion set for its beautifully curated wardrobe of crisp button-downs, cashmere sweater vests, and perfectly proportioned jackets. Blanchett’s Lydia Tár may be the maestro of the Berlin Philharmonic, but when it comes to her closet, costume designer Bina Daigeler is the conductor.
“I never thought anybody would look at the clothes in the film, because nobody really said anything to me during production,” Daigeler told W. The designer has worked on multiple period pieces over the years, which lent the costumes much more attention—but in a contemporary story like Tár, she didn’t expect such a loud response. “Now, so many people are talking about the clothes, and they really love it. You still look primarily to the faces of the actors, but somehow, there is something that people like about Lydia’s style.”
This is hardly the first time Daigeler has gained attention for her work. The designer was nominated for an Academy Award in 2021 for Best Costume Design for the Disney film Mulan. Up next, she’s taking on quite the project: working on costumes for the Disney+ series about Cristóbal Balenciaga. “It was very specific and very precise work,” she said of designing for the show. “That, for me, was a lot of fun.” For now, though, all the attention remains on Lydia and her pleated pants. Below, Daigeler talks the intense research that went into creating the costumes for Tár, her love of The Row, and the Celine shoes you never got to see in the film.
When you first began working on the movie, what was your initial vision for Lydia Tár?
I read the script so many times, because there was so much information in it. I had to look up so many expressions and phrases, and do research about classical music, conductors, and the philharmonic. Once I did that, I created a mood board, which ended up being very dark and aggressive. I showed it to Todd and Cate and we set out to find the clothes to recreate the images I found appropriate for Lydia.
I used some vintage clothes, some custom pieces, some designer pieces. We had a very broad closet for Cate. We learned a lot from our first fitting, in terms of what shapes are good for her. We decided on looser fits for the pants, except for the ones she wore when she was conducting, which had a lot of structure and power in the waist.
Did you have any influences in terms of style?
I looked up a lot of female conductors, but my inspiration mostly came from male conductors, like Herbert von Karajan, who was on my mood board. I consider Lydia as very male-driven in her way of seeing life and how she constructed her career—the way she worked from nothing to getting it all.
If you had to describe Lydia’s wardrobe in a few words, how would you do so?
She’s a powerful woman with a very high position in a place that’s usually male-ruled. I would say she has a closet of designer clothes and very good taste, but she gets dressed fast, without thinking. She doesn’t spend time getting ready and making choices in the morning, but because she has these nice clothes, she knows she will always look good and be well-dressed.
Personally, I saw a lot of The Row influence. It felt like Lydia’s whole wardrobe could have been from the brand.
Well, there’s a fun story about The Row—obviously I love the label, and Cate does too, but we were a very small-budget film. I always had this idea in my mind, though, of this perfect black coat with a long lapel—something very big and made of a beautiful material. I found it, and it was from The Row.
I purchased it and brought it to one of the fittings with Cate. During the fittings, Cate tries everything on and we go back and forth with the script and discuss things as she changes. At one point, I put this fabulous coat on her, and she just kept talking and talking, but she didn’t say anything about the coat. Finally, I was like, “Hey, Cate. Look at your coat.” And then suddenly, she looked at it, and said, “What an amazing coat, who made it?” I told her, and she said, “Oh my god, all of our budget goes to this one coat from The Row.” But I was still super happy because it was just the best coat ever.
Lydia isn’t big on accessories. She doesn’t wear any jewelry except for a watch, with the face on the inside of the wrist. Who came up with that detail?
That was a research decision. Conductors do that so there’s no light reflection, which could irritate the musicians while they’re conducting. You would be surprised how much research went into little details like that.
Then there’s the scene with the Birkin. Did Todd confirm in the script that he wanted that particular style?
It was written as an Hermès bag. Cate and I both talked with Todd several times about the Hermes, saying that a Louis Vuitton might be better. But he insisted that this woman would wear a Birkin and we had to get one. You don’t really see it very much, but somehow, everybody knows it’s a Birkin.
Berlin is a city known for its unique style. Were you influenced at all by your surroundings?
Definitely. For example, Lydia wears this leather jacket, with a specific fit, and some of her striped shirts—for me, that all very much worked for somebody who lives in Berlin. I don’t think I would've dressed her the same if the film was in Paris. It’s very much German, and also there’s a Nina Hoss influence in all this. And I’m German; I spent the whole pandemic in Berlin. So at that moment, I was really deep into the city.
Speaking of Nina, her character, Sharon, mirrors Lydia a lot, style-wise, though she’s slightly more feminine. Was that on purpose?
With Sharon, in the preparation and in the fittings, I had her in even more feminine pieces with more texture and patterns. And then, in rehearsals with Nina, I noticed it didn’t fit her character, it was too feminine. I realized Sharon and Lydia are not so different.
Of course, Nina was also in skirts several times, though perhaps you don’t see that. She has a lot of [Yohji] Yamamoto tops, which are more fluid. But I got rid of all the patterns I had prepared because it didn’t feel right. Somehow, with Sharon, we learned who she was in the last week of prep, and I changed her look from there.
Then there’s Francesca, who also has great style. She's a little bit more cool and a little bit more youthful. What were you thinking when dressing that character?
I was very lucky because I found a brand in Spain that had a beautiful knit sweater, and I paired it with a Moscone jacket and a Studio Nicholson pant. I sent the look to Noémie [Merlant] and she loved it—we decided that would be our direction for the character.
What about Olga?
Olga was interesting because it was [Sophie Kauer’s] first time in a movie. We dyed her hair, and I think that process helped her prepare a lot.
And those blue boots are great.
They’re actually green.
They’re green. It’s funny, because the character Krista Taylor, who you don’t see much, also wore these beautiful vintage green Celine shoes. I loved that continuity. I think you can see the shoes in the trailer, but they’re not in the film. It doesn’t matter, because sometimes there are things that are good to just do in prep.
And then there’s the final, pivotal scene. Did you make all those costumes?
Yes, we made all of those. It was this huge process for such a short scene. We made, like, 250 costumes—but what can we do? It was nice, and a bit of fun after all this serious, very dark costume-making.