When audiences are introduced to Cate Blanchett’s Lydia Tár in “Tár,” it’s through a lengthy interview sequence. Costume designer Bina Daigeler says she was very deliberate with the choice of black-and-white clothes for Tár.
“For me, it’s the well-known image of a conductor, the black and white with the tailcoat is super classic,” she says.
Tár has it all: A wife, and a family and she’s at the top of her game as the leader of a world-famous orchestra — except for her toxic traits that contribute to her downfall. “It was important that there was nothing pretentious about her wardrobe,” says the costume designer of Tár’s super-clean looks. “I also didn’t want to draw too much attention to what she was wearing, particularly in that first scene.”
Tár’s wardrobe is mainly pantsuits in a muted palette, but Daigeler points out that her suits have a “beautiful female shape” to them. The key was high-waisted and sharply tailored looks.
At least in the beginning.
Immediately after the opening-scene interview, the character goes to the Juilliard School to teach and is conscious of how she presents herself on stage and as a teacher. The costume designer had to find a way for a costume change since “she would never wear the same thing to teach her class as she would on stage. So I insisted there had to be a moment where she changes.”
In the end, there are two different outfits for the scene. “It was a blue-black wool pant piece with pleats, and it was high-waisted. She could move better, walk around and teach.”
As important as the suits were Tár’s footwear. “She mainly wore loafers. We decided she doesn’t wear socks, only on stage,” Daigeler says.
As Tár’s life unravels so does her polished look. “It is less organized,” Daigeler says. “They are much more fitted in the beginning, but when her world falls apart, the pants start to fit looser, and she’s not put together so well.”
The challenge, Daigeler says, in creating contemporary costumes is that so much is about personal taste and audiences need to be focused on the character, not the costumes. Yet, they too are part of the storytelling.
“I tried to keep it very natural,” she says of Tár’s looks. “I think for me contemporary has to be something natural and that people see that this person can exist and they have their personal style.”