Photo: Landmark Media/Alamy
It’s a film in the spirit of the time that divides opinions into two. Critically acclaimed, award contender and praised by Martin Scorsese. On the other hand, she was accused of being “anti-women” by leading conductor Marin Alsop and mocked by younger audiences for patronizing her for downplaying the culture of cancellation. But there’s one area where everyone agrees that Tár, Todd Field’s epic about the decline of a fictional maestro, stands out: clothing.
Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) embodies the power-lesbian ideal. Sharp, pale blue buttons. She draped a cashmere sweater over her shoulders as she curled up in her ruthless, book-filled apartment. He walks the streets of Charlottenburg in a luxurious, virgin wool coat with padded shoulders and a silk shirt underneath. Clean lines and sharp silhouettes dominate.
Related: Tár review – Cate Blanchett is the perfect lead in the crazy, sultry drama
This is the kind of aspirational wardrobe that has made people of all genders pass out and has won the fashion world. It wasn’t a reaction that client designer Bina Daigeler, who had previously worked with Blanchett on the Miss America series, had expected. Usually the point is that “even though they’re part of the language of the movie, so no one notices the clothes … it was a big surprise to me”.
But Daigeler knew from the first reading of Field’s script that Tár’s tailoring choices—as we all do, but perhaps especially in the case of Tár’s self-mythologizing—are key to his character.
Daigeler approached the task with the same level of research as in a period film. The main theme was clear: dressing strong. “I think we all do this – we dress a certain way when we need to reflect our strength. [Lydia] Tár speaks volumes about strength and durability.”
In response to Alsop’s criticism, Blanchett said that Tár was “a movie about power, not about sex”; but her silhouette is often masculine.
Tár is a rich woman. Daigeler cites Margaret Howell, Max Mara, and Dries van Noten, among other high-end brands that stand out. Studio Nicholson and Lemaire provided most of the key pieces. The movie’s budget was just $35 million and that was sometimes overwhelming, as Blanchett joked at one point they spent most of it on the Diana jacket from The Row (which retails for around £3,000). Tár carries the iconic Hermes Birkin (from £7,000) and wears an introverted Rolex (about £4,000) for a woman who talks about controlling time.
Daigeler created a complete wardrobe for Tár as if he were a real person. Some things were mentioned in the script by Field – Tár’s baseball cap while traveling undercover. Others were Blanchett’s ideas at the rehearsal: shirts worn over turtlenecks, a style gimmick also seen at the latest presentation of one of the world’s most luxurious brands, Brioni, for example.
Besides haute designers, Daigeler brought vintage blouses and many special pieces from stores in Berlin and New York: “It was a complete mix.” The hues were mostly muted to reflect Tár’s harsh nature and “to match Berlin’s gray skies”.
It’s also about lifestyle – Tár’s beige and pastel Oxford shirts and knitwear have little chance of collecting dirt while jogging and flying freshman year in his Tesla.
The most important thing to perfect was Tár’s high-neck penguin tuxedo while conducting. They looked to Austrian chef Herbert von Karajan and mostly former male chefs for inspiration.
“I also noticed it when I watched Cate at rehearsal. [conducting]that it is very important for him to be able to move. But also having power at the core. So I made these high-waisted pants to support her,” says Daigeler. There is a long scene where Tár visits tailors and is measured.
As Tár’s world is turned upside down, the look he puts together is a little less put together. Daigeler points out that Tár would never wear running tracksuits, but the clothes are getting looser and the collars less printed. The sweaters are in the open (all by Margaret Howell, which costs around £300). Even sneakers and a leather jacket make an appearance. As miserable as the attentive Tár will allow.
Considering how beautiful the clothes are, I ask Daigeler if she’s taking any pieces home. He didn’t. For her, “as soon as a job is done” – but Blanchett did. “There was a very nice team of Dries van Noten, where I’ve seen him a few times since then.”
Is there anything accessible to fans of Tár who don’t have as much income as a world-class cultural icon? Try the New York Rangers baseball cap. Yours for £16.50.