LONDON — German men’s tailor Egon Brandstetter and his business partner Marc-Martin Straub never expected to be the unsung fashion heroes of Todd Field’s third feature film, “Tár.”
The film starts with Cate Blanchett’s character Lydia Tár, the first female chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic and an EGOT recipient, being fitted for a bespoke shirt dress and suit at the Egon Brandstetter atelier by Brandstetter himself.
“A location scout came two weeks before shooting [in November 2021] and said they will be doing a movie, but he was not allowed to say what it was. It was a young German guy and we didn’t know it was Hollywood,” Brandstetter told WWD over Zoom, with Straub sitting next to him.
The proposition wasn’t unusual to the German men as they often rent out rooms in the atelier to advertising companies to film.
“The next Wednesday Todd came with a couple of people and everybody was wearing a face mask. I treated him like a client and actually he was so fascinated by everything that he was planning on coming back to order a shirt. He was laughing and said, ‘you just got me.’ He then asked me if I wanted to be the tailor in the movie, but I said no,” Brandstetter retold of the encounter.
He changed his mind when Field mentioned that he would be shooting with Cate Blanchett. “Everybody started laughing behind their masks and my apprenticeship girls were behind the door signaling me to do it,” added Brandstetter.
Austrian-born Brandstetter is equally as chatty and neighborly as he is confidently reserved, stemming from living in Berlin for more than a decade. He isn’t one to be intimidated or overwhelmed by a critically acclaimed cast.
After completing his formal education in Austria, he went to tailoring school and then was enrolled into military service for a year, during which he wrote 100 letters applying for jobs.
“I had a few interviews, which were not so interesting and then out of the blue the English National Opera in London called me, which I had actually forgotten that I’d written to them and a decision was made in five days,” said Brandstetter.
The ENO gave him leeway to work in France and Italy before settling at the Vienna State Opera for six years, which houses the biggest costume department in Europe.
“I learned a lot about historical tailoring and pattern making, it was a really cool job, but in the end I was never satisfied because I was always part of a big team and this is how you meet people in the trade who are older than you, but you’re still one little piece in a huge company,” he added.
He moved to Berlin, registered as self-employed and rented a shared space for 100 euros. It happened to be in the same neighborhood Straub had moved to from Paris.
“I would see him in the big windows working late at night in this bright window, but I didn’t understand what he was doing. I thought it might have been some hipster performance artist who was opening a gallery,” said Straub, who out of intrigue went in one day, ended up staying for five hours talking to Brandstetter and ordered his first bespoke suit, despite “not having a job or a lot of money” at the time.
Straub had just left a career as an internal audit of a major French oil company as a result of burnout, and he pitched himself to Brandstetter as a business partner, underscoring the passion and resilience that he had seen in his own mother, who was an artist and musician. Brandstetter accepted because he felt he had nothing to lose as a very small business.
The Egon Brandstetter atelier has now expanded into a fully functioning store sitting opposite the German CIA with a website and business plan. Straub orchestrates the day-to-day business, while Brandstetter designs with the team.
The brand is planning on launching an online shop where customers can order made-to-measure suits starting from 1,500 euros and bespoke suits from 5,500.