Interview with Muriel Parra, Chilean costume designer with a long history and part of “Sayen”

A few weeks ago we were invited to witness the press function of sayen, the first film in a Chilean trilogy produced by Fábula, by the Larraín brothers that can be seen on Prime Video. The story follows the first Mapuche action heroine, played by rallen montenegroin a story full of intrigue, action and other actors like the popular aron piper. Then we were able to access a press conference where we met Muriel Parra (@murielparradiaz), costume designer with a long career in national productions and an important role making costumes for, for example, Una Mujer Fantástica (2017) and Los Espookys (2019). Muriel joined none other than the Academy of Arts and Sciences (of the Oscars) in 2021, and has received awards such as the Phoenix for Best Costumes for “Neruda” in 2016.

“Year ’90; she was in Third Art at Arcis and Claudia Robles -who was already working in costumes- needed an Assistant. I offered myself and worked with her for four years, it was beautiful. Then I started working alone and I did it for a long time together with Cristián Galaz; My first film was “El Chacotero Sentimental”. That was my super beginning in the cinema”, Muriel tells us.

Tony Manero and Neruda, two previous Muriel productions.

-If we talk about the process behind devising the costumes for a character, whatHow are you building your aesthetic? whatDo you have the freedom to do it or do you go with the directions determined by the director?

The truth is that this process is not so hidden because we all creatively work as a team; it is a space, a fundamental environment that is just as strong as what is seen on the screen. I have a method that goes from reading to the script, the first ideas. Freedom is in what one wants for everything he does. If the director’s vision does not match mine, we talk until we reach a point that is inspiring for him and also for me.

The Sentimental Chacotero and A Fantastic Woman.

-Your first official job (which is listed on IMDB), it was co create he locker room for the classic sex with love. whatWhat do you remember of that experience?

In “Sexo con Amor” there is Fran Marshall, whom I invited to work in wardrobe. We were also together with her in “El chacotero sentimental”. It was a super nice experience, like the first experiences of things that one likes a lot and that are new, inspiring. As it was a long time ago, the set was not yet lived as it is lived today, much more professional, concentrated, with time. We worked together more as a team, the decisions were different, the acting times are different and both Cristián Galaz and Boris Quercia are actor directors, so I learned a lot. They are two people that I respect a lot, so that stage is like the basis of my beginning; I am very grateful to this day.

Part of Muriel’s wardrobe for Los Espookys.

-“Los Spookys” has been widely praised Specially in as to his esthetic. whatHow has it been for you to participate in this original story? and try to create those true universes of style?

How amazing of spookys; I love very much. It has been a super aesthetic journey, of people, what we recorded, etc. A lot of style, very original, working closely with Julio Torres, whose Instagram you check out and you realize what that means, haha. What I have experienced with this series is very interesting, to what extent I was able to experiment and how fascinating it is to be free to propose, which shows at work. Under the gaze of HBO, Julio, Ana and Fred engage creatively and they give you freedom. Ana Fábrega and Julio Torres -creators- have a very clear picture, they are free to create and free of mind, it shows in their ideas. You get close to it and it’s fascinating. That experience has been incredible for me and also realizing that the work of the Chilean technicians has a very good level; I am very foolish in emphasizing this but I feel that it is a bastion that is with me and it is true. The same is happening now with Sayen: ideas are carried out. There are very good technicians, of an excellent professional level.

-If we talk about Sayen, whatHow was the previous investigation to find the appropriate clothing of the Mapuche culture?

The research was done from various states for me: the political, the environmental, the cultural. But also the historical and spiritual. We were in the middle of a pandemic with this process, so for me it was perfect to be able to imagine universes and connect with what is important to convey in the script, give it spirituality above all and a certain certainty of respect and knowledge with what everyone used. That was very rigorous because as it is the first film in this action trilogy, the seeds of the characters and of this spirit are marked. It was respectful, co-created with Marcela Inaipil and the Mapuche Goldsmiths Cooperative in Temuco, working with the signs that Sayen’s jewelry had and that were related to who she was: her territory, marital status, if she had children or not, if She was a weichafe and her blanket was made by Anita Paillamil. That beginning was very strong and we were under pressure as it was an action movie. Apart from the creative, knowing that this was going to be put in an action scenario has other requirements; That’s why I’m talking about the team. Super good team, the Chilean technicians always making good decisions.

-What will your next projects be?

A very interesting movie is coming and I’m happy, but I can’t count yet (laughs).

Photos: IMDB, Art to the limit, The Third, Wikipedia

Interview with Muriel Parra, Chilean costume designer with a long history and part of “Sayen”