One year and two months after the death of French couturier Thierry Mugler (1948-2022), he continues to triumph in New York Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, the retrospective that explores the fascinating legacy of the designer, who toured Montreal, Amsterdam, Munich and Paris before his death. Now, posthumously, it takes on another meaning, like everything else most cherished when it’s over: Mugler did…
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One year and two months after the death of French couturier Thierry Mugler (1948-2022), he continues to triumph in New York Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, the retrospective that explores the fascinating legacy of the designer, who toured Montreal, Amsterdam, Munich and Paris before his death. Now, posthumously, it takes on another meaning, like everything that is appreciated when it ends: Mugler made history.
It is an icon of the transgressor. In the 80s and 90s, he revolutionized the catwalks by transforming what could be a mere presentation of a collection of clothes into the sensation of the season. Thousands of people paid to see fashion shows that lasted over an hour and were pure spectacle. They revolved around a theme and had a soundtrack and special guests. Mugler’s was an exacerbated imagination, pure play and delight, which found the best form of manifestation in costumes. It was these unpredictable stagings that accompanied his projects that made him stand out among his contemporaries. He dressed models (Jerry Hall, Iman, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell…) and celebrities (including Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Cardi B or Kim Kardashian) or companies that had nothing to do with fashion, but that did seek originality, like Cirque du Soleil. Anyone who wanted to pass it down to posterity in an innovative way turned to Mugler. He also directed music videos, collaborating with artists such as George Michael, and his perfume, Angel, became a hit. Bestseller. He was also a visionary, as his designs played with the man-machine duality, long before cyborgs were such a normalized reality in society. He didn’t follow trends, he created them. “Mugler was a pioneer in addressing diversity and female empowerment as early as the 1970s,” comments Thierry-Maxime Loriot, curator of the exhibition, in which 150 pieces can be seen that reflect her trajectory from 1977 to 2014.
As fascinating as his work was the personality and life of this extravagant fashion designer who began his career at the age of 14 as a professional dancer in the ballet of the Rhine Opera (Strasbourg) and died at the age of 73 with the physical appearance of a boxer. His radical metamorphosis began in 2003, when Mugler temporarily abandoned haute couture. He turned to bodybuilding (he was always an amateur) bordering on vigorexia and several cosmetic surgeries left his face almost unrecognizable. The first operations had been to repair damage resulting from accidents, but as Mugler himself revealed to the magazine Interview, there were changes he introduced for fun. For example, putting a little hip bone on the chin. “I wanted my face to represent progress, because after so many years of being a slender and sweet dancer, I wanted to be a warrior. I’ve done so many things throughout my life… I’ve fought so hard… I’m a superhero, so it’s normal for me to look like one,” he said.
Sample Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, which now acquires the status of a true legacy of the stylist, can be seen at the Brooklyn Museum, which in recent years, in search of a new audience, has welcomed the work of stylists such as Christian Dior, Jean-Paul Gaultier or Pierre Cardin. And it is that, in recent years, museums the size of the MET tend to dedicate at least one of their spaces to visiting the legacy of the most important stylists in history and highlighting fashion as an art.