Image Description: Four black dresses designed by the famous fashion designer Thierry Mugler
“Fashion is a movie. Every morning when you get dressed, you direct yourself” – Thierry Mugler
On the 23rd of January 2022, Mugler’s official Instagram page announced the death of its founder, Manfred Thierry Mugler.
But who was Mugler, and why was he so well known and loved in the world of fashion?
Born on the 21st of December 1948, in Strasbourg, France, Mugler began to study classical dance at the age of 9, joined the ballet corps for the Rhine Opera at 14, and started attending interior design training at the Strasbourg School of Decorative Arts the same year.
In 1973, he started his own eponymous fashion house, and his debut collection was entitled ‘Café de Paris’ which was themed around ideas of urban sophistication. Despite being his first collection, the designs already featured his signature exaggerated feminine silhouettes that gave a sense of empowerment with their broad shoulders.
From the 70s to the 90s, Mugler ascended to fashion stardom with an array of themed collections that were based on increasingly outlandish themes like “Les Cow-boys”, “Les Insectes” and “Les Infernales”, which were based on the Wild West, bugs, and demons, respectively.
In 1992, Mugler started his own perfume line with a fragrance called Angel. Its praline, chocolate and patchouli scent meant that it didn’t fit into any pre-existing perfume categories, and so the ‘gourmand’ genre of perfumes came into being. Angel was followed up by Angel Men in 1996, and Alien in 2005.
In 1995 Mugler decided to host an hour-long catwalk to celebrate 20 years of the brand. Called ‘Cirque d’Hiver’ the show presented over 100 outfits, including the now iconic ‘Venus dress’ and ‘Mugler Fembot’ outfit, among dozens of other sparkly, furry and feathery ensembles.
In 2002, Thierry Mugler decided to retire from fashion. His brand had recently suffered financial losses, but Mugler later stated that he was retiring because “Fashion is beautiful… but it wasn’t enough, which is why I went on to create in other ways.”, continuing to create new fragrances for his perfume line.
In 2013, Thierry returned to his brand as Creative Advisor to work with Nicola Formichetti as Creative Director, who revived the brand’s menswear collection. The current Creative director is Casey Cadwallader, who has focussed on the brand’s ready-to-wear collections since his appointment in 2017.
According to Teen Vogue, Mugler’s extensive work alongside celebrities makes his clothing the most coveted vintage brand for Gen Z. Throughout his career, he designed for Madonna, Diana Ross, David Bowie, George Michael, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Cardi B and Kim Kardashian, among many others, and was involved in designing and directing the music videos for Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’ and George Michael’s ‘Too Funky’.
In his personal life, Mugler was openly gay and an avid bodybuilder. He was praised for being open about the plastic surgery he had following numerous crashes and accidents, which was rare at the time, saying that the surgeries were a form of “architectural research” that represented the progress he had made in his life. He was also praised for working with ethnic minority models, transgender models and drag queens, being sure to display his collections on a variety of people.
Some of Mugler’s most iconic looks are the motorcycle dress, complete with wing mirrors and handlebars, the lizard monster dress and his Venus dress, which was taken out of the vault to be worn by Cardi B at the 2019 Grammy Awards.
His exaggerated yet powerfully feminine designs and camp themes truly left their mark on the world of fashion, and he will be sorely missed.
“I am not trendy. I am not ‘in fashion.’ I am simply a positive human being who has a positive outlook on life.” – Thierry Mugler
Image credit: Regan Vercruysse via Flickr