Thierry Mugler, fashion designer, 1948-2022


Thierry Mugler, outraged The French designer, who dressed David Bowie in a naked mermaid dress with sequins for his 1979 music video “Boys Keep Swinging”, was known for his love of fetish and fantasy. Blade-like shoulders and the waistline of his silhouettes, a trademark, helped define the powerful clothing of the 1980s and influenced designers including Alexander McQueen and the creative director of Balenciaga Demna Gvasalia.

Mugler, who died at the age of 73, sent Hollywood and porn stars to his tracks. His designs were transformative and transportable, using materials that were previously outside the luxury canon – latex, rubber, vinyl and metal. He shaped women into robots, insects, dominators and Botticelli’s Venus.

His shows were a legend. The 20th anniversary of the haute couture extravaganza at the Cirque d’Hiver in Paris in 1995 was a one-hour show opened with actress Tippi Hedren, star of Alfred Hitchcock’s film The birds, decorated with black feathers. It included a striptease by secular figure Patti Hearst and ended with a performance by singer James Brown. Such displays helped promote and were funded by Mugler’s best-selling Angel fragrance, a superb cotton candy fragrance that condemned the light, gender-neutral fragrances that dominated the market when it was introduced in 1992.

Five models by French designer Thierry Mulger present black insect-inspired costumes as part of his 1997 spring-summer fashion show.

The models present black costumes inspired by insects as part of Thierry Mugler’s 1997 fashion show Spring-Summer High. He turned women into robots, insects and domination © Reuters

Sandrine Grosslier, who has worked with Mugler for 27 years, describes him as “funny, passionate, crazy at times” and “a genius master of all trades, an artist for whom measurement is not part of his vocabulary.”

Manfred Thierry Mugler was born in 1948 in Strasbourg, France. His father was a doctor and his mother was the most elegant woman in town. As a teenager, he danced ballet at the National Opera of the Rhine and spent his free time in the cinema.

In 1973, he launched his own ready-to-wear brand, Café de Paris. Its sharp architectural lines contrast with the folklore fashion then celebrated in Paris and Milan. “I wanted to make this very clean Parisian silhouette: the little black suit, the trench coat, the black dress, the mermaid dress,” he told WWD in an interview last year. “It was all about a very precise, streamlined silhouette, very much influenced by dance.”

Mugler was not a favorite of fashion critics and was often criticized for fetishizing the female body, although he insisted that its design enabled women. “In the end, society proved me right,” Mugler said in the same interview. “All I’ve shown is that some newspapers described as pornographic, sexist or racist are now mainstream.”

“He was so misunderstood in his time, his work was too innovative and too avant-garde,” said Thierry-Maxim Lorio, curator of a retrospective now on display at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. “He really invented a fashion that is eternal, that is not a historical reference, which is quite unusual.

French fashion designer Thierry Mugler celebrates with models after his show in New York in 1980. His designs helped define the decade

Pictured in New York in 1980 at the height of his fame. Thierry Mugler’s Designs Help Define the Decade © Allan Tannenbaum / Getty

Mugler was ahead of his time in other ways. He did not use fur or exotic skins. He designed gorgeous faux leather coats woven with silk chiffon to make them softer, and sewn small black leather rectangles in imitation crocodile. “There was no way I could torture animals for a piece of clothing,” he said. He has been filming his brand’s campaigns for decades.

At the height of his fame, in the late 1980s, he was elected to the highest position in Christian Dior – a role given to Gianfranco Ferre. “Maybe I had too much personality for the job,” he told an interviewer.

Mugler retired from the track in 2002, at a time when Clarins, the French beauty conglomerate that acquired his company in 1997, closed its fashion division. He became disillusioned with luxury fashion and its growing obsession with money and power, but continued to work on fragrances. He designed costumes for Cirque du Soleil and dressed Beyonce for her “I Am 2010”. . . World tour “.

After selling his name to Clarins, he again went by the name Manfred and cultivated superhero physics through bodybuilding and plastic surgery, which he modeled in Interview magazine. Its purpose, he said, is to look like a sculpture by Arno Brecker.

Interest in Mugler’s work has revived in recent years: he created Kim Kardashian’s latex bead dress, made to look wet, at the Met Gala 2019. David Coma, creative director of the Mugler label from 2014 to 2017, describes his work as a “supreme balance of provocation and art form.” “His revolutionary sculptural designs, unparalleled clothing design and the use of innovative materials will inspire generations of designers.”

lauren.indvik@ft.com



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