A Reflection On How Thierry Mugler Changed Fashion Forever
Sometimes people change history by being calm and collected in times of strife, but most of the time, people change history by pushing the envelope.
And boy, did Thierry Mugler push the envelope. He pushed the envelope so far, that he has gone down in history by being one of the most outrageous, avant-garde and modern designers to ever walk this earth. A trailblazer.
A figurehead for BIPOC and LGBTQ+, Mugler embraced his gayness, as well as immortalizing it through his collections. Today, that’s the norm, but when he sent drag queens down the runway, it was in the middle of the AIDS epidemic, and that choice marginalized him for the public. At the time, expressing your homosexuality was not celebrated in larger society like it is now, and with Mugler’s extravagant theatre runway shows, he created a stage for LGBTQ+ people to express themselves on a worldwide scale – and be admired for it.
In a time (the 90’s, my decade) where women were expected to be as thin as possible, where protruding collar bones and angular hip bones were the beauty standard, Mugler pushed back against it, and gave those emaciated women curves anyway, through tailoring and design.
For example, the long, fitted gown from Autumn Winter 1995 (seen below) which had harshly exaggerated hips, were exaggerated even further by the colouring, with the black background and a white centre panel down the middle, shaped like an hourglass.
Sinful curves with the occasional villainous spike, Mugler’s clothes were both ultra-feminine and ultra-femme-fatale – playing the line between soft and playful seduction and vamp–ish allure. And he picked the perfect women to model it, too. Now-icons such as Jerry Hall, Claudia Schiffer, Karen Mulder, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Coco Rocha, Pat Cleveland, Tracee Ellis Ross, Diana Ross, Yasmeen Ghauri, Eva Herzigova – it’s never ending. Mugler put the “show” in runway show.
A Mugler woman is confident in herself, fearless, a little arrogant, and definitely orders the most expensive thing on the menu on dates. Her favourite drink is champagne, but isn’t ashamed to say piña colada’s and strawberry daquiri’s are close seconds. Loud, outspoken, and the centre of attention without being slighted for it, a Mugler woman is one we all want to be – and you can. Good designers revolutionize the way people feel when they put on clothes. Thierry Mugler’s clothes were designed so tactfully that women became more confident, more outrageous, more poised and self-assured. When you wear Mugler you become a Mugler girl.
Casey Cadwallader took over the mantel of Mugler’s fashion brand in 2018, continuing on Thierry Mugler’s legacy, albeit with a 21st century slinky twist. Fans include Megan Fox, Dua Lipa, Beyoncé, and Cardi B. All women whom Thierry would’ve enjoyed wearing his label – ultra-feminine-femme-fatales.
Thierry’s designs are still so sought-after. Cardi B wore his Venus dress from AW95 (where she looks like she’s a pearl coming out of a clam shell; again, see original dress below) to the Grammy’s in 2019. Kim Kardashian wore his black cut-out number from SS98 to the Annual Hollywood Beauty Awards – and fast-fashion brand Fashion Nova (ew) copied it within 24 hours. At the 2019 Met Gala, Kim K wore a custom Mugler pink latex dress with dripping crystals. It had a waist so cinched, she couldn’t sit down, and could barely breathe the whole evening. These clothes were outrageous and incredible the day they came into existence, and 40 years later they are just as wild. I would give my left arm to own a Mugler piece if I could.
After the passing of Virgil Abloh (who was a renowned unknown designer copycat, sorry to say), and André Leon Talley, it’s a brutal blow to know that a man who inspired virtually everybody in the industry is gone for good. The greats are leaving us. The door is open, and the veil is thin. It’s time for the new generation to take over the mantle, to be forever inspired with all Thierry has left us. Let’s do him proud.