the iconic life of thierry mugler



“Thierry Mugler MBAM(14)” by Regan Vercruysse is licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. see below for links

The fashion industry was hit hard this new year with the passing of French fashion designer Manfred Thierry Mugler. On Sunday, Jan. 23, it was announced that the industry lost the icon at just 73 years old. This was especially disheartening after receiving the news of fashion journalist André Leon Talley’s passing a few days prior. Given Mugler’s extensive impact on the fashion industry, it is not enough to acknowledge his death, we must also commemorate his astounding accomplishments during his lifetime.

According to a bio by Catwalk Yourself, Mugler started his life of design in his early 20s. He created his label in 1974 and launched his first ready-to-wear collection. In 1982, Mugler broke boundaries in the industry by putting on the first-ever fashion show open to the public. The article, “History of Mugler: Futuristic and Hyper-Feminised Design” by Zeitgeist described it as “a groundbreaking decision back in the age when information was not as accessible as it is today and elite fashion was kept highly exclusive.” The show was such a great success with a turnout of over 6,000 people that other high-fashion brands like Yves Saint Laurent followed in his footsteps.

Mugler was not just a designer, but an artist. He was known for testing the boundaries of fashion and finding inspiration in the fantastical. His runway shows focused not only on the clothing but also the story it could tell. They were known to be full productions with alluring music, lighting and choreography. Mugler also collaborated with numerous artists and musicians. As reported by Rolling Stone, ‘70s glam-rock icon David Bowie should be credited for putting Mugler on the map. Bowie appeared on Saturday Night Live in a Mugler dress and later had Mugler design his wedding suit.

Though he was brilliant in his designs, Thierry Mugler also had a promising fragrance line. His first scent “Angel” was released in 1992. The perfume played into the power of women and Mugler’s “femme fatale” perspective of women, the scent was often described as intoxicating and seductive. A little over a decade later in 2003, the House of Mugler ceased to continue its ready-to-wear fashion and worked exclusively in fragrance. 

Although his ready-to-wear clothing was retired, Mugler continued to work with some of the biggest names in the music industry. Beyoncé famously wore his Harley Davidson corset to promote her “I am…” tour in 2009.  Artists such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Dua Lipa have all been fortunate enough to wear his designs in the past decade.

Many modern-day fashion enthusiasts were introduced to Mugler’s designs when rap artist Cardi B wore some of his most notable archived designs on the red carpet in 2019. That same year, he collaborated with Kim Kardashian to design an original look for the Met Gala. 

It is sad to know that the industry will no longer be blessed with his brilliant original designs, but we can only hope to see more revivals of his archived pieces in tribute to him. He inspired many and will continue to do so even in his passing.

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