Thierry Mugler And The Legacy Of A True Artistic Revolution

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Fashion brands come and go. A great fashion Mademoiselle said once: Fashion fades, only style remains. When it comes to style, certain names are iconically linked to it and Thierry Mugler is one of them. It is hard to define if Thierry Mugler was a revolution or an evolution of fashion, but what we are sure is that there was a before Thierry Mugler and an after. Here is a flashback on how Thierry Mugler rocked fashion and the amazing story of the French Fashion and Beauty brand.

If you can dream it you can do it.

As Walt Disney said once: “if you can dream it, you can do it“. It all started with the boundless will of a man, Thierry Mugler. He was born in Strasbourg – France, and from a very early age he knew he had an artist within. At age of 20, he moved to Paris and started his career in Fashion design. In 1973, he created his first personal collection called “Café de Paris“. Paris, in the seventies, was the best place for such a start. The Prêt-à-Porter takes over most of the shop windows in the Rive Gauche. Thierry Mugler’s collection showed the beginnings of a Mugler strong femininity full of sensuality and strong personality.

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Paris becomes the place of a new wave of talents. There is a renouveau in the fashion landscape. Couture and Prêt-à-Porter blends in order to create something else. You will be able to find a piece of clothe (a dress, a jacket or a skirt) industrially produced but with luxury details. Inspired and fueled by the encounter of Andrée Putman and Didier Grumbach who create  the group “Createurs et Industriels“, a new terminology appears to describe the new generation of fashion talents. We call them “CREATEURS”. Among Claude Montana, Issey Miyake or Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Thierry Mugler leads with a incredible singularity. It is also the start of North Italy textile industries. The Italian neighbors understand quite fast that this new generation of Createurs, need an industrial platform capable of innovation and scale. It needs to be faster, more innovative within a certain cost, and allow all the creativity of these talented people to become reality. The seventies was the cradle of all the following 20 years of fashion design.

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Thierry Mugler, fashion Creator, photographer, choreographer, iconoclast and artist

Thierry Mugler, as a fashion creator represented the emblematic figure of the unpredictable, scandalous and absolutely irresistible young Creator. From the design of his fashion, the catwalks, the photographies, everything  was taken good care by Mr Mugler in order to set up the myth of the Muglerian woman: dark, sober, sexy young woman, a real amazon of modern times.

The interesting point of Thierry Mugler is the fact that he was more than a fashion designer and his vision of fashion was more than simple clothes. He was an accomplished artist, photographer and iconoclast. By trying to describe what he has accomplished in time, I took the freedom to be inspired by the Genesis book. So this is what I would say:

In the beginning Thierry Mugler created his heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of Thierry Mugler was hovering over the waters. And Thierry Mugler said, “Let there be light,” and there was light“.

Thierry Mugler was motivated to create something that did not exist. The only way was to build an entire universe from zero. His dazzling creation power invited all of us to an extraordinary journey to unknown territories. The arrival of Thierry Mugler in the fashion world broke every single established rule and reinvented fashion. The brand fashion shows became legends and so far never equaled. Decade after decade, Thierry Mugler signed special looks that shaped the way women look, feel and seduce.

And Fashion became an explosive show

Thierry Mugler is more than 80 fashion shows in 20 years. He reinvented the way fashion catwalked. Victoria Secret did not invent anything. Just have a look at the mise en scene by Mugler. Here are my favorite Mugler fashion shows of all time:

Haute Couture Fall/Winter 1984 – Zenith


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To celebrate Thierry Mugler’s tenth anniversary fall/winter 1984 collection, the designer staged a grandiose performance with a paying audience of 6,000 at the Zénith in Paris. It was the first time the French public had access to a fashion show. Incorporating film and stage direction into the production, Mugler depicted a model, La Madone, in an embroidered angel ensemble suspended above glass spires.

Haute Couture Fall/Winter 1995- Cirque d’Hiver

Haute Couture Fall/Winter 1997 – Paris

Thierry Mugler heritage

Thierry Mugler inspired a whole generation of fashion creators. His unique style gave wings to those who did not dare to fly. Here are some of the emblematic looks of the brand across time.

Thierry Mugler, Artistic collaborations

Thierry Mugler is like the city of New York: he never sleeps! He always have several on going projects and everything he does end with a tremendous success. Staging, choreography, clothing, music and the concept of his shows, Thierry Mugler is a craftsman and an artist. Here are some of his most iconic collaborations:

  • 1992 – Collaboration with Robert Altman and George Michael on the video clip “Too Funky”.
  • 1993 – He creates the famous Demi Moore black dress in Indecent Proposal
  • 2002 -Collaboration with Cirque du Soleil in the Zumanity show
  • 2009 – He was the artistic advisor for Beyonce on her Tour.
  • 2013 – Under his birth name Manfred Mugler, he creates Mugler Folies
  • 2014 – He creates the show Wyld in Berlin, the most expensive show ever (outside Las Vegas)
  • 2016 – He created and directed the music video and staging for San Marino’s Eurovision Song Contest

And suddenly there was an Angel and its Star…

It is almost impossible to speak about Thierry Mugler without mentioning the brand fragrances and specially the 1992 Angel Eau de Parfum. This was a true revolution in the perfumery world, redefining olfactory sensuality and gourmandise. At its peak, there was an Angel flacon sold in the world every 10 seconds. From a very polarizing fragrance, Thierry Mugler created a beauty empire with the help of Clarins Group.

The beginning of the 90’s brought an end to the extravagances of the 80’s. The over-sexual fragrances, like Obsession by Calvin Klein, were over and a new trend for more spiritual fragrances took place. It was the era for Samsara by Guerlain, Tresor by Lancôme or L’Eau d’Issey by Miyake. The sensuality of the spirit instead of the sexiness of the body. Interesting times.

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When Mr Mugler started the project of Angel, the challenge was bigger than usual. For him, life should always be surprising and extraordinary and for his fragrance he wanted something never saw, never imagined and above all never smelt! To support the creator, Clarins (the owner of the Mugler Fragrance development) trusted Ms Vera Strübi. We say often that behind a great man there is always a great woman. Here it is totally the case. She was the engine and the soul of the legend creation of Thierry Mugler Parfums. She wrote the name of Mugler in golden letters in the Fragrance industry history. The fragrance was created by Oliver Cresp, perfumer at that time at Quest International, one of the worldwide fragrance houses. She was supported by the creativity of Mr. Yves de Chiris, creative director at Quest and Fragrance Guru, who supported all this “path opening”.

Each point of the marketing mix was a “first time” in the fragrance industry. And only a creator such as Thierry Mugler could dare such an audacious project.

  • A blue fragrance? Never done, not possible? Still it is the color of Angel fragrance.
  • A star shaped crystal flacon? Never done, not possible? Still it is the Angel flacon.
  • A scent that reveals gustative notes inspired by the food market? Never done, not possible? Still it is the “Oriental Gourmand” fragrance of Angel.

The unlimited creativity of Mr. Mugler was reflected on the theatralization of his fashion shows, the daring of his outfits and the allure of the Mugler woman.

25 years after the launch of Angel, Mugler keeps creating astonishing fragrances. With the launch of Aura Mugler, it is a new woman who is presented. As explained by Sandrine Groslier, CEO of Clarins Fragrance Group, Mugler is the freedom of reinventing itself. This is an incredible power in a market. Most of brands believe they have too much at stake to risk  any kind of creativity. And here is why Mugler stands out.

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What now?

Since opening his house in 1974, the designer has given his imagination free rein and expressed his creativity in several different artistic fields. Day after day, he works to create a world that blends fantasy, extravagance and experimentation. It is a futuristic space and time in which the strength of the unexpected, the power of audacity, and creativity that knows no bounds take flight. It is a place where metamorphosis reigns.

Uniting dualities, the world of MUGLER under the creative direction of Casey Cadwallader (appointed in January 2018) is a laboratory for change. Harnessing the transformative spirit of the house founder, MUGLER stands for a forward-thinking and disruptive approach to fashion through the lens of culture.

While Thierry Mugler as a brand pursuit its way into the future of fashion and beauty, the man behind the “griffe” pursuits his journey by multiplying new projects, From Mugler Folies to The Wyld, his latest show, he never sleeps and has always something new to propose. With the Wyld, there was 500 performances in Berlin and more than 800’000 attendees.

Thierry Mugler legacy is more than never alive. His style, his ambition and his vision brought a profound change in fashion and in the way creators could free themselves from any rule. The power of Mugler is to source in its endless universe to reinvent the future. Every year, every decade, the Mugler brand is relevant for the l’air du temps. The brand was probably born under a lucky star but the talented people working behind or in front of the scenes are definitely responsable for the success.

José Amorim

Information sourced by the author for luxuryactivist.com. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available. Images are for illustration purposes only.

José Amorim

José Amorim has been working in the luxury industry for more than 15 years. In the past 8 years, he joined his personal passion for digital culture and his luxury background to develop digital strategies for premium brands. He is the founder of LuxuryActivist.com and is happy to share his passion here.