Thierry Mugler’s Couturissime Exhibition Comes to Paris

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“I had to try to create my own world.” Designer Thierry Mugler once said.

Mugler invented a new way of merging fashion into an art form with his love of theater and dance. The designer retired in 2003 to focus on photography, fragrance, and other creative endeavors, but audiences around the world are still obsessing over Mugler’s creative vision. He believed that women could be chic, futuristic, and eccentric redefining playfulness and empowerment for women’s fashion since his start as his own designer with his namesake label in 1976. Prior to his fashion endeavors, he developed an understanding of performance when he joined the Ballet of the National Rhine Opera at 14, where he danced professionally for six years followed by working as a window designer for the French boutique Gudule.

He pushed the limits to create the ultimate silhouettes in a fantasy world. Wearing lingerie as outerwear. Wide shoulders and shoulder pads, tiny waists, exaggerated collars, power suits, moulin rouge outfits, oversized hats, see-through gowns, high-tech inspired, perfectly tailored suits, corsets, victorian collars, waffly skirts, Mugler redefined the history of fashion alongside Azzedine Alaïa and Jean Paul Gaultier. He made body-conscious clothes and a modern silhouette of glamour. To make people dream and tell stories with the clothes with modern sexy clothes. He drew inspiration from everything he touched and smelled to create clothes that delight the audience’s senses such as animals, motorcycles, birds, film noir, insects, to name a few of his attention-grabbing outfits. Art inspired him to create a black gown inspired by Artist John Singer Sargent’s Madame X and other designers such as Jean Louis.

He made theatrical, concert-like fashion shows possible with appearances of GoGo dancers, gymnasts, and bodybuilders alongside supermodels Jerry Hall, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Veruschka von Lehndorff, Nadja Auermann, Simonetta Gianfelici. Socialite Patty Hearst and musicians Diana Ross and James Brown made appearances at Mugler’s fantastical shows. The designs walking down a runway were like characters from a short story or scenes from a film where models had their own dramatic choreography to perform onstage. Mugler revolutionized the boundaries of casting when drag queens such as Jeff Stryker and Traci Lords while also having pornographic movie stars walking the Mugler runway.

He was revolutionary for using unconventional materials to create new shapes like metal corsets with crystals, PVC, plexiglass, and acetate. Where his corsets were famously worn by Madonna on her concert tours. Many superstars followed in wearing his archive including Beyoncé, David Bowie, Cardi B, and Lady Gaga. To help fuel his vision for a world that didn’t exist. Nowadays, Mugler’s standard of sexy is seen all over Instagram with crop tops, corsets, exposed bras, stockings paired with baggy jeans, and cargo pants. The latest trend of exaggerated silhouettes to emphasize more form-fitting curves is a legacy of the career is a hidden homage to the designer on the internet. Speaking of the internet and digitized fashion, he embraced technology as the first designer to create a virtual fashion show on the computer in 1998.

Curated by Thierry-Maxime Loriot, Couturissime will feature a vast collection of ready-to-wear, Haute Couture, costumes, unseen sketches, photographs, films, and unpublished archives from 1973 to 2014. Mugler’s universe of mixing entertainment, music, and film is showcased in 150 looks. It accompanies fashion photography legends Guy Bourdin, Karl Lagerfeld, Luigi & lango, Helmut Newton, Jean-Paul Goude, Dominique Issermann, David LaChapelle, Sarah Moon, Pierre et Gilles, Paolo Roversi, Herb Ritts, and Ellen von Unwerth.

    This is the first time Mugler has opened his archives to the public. The successful traveling exhibition from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) in 2019 followed by museums in Rotterdam, and Munich will now enter France in the fall.

    Thierry Mugler, Couturissime will be on view from September 30, 2021 to April 24, 2022 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

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