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Thierry Mugler, Genre-Busting French Fashion Designer, Dies at 73 Thierry Mugler, Genre-Busting French Fashion Designer, Dies at 73
(about 2 hours later)
Thierry Mugler, the outrageous, genre-busting designer who dominated European runways in the late 1980s and early 1990s, died Sunday. He was 73. Thierry Mugler, the outrageous, genre-busting French designer who dominated European runways in the late 1980s and early 1990s, died on Sunday. He was 73.
His death was announced on his brand’s official Instagram. “#RIP,” it said. “We are devastated to announce the passing of Mr. Manfred Thierry Mugler on Sunday January 23rd 2022. May his soul Rest In Peace.” His death was announced on his brand’s official Instagram. “#RIP,” it said. “We are devastated to announce the passing of Mr. Manfred Thierry Mugler on Sunday Jan. 23, 2022. May his soul Rest In Peace.”
Reached Sunday evening, two of his close friends confirmed his death, but declined to be interviewed, both saying they were too upset. No cause of death was given. Reached on Sunday evening, two of his close friends confirmed his death. No cause was given.
Mr. Mugler was one of the principal architects of a late eighties aesthetic that married S&M and high fashion. His silhouette was a kind of inverse triangle with giant shoulders and a nipped waist. He loved latex, leather, and curves. Mr. Mugler, born in Strasbourg, France, was one of the principal architects of a late-’80s aesthetic that married S&M and high fashion. His silhouette was a kind of inverse triangle with giant shoulders and a nipped waist. He loved latex, leather and curves.
His early muses included Grace Jones and Joey Arias. He had a longstanding creative collaboration with David Bowie, and even dressed him for his wedding to Iman. His unprecious sensibility led him from couture to putting together a tremendously successful Cirque Du Soleil show in Las Vegas. Long after he went into a state of semiretirement in the early 2000s, his perfume Angel remained wildly successful. His early muses included Grace Jones and Joey Arias. He had a longstanding creative collaboration with David Bowie, and even dressed him for his wedding to Iman. And George Michael’s “Too Funky” was effectively a televised Mugler show.
Alexander McQueen’s punk posh sensibility owed much credit to Mr. Mugler’s work. As did Lady Gaga’s early “Bad Romance” look. In the video, Linda Evangelista was done up like a space-age Cruella De Vil, wearing a peroxide blond wig and dripping in fur. Another model strode out in a metal Harley-Davidson inspired bustier with actual motorcycle handles sticking out of each side of the waist, rearview mirrors attached to the breasts, and a headlight in the center.
Mr. Mugler was also known to have dressed some of the biggest names in Hollywood and beyond, and made something of a comeback in 2019 by dressing Kim Kardashian for the Met Gala. The “wet dress” Mr. Mugler designed for Ms. Kardashian introduced him to millions of new fans. But Mr. Mugler’s unabashed embrace of gay iconography overshadowed his spectacular tailoring and construction technique, ghettoizing him at a time when the AIDS epidemic had become a political battleground.
His current creative director Casey Cadwallader said, “Manfred, I am so honored to have known you and to work within your beautiful world. You changed our perception of beauty, of confidence, of representation, and self empowerment. Your legacy is something I carry with me in everything I do. Thank you.” “The outwardness of designers embracing being gay wasn’t then a thing,” said Paul Cavaco, who during Mugler’s heyday was fashion director of Harper’s Bazaar. “People knew but you didn’t really talk about it. It was considered not chic. And here he was sending drag queens like Lypsinka down the runway.”
So even at Bazaar, which at the time was arguably the most adventurous American fashion magazine, Mr. Mugler’s clothes were largely passed over, Mr. Cavaco said.
In 1997, Mr. Mugler’s brand was purchased by Clarins, the beauty conglomerate.
Whether Mr. Mugler happily left his brand in 2002 or jumped out of the industry to avoid being pushed, he continued to work. In 2003, he served as the creator of Zumanity, a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas that featured his good friend Mr. Arias, much lace and many corsets. It ran until March 2020, when the emergence of the coronavirus caused theaters around the world to shut down. Mr. Mugler’s perfume Angel remained wildly successful. A new generation of pop stars and designers mined him for inspiration.
Alexander McQueen’s punk-posh sensibility owed much credit to Mr. Mugler’s work. As did Lady Gaga’s early “Bad Romance” look. Beyoncé wore the old motorcycle bustier on the cover of her 2009 album “I Am … Sasha Fierce.”
Around that time, Mr. Mugler’s own extreme physical transformation into a comic-book, leather-gear-wearing supervillain became tabloid fodder. Nude photos of him with pecs wide as a city block leaked across the internet. He began calling himself Manfred.
Then, as red carpets became glorified reality shows in which celebrities competed to outdo one another in the category of campy theatricality, Mr. Mugler made a comeback.
Cardi B showed up to the Grammys looking like a Disney princess in a flesh-toned bodice, with sequins across her chest and a blooming skirt that shot up from behind her — a human pearl, nestled in her pink shell. A few months later, Kim Kardashian made her entrance at the Met Gala in a Mugler-designed dress that made her every curve appear to have been drenched in high fructose corn syrup (or something else). Those viral looks introduced him to millions of new fans. The current creative director for Mugler, Casey Cadwallader, said on Instagram that Mr. Mugler “changed our perception of beauty, of confidence, of representation and self empowerment.”
A full obituary is forthcoming.A full obituary is forthcoming.
Christine Chung contributed reporting.Christine Chung contributed reporting.