Kim Kardashian in mourning. The socialite mourns the death of the great designer Manfred Theirry Mugler, who died today at the age of 73. Although this man stepped away from fashion in 2002, he remained a towering figure in the industry and his early designs have been discovered by a new generation of powerful women.
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After seeing Mugler’s work at the Costume Institute’s “Superheroes” exhibition in 2008, Beyoncé commissioned costumes on tour. More recently, her spectacular looks have been sought after by the likes of Cardi B. and Kim Kardashian.
It was Kim Kardashian who just dedicated a heartfelt message of mourning on her Instagram:
“Manfred Thierry Mugler – my heart breaks. There is no one like you! Your vision, your transformations, your magic! I am so honored to have met you, to have spent time with you and to be a muse to you.
Kim Kardashian continued: “There was so much more to show the world that we had planned to do together, but you already gave us so much. I will never forget our time together around the world and learning from the master himself about what couture really meant! You always said that beauty will save the world, and you really believed it was a better place because of the beauty around it! Thank you for the beauty.”
To complete her message, Kim Kardashian said:
“I love you so much. My condolences go out to Manfred’s family, his friends, JB and his amazing team, and everyone who loved him and whose lives he has touched.”
Who was Manfred Theirry Mugler?
Designer Manfred Theirry Mugler was commissioned, for example, for Kim Kardashian’s “wet look” for the 2019 Costume Institute Gala.
Strength and display were the pillars of Mugler’s work. Her archetype was an Amazonian woman, commanding and commanding, but still with a sense of humor and flirtatiousness.
Mugler’s clothing was worn in several Helmut Newton for Vogue shoots in the 1980s, and it’s easy to see a synchronicity in the two men’s focus on sensuality, open narratives and fun.
Mugler’s “type” was the femme fatale, and his preferred silhouettes were the inverted triangle with exaggerated power shoulders and the defined hourglass shape. The idea of the wasp waist took on new dimensions when he envisioned his models as insects for his spring 1997 couture.
In other collections, Mugler presented women as robots, motorcycles, and even clams, but he could also see them as goddesses and angels. In one case, a pregnant Pat Cleveland, like the Madonna, was lowered onto the floor from above.
Born in Strasbourg in 1948, Muger studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and danced with the opera there. He made the leap to Paris in 1966, where he worked for other designers and as a photographer.
Showcasing his first creations in 1973 and founding his namesake label the following year, he quickly became known for his forceful cuts and vision. This is how editor Mary Russell, writing in Vogue in 1977, first introduced Mugler to readers:
“Thierry Mugler is a loner. He will take off for Africa or India for months at a time, alone, with a pair of jeans in a sack. A former dancer with a completely individual feeling for form and colour, he uses his sense of theater and the ballet to develop the themes of their shows.
The clothes, however, can be separated and, when seen on racks in their showroom, they are the wisest and most regal pieces one could wish for. For her new boutique on La Place des Victoires, she designed the mannequins and jewelry, all very luxurious but brut (gold threads on raw linen, for example). Thierry and [su compañero diseñador] Claude Montana talk to each other every day, but they never discuss a collection.”
In tune with the body awareness of the 1970s and ’80s, physicality was an important aspect of Mugler’s work, although he was equally concerned with craftsmanship and materiality. Even in the photographs it is possible to see how Mugler took control of the fabric, cutting and twisting it to his will.
Her more extreme looks, like the motorcycle dress, are almost designed; in fact, Vogue once praised its “aerodynamic, scalpel-cut details.”
Mugler used his prodigious skills to take fashion into other fantastical realms; and in various media.
According to The New York Times, Angel, Mugler’s best-selling fragrance, is “credited as the first gourmand scent due to its unusual gastronomic components.” The perfume was launched in 1992, the same year George Michael hired the designer to film the “Too Funky” video, a follow-up to “Freedom ’90” starring some of the same supermodels.
Mugler’s work in fashion intersected with surrealism, science fiction, and fetishism. Some considered his work sexist or stepping into the wardrobe (in 2003 Mugler would be hired by Cirque du Soleil), but it could also be seen as empowering.
The expansive possibilities for transformation were important to Mugler’s work and life. When he stepped away from fashion, the designer went back to using his birth name, Manfred. Through bodybuilding and surgery he altered his appearance.
Having been a performer himself, Mugler understood the need to exaggerate for impact (audiences, after all, can’t see the details). His shows were full theater, with castings and celebrity performances.
Vogue reported that his 1982 ready-to-wear collection was presented in “twenty-two ‘scenes’ in a music-hall revue style that left an audience clapping with delight.” Mugler’s most celebrated outing is his cirque d’Hiver show for the fall of 1995, marking his 20th year in business.
In 2019, 45 years after presenting his first designs under his own name, a retrospective, “Thierry Mugler: Couturissime”, was held in Canada. It opened at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris last September.
“What he did is so unique; he wrote collection after collection of fashion history without knowing it,” curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot said at the time. It’s almost as if it’s not about fashion: Mugler didn’t follow trends or refer to fashion history. It’s festive and immersive – it created its own world.”
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Kim Kardashian in mourning