Thierry Mugler

A seemingly endless imagination and power of creation is to this day the hallmark of the house of Mugler. The house founded by Thierry Mugler in 1976, whose new creative director is Nicola Formichetti, continues to live and create fashion in his spirit: unreal, dreamlike, excessive, irrational, outrageous, exuberant and theatrical are only a few words to describe the magical fashion fairytales created by Thierry Mugler.

Thierry Mugler was born in Strasbourg in 1948, “a city at the crossroads of Latin and Germanic culture, ‘where tales of legends (…) are part of the marvelous, the unreal, the dreamlike, the irrational’” (Bott, 10). After having danced classical ballet at the Opéra du Rhin and studied interior design at the Collège des Arts Decoratifs in Strasbourg, he arrived in Paris at the age of twenty. While he, with his exuberant imagination was a misfit in the small city of Strasbourg, Paris welcomed him as one of their own.

Although several sources claim that we worked as a freelance designer for different ready-to-wear houses in Paris previously to founding his company on 1974, none seems to be able to identify them. However, he showed his first collection in 1977 in Paris and opened his first boutique a year later. In 1992 he showed his first couture collection at the Hotel Ritz in Paris and launched his famous perfume Angel. In 1997, the Clarins group acquired the majority stake in Thierry Mugler Couture, which led to his departure from fashion in 2000.

Since he had been a young boy, Mugler had been fascinated with comic strips, an influence later felt in his drawings as well as in his collections. He also had a thing for vampires, science fiction and all things fantastic. From his time in ballet, he learned the transformative power of costume and make up, and the importance of every little detail in a production. Thus, the spectacle became his hallmark.

His style is most recognizable by the out-of-proportions silhouettes he creates. Hips and shoulders are often enforced and padded in order to create an armor-like image, thus making the women into Amazonians ready for combat. Often working with metal and corseted dresses or bodices, he recreates a second body: a body with extreme curves and edges, anatomically constructed but with additional geometric shapes or robot-like hinges. His designs are transgressive, transformational and even evolutionary in the way they alter the human body underneath. The digital age is clearly felt in his designs of the nineties, in which women become fembots or cyborgs, who seem to be composite beings part human, part machine. In other collections he would re-create mythical figures, part human part animal, giving his models insect-like sunglasses, or “Ant” suits or butterfly wings. Although his designs were in such ways over-exaggerated, he always managed to keep the general appearance very, if not hyper-, feminine.
Mugler also continued working with musicians and artists such as George Michael, for whom he directed and styled the video Too Funky and Beyoncé, whose I Am Tour he directed and created the outfits for – a tradition that is now continued by the constant cooperation between Formichetti (on whom I will write an article soon – meanwhile, check out his wonderful Fall 2012 Hommage an Thierry’s Les Insects of 1992) and Lady Gaga.


Bott, Danièle. Thierry Mugler. Galaxy Glamour. Thames & Hudson, London. 2010. Print

Garratt, Sheryl. “Thierry Mugler is back after a Decade in the Fashion Wilderness.” The Telegraph. May 21, 2009. Online.


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