Remembering Iconic French Designer Thierry Mugler
Updated: Jan 26, 2022
World renowned, openly gay French fashion designer Manfred Thierry Mugler has died at the age of 73.
In a press release from his official Instagram, it was announced the designer passed away on Sunday, Jan. 23 in France due to natural causes.
Born in Strasbourg, France, Thierry Mugler developed an interest in drawing and design at an early age. He studied ballet briefly at the Opéra national du Rhin before going on to attend The Strasbourg School of Decorative Design where he would major in interior design.
Mugler later moved to London where he began to work and design in the boutique arena. After time in London, the designer found himself in the fashion capital of the world--- Paris, and the rest was history.
Mugler launched his eponymous brand in the early 70s and quickly rose to fame for his multi-dimensional, hyper-fem designs. His take on haute couture ushered in a revolutionary design aesthetic, forcing him to stand out in the industry.
George Michael tapped the designer to help bring the visual for his dance hit "Too Funky" to life. Thierry designed the looks for the models of which included Linda Evangelista, Tyra Banks, Beverly Peele and trans-icon Connie Fleming.
Mugler was a beloved LGBTQ ally who fought extensively for queer rights. Throughout his career, he showcased many trans models, like Connie Fleming, Teri Toye and Roberta Close, according to The Los Angeles Blade.
Often pulling inspiration from wildlife, robotics, and nature, Mugler helped popularize the use of exaggerated shapes, futuristic aesthetics and ultra-fem silhouettes. Some of his most famed designs included a mix of couture fabric with non-traditional fabrics like vinyl, rubber etc.
Although by the 2000s Mugler had retired from fashion, he would often make collaborate with artists to create and lend looks.
He most famously lent Beyonce the iconic Harley Davison corset for a video and designed a 58-piece wardrobe set for the UK leg of her 'I am... Sasha Fierce' tour.
Mugler has also worked with the likes of Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga and, more recently, rapper Cardi B.
Cardi was lucky enough to score three archival looks for the 2019 Grammys and a custom look for the 2020 show.
On the passing of Thierry, Cardi wrote on her Instagram "Mr. Mugler was one of the FIRST designers to take a major chance on me".. she continues "Mr. Mugler was still putting his foot on necks at 73 years old!!! A true inspiration for all of us".
Thierry's physical image had taken on several changes throughout the years. Most noticeable were the changes made to not only his physical body, but also his face. He had been involved in a jeep crash and a subsequent motorcycle accident. Both incidents led the designer to seek out help from top plastic surgeons.
He reportedly asked one surgeon to add a piece of bone from his hip into his chin, to avoid using any plastic or silicon. During a sit-down with Interview magazine, he shared "It’s all bones. I wanted my face to represent progress, because after years of being a thin, charming dancer, I wanted to be a warrior. I’ve done so much in my life. I’ve fought so much. I’m a superhero, so it’s normal to have the face of one"
When it came to diversity Thierry was ahead of the curve, often including models of different size, race, and age in his couture shows. His shows became a highlight of fashion week. He would put on extravagant productions, often including operatic themes, theatrical storylines and music.
Thierry was not just a designer, but a visionary. Among fashion, he also enjoyed photography and body building.
He once told Interview magazine, "I never say I'm a fashion designer. I've always felt like a director, and the clothes I did were a direction of the every day".
After years of keeping private and covid-related delays, prior to his death Mr. Mugler agreed to an exhibition with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibit titled "Thierry Mugler: Couturissime" is a journey through the designer's history in fashion and impact on present-day culture. Last fall Thierry was able to bring the exhibit to the Arts Décoratifs in Paris during Paris Fashion Week.
May he rest in heavenly peace.