And Mugler orchestrated his vogue exhibits – exhibits being the operative phrase right here. Now, within the age of Instagram, as fashions glide by practically impassive for smartphone snaps and movies in quarter-hour flat (and even much less), we overlook that vogue exhibits was once main productions, and no person did them larger or splashier or campier than Thierry Mugler.
Back once I was a mannequin within the early ’80s in Paris, I keep in mind listening to about high mannequin Pat Cleveland, wearing jewel-emblazoned white robes because the Virgin Mary, descending from the ceiling of the Zénith live performance corridor on a platform in a cloud of smoke to the soundtrack of “Kings of Kings”, as rose petals showered the stage. (Appropriately, Cleveland was six months pregnant.) As one can see within the “Couturissime” exhibit, Jerry Hall vamped it up on Mugler’s runways, as did drag queens and former porn star Traci Lords. All have been wearing his sharply tailor-made fits – these fits! With their linebacker shoulders and their Jessica Rabbit waists! – and his Glamazon get-ups. “They appeared futuristic,” Mugler defined on our name. “But whenever you look intently, you see they’re handmade, with the human contact. We did the not possible.”
For the Thierry Mugler model’s twentieth anniversary present – the autumn/winter high fashion 1995 assortment on the Cirque d’Hiver in Paris – he didn’t simply outdo vogue, he outdid himself. There all of us have been within the Belle Époque circus corridor, watching famous person fashions of each period – Carmen Dell’Orefice, Veruschka von Lehndorff, Jerry Hall, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss – in addition to actresses Julie Newmar and Tippi Hedren parade down a pair of white runways linked by a spiral staircase in Mugler’s designs. Out got here Nadja Auermann in a gold robotic get-up that made her appear like R2-D2. Media heiress Patty Hearst whipped off her garments in a striptease. James Brown – that’s proper, the Godfather of Soul himself – closed the present with a efficiency of “Sex Machine”, as male go-go dancers cavorted round him, and confetti rained down on all of us.
Happily, movies of all of this, and extra, are on show within the “Couturissime” exhibit, which is able to proceed to journey around the globe after its Paris run. In homage to Mugler, the museum is providing free admission to the exhibit at the moment. As the museum’s director Olivier Gabet defined to me this afternoon, it was Mugler’s over-the-top exhibits that gave us the blowouts by John Galliano and Alexander McQueen within the late ’90s and early 2000s. “Mugler was forward of his time when it got here to exhibits in addition to empowering girls via design,” Gabet mentioned. “He made feminism attractive and highly effective, whether or not it was fashions on his runway within the Nineties, or Kim Kardashian and Cardi B now. He was all about empowerment.”
Mugler concurred. When he designed the costumes for Lady Macbeth, he considered her as “a superhero, and an excellent fighter”. He instructed me he needed girls to look “provocative” and “sturdy” with out forsaking magnificence.
As Mugler and I wound up our dialog final fall – one stuffed with a variety of laughter, and a variety of pleasure – I requested him how he was going to spend his afternoon in Paris.
“I’m going to see Christo’s Arc de Triomphe, after all,” he mentioned, of the deceased artist’s posthumous wrapping of town centrepiece.
“How are you able to miss that?”
Dana Thomas is a contributing editor at British Vogue. Her e book, Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes, is out now.