On Jan. 23, the sad news broke of Thierry Mugler passing away. A pillar of the fashion industry: innovative and non-conventional, the fashion icon left an unforgettable mark on the whole world. From haute couture to perfumes to creative directing with megastars, Mugler was a multi-faceted artist. His continuous shape-shifting, metamorphosing talent paved the way for many other creatives. But, also spans across different varying mediums.
Let’s remember Thierry Mugler and his monumental life in fashion.
The “Alien – Angel” (The Icon)
Manfred Thierry Mugler was born in Strasbourg, France on Dec. 21, 1948. His passion led him to focus more on drawing than on school. When he was 9-years-old, he began to study classical dance. By age 14, he joined the ballet corps for the Rhin Opera (Opéra national du Rhin).
At the same time, Mugler began formal interior design training at the Strasbourg School of Decorative Arts.
In the 1970s, Mugler launched his eponymous fashion house; quickly rose to prominence in the following decades for his avant-garde, architectural, hyperfeminine, and theatrical approach to haute couture. In 1971, in his early 20s, Mugler began experimenting with broad-shoulders, 1940s-derived looks he would become famous for in later years. In 1973, Mugler created his first personal collection called “Café de Paris.” The style of the collection was both sophisticated and urban. Melka Tréanton, a powerful fashion editor, helped to launch his career.
Mugler’s first perfume appeared in 1992 and was called “Angel.” “Angel” contains a combination of praline and chocolate mixed with a strong accord of patchouli. It would be a part of a new fragrance type called gourmand. It became one of the best-selling perfumes of the 20th century. In 2005, “Alien” was created, the second major Thierry Mugler fragrance. “Angel” and “Alien” collectively produced about $280 million in sales annually. This means that these two perfumes are not only his coveted crown jewels from his superb collection of high-end fragrances. But also an everlasting hit till this day, even in the MENA region, Khaleeji men and women are never short of a bottle of perfume from this “Alien/ Angel” of an artist.
Terrestrial Encounters (The Legacy)
During the 1980s and 1990s, Mugler became an internationally recognized designer, often grouped with Claude Montana and Azzedine Alaïa but known especially for his shapely suits, and his collections garnered much commercial success.
His fashion shows were extravagant affairs, held in arena-like environments and the collections associated with them. Themes ranged from sci-fi, the late 70s, Africa, vampire-devil, and more. At the request of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, he completed his first haute couture collection in 1992.
He designed signature looks for huge names like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Grace Jones, David Bowie, and Diana Ross; most notably Demi Moore’s dress from the 1993 movie, “Indecent Proposal,” which was once coined ‘The most famous dress of the 1990s.’
He was one of the first designers to champion diversity in his runway shows, which often tackled racism and ageism, and incorporated non-traditional models such as drag queens, adult film stars, and transgender women.
Arabian Days and Nights
Mugler’s designs and perfumes took the Arabic market by storm, with stability in the UAE and Saudi. Places like the Mall of The Emirates and Fashion Avenue at the Dubai Mall are a destination for high-end shoppers and fashion enthusiasts to find all of his iconic pieces.
However, it goes far beyond that. With a collaboration between the designer, Kim Kardashian, and Vogue Arabia, Vogue Arabia’s Editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut said “Thierry Mugler was simply genius. And so I wondered, what if we ask the legendary designer to completely reinvent Kim’s image for our September cover shoot, taking the role of an art director?”
And so the rest was history, the photoshoot took place in the California desert with Kim K dressed in vintage Mugler haute couture. The cover was adored by the public, “Muglerizing” Kim K and showing her off in a completely different light. Mugler says about the whole experience, “I appreciate the excellent work of this young magazine. I’ve always been inspired by Arabia.”
All and all, the one-of-a-kind designer will be missed and remembered worldwide. Especially in the Arab world.