Arts

Remembering Thierry Mugler’s subversive, singular genius: 6 most iconic collabs from Bowie to Beyoncé

Patrick Kelleher January 24, 2022
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Manfred Thierry Mugler attends the "Thierry Mugler : Couturissime" Photocall.

Manfred Thierry Mugler attends the "Thierry Mugler : Couturissime" Photocall. (Richard Bord/WireImage)

To say Manfred Thierry Mugler lived an extravagant life seems like an understatement.

The acclaimed French fashion designer created extraordinary, otherworldly garments for some of the biggest names in the world throughout his remarkable career. 

There was an enormous outpouring of grief when news of his death broke on Sunday (23 January). It immediately became clear just how far Mugler’s influence extended. He wasn’t simply a fashion designer, he was a cornerstone of pop culture who dominated the world and constantly revitalised his work.

Thierry Mugler started his rapid ascent to stardom in the early 1970s – and it wasn’t long before he developed his broad-shouldered, 1940s inspired look. His career took off almost immediately.

 

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Mugler was “a visionary whose imagination as a couturier, perfumer and image-maker empowered people around the world to be bolder and dream bigger every day”, read a tribute on his namesake brand’s Instagram page.

To celebrate Mugler’s life, we take a look back at some of his most extravagant, fabulous creations – the outfits that cemented his place as a true icon.

1. Thierry Mugler’s creative partnership with Beyoncé was a dream come true

Beyoncé wearing Thierry Mugler.
Beyoncé wearing Thierry Mugler. (DAVID X PRUTTING/Patrick McMullan via)

Thierry Mugler officially retired from the famous Mugler brand in 2003 – but his work didn’t stop there. In the years that followed, he ventured further into contemporary pop culture, and he continued to shake the very foundations of fashion.

One of Mugler’s most successful partnerships was with Beyoncé. He served as artistic director on the singer’s I Am… world tour in 2009 – he created the costumes, and he also played a big role in the show’s overall production.

Beyoncé’s costumes from that tour are still the most iconic of her career to this day. In Mugler, she found a true visionary.

The singer paid tribute to Mugler on her official website following his death by sharing a throwback black and white picture of him wearing a leather vest.

2. David Bowie shattered gender norms by wearing Mugler’s creations

David Bowie wearing Thierry Mugler in the 1970s.
David Bowie wearing Thierry Mugler in the 1970s. (YouTube)

David Bowie and Thierry Mugler were, in many ways, a match made in heaven.

In the 1970s, Bowie quickly became a household name – but he developed a particularly ardent fanbase among queer people of the day with his commitment to androgyny. 

Mugler helped Bowie in his mission. In the music video for “Boys Keep Swinging”, Bowie wore a beautiful, skin-tight Mugler gown. He didn’t wear it for laughs or as a joke – instead, he committed fully to the task at hand, and the result was utterly magnetic. 

Bowie later wore a Mugler dress on Saturday Night Live in 1979, proving once again that he was dedicated to high art and fashion.

3. Lady Gaga brought Mugler to a new generation 

Lady Gaga wearing Mugler in the music video for Telephone.
Lady Gaga wearing Mugler in the music video for Telephone. (YouTube)

Lady Gaga brought Thierry Mugler’s creations to a new generation when she donned vintage Mugler for her “Telephone” video. 

His creations helped create the image of Gaga we know and love today – eccentric, left-field, and firmly committed to self-expression. 

Lady Gaga later wore a Mugler dress to the 2011 Grammys – although fans only got to see it once she climbed out of the egg she arrived in. 

4. Thierry Mugler helped George Michael create one of his best music videos

George Michael made some truly iconic music videos and songs throughout his career, but one of his campest, most unabashedly queer tracks is 1992’s dance-infused “Too Funky”. 

The music video for “Too Funky” saw Michael directing a fictional runway show with models like Linda Evangelista and Tyra Banks strutting down the runway.

The entire thing was elevated further by the fact that that models were wearing custom-made Mugler costumes, including catsuits, corsets and lace gowns. One of those corsets was later worn by Beyoncé on her “I Am…” tour.

5. Mugler proved just how powerful he was when Diana Ross rocked the runway in 1991

Diana Ross is one of the biggest icons of her era, and she remains one of the most famous and influential singers in contemporary music – which naturally meant that she too had to work with Mugler.

In 1991, Ross walked the runway wearing Thierry Mugler to her classic song “I’m Coming Out”, and the result was truly something to behold. 

Ross was just one of the many famous faces who paid tribute to Mugler following news of his death on Sunday. She shared a throwback picture of the pair together, writing: “I will miss you Thierry Mugler this was a wonderful time in our lives.” 

6. Mugler was still making waves in 2019 at the Met Gala

Kim Kardashian West attends The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion.
Kim Kardashian West attends The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion. (Neilson Barnard/Getty)

The Met Gala is one of the biggest events in the fashion calendar – and it isn’t hard to see why. Each year, some of the world’s biggest stars turn up wearing outlandish costumes that push the boundaries of what fashion can achieve. 

In 2019, Kim Kardashian West did just that when she attended the Met Gala wearing a specially designed Mugler dress. The “wet look” dress was designed to make it look like Kardashian West had just walked out of the ocean.

That remarkable creation brought Mugler newfound fame and attention at a time when he was best known as a fashion legend of yesteryear. It proved unequivocally that Mugler would always be at the cutting edge of fashion for as long as he lived.

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