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Thierry Mugler exhibition coming to Paris

By Danielle Wightman-Stone



Image: Stern, May 1979 — Spirale futuriste collection, Prêt-à-porter fall/winter 1979-1980 by Peter Knapp

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris will open the ‘Thierry Mugler: Couturissime’ retrospective exhibition in September, after being delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The exhibition on Thierry Mugler, which first made its debut at Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts in 2019, will retrace his five decades of work in fashion, haute couture and perfume, and will include an entirely new section dedicated to his bestselling fragrance, Angel.

Opening on September 30, 2021, and running until April 24, 2022, the exhibition will span two floors in the newly renovated Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman Fashion Galleries of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and will feature ready-to-wear and haute couture silhouettes to stage costumes, photographs, films and unpublished archives dating from 1973 to 2014.

This will not be a classic retrospective, explained the museum, instead, the exhibition will “encapsulate the life and energy that defined the historic collaborations between Thierry Mugler and his creative alter-ego Manfred”.

Image: Jerry Hall — Les Insectes collection Haute couture spring/summer 1997 © Dominique Issermann

It will be organised in “several acts like a classic opera, thematically blends costumes, animated projections, photographs and music, creating varying atmospheres that personify the numerous projects Mugler has championed since the end of the 1970s,” the museum said in a statement.

Thierry Mugler retrospective to open in September at Musée des Arts Décoratifs

It will open with an aquatic-themed room, designed to evoke an eccentric world of fantasy-inspired fauna, from the ocean’s surface to the depths of the sea and will Mugler’s creations inspired by insects, robots and futuristic automobiles. Highlights will include flamboyant and futuristic silhouettes from Mugler’s Insect and Chimères collection of 1997/1998 with high, piercing shoulders, plunging décolletés, and surreal hourglass waistlines.

Image: Les Insectes collection — haute couture spring/summer 1997 Rubber suit, “tire” effect Collaboration with Abel Villarreal © Patrice Stable

This leads into an area dedicated to his fragrance ‘Angel,’ launched in 1992, described as “an olfactory revolution that launched the trend of high-end perfumes,” by the museum.

While on the second floor, a photography section features rare prints by the likes of Guy Bourdin, Karl Lagerfeld, David LaChapelle, Herb Ritts, and Ellen von Unwerth, as well as Mugler’s collaboration with Helmut Newton. This room is also dedicated to the photographic achievements of Mugler himself who, in 1976, began photographing his own visual campaigns, playing on the glamour and beauty of his muses, from Jerry Hall to Iman, in exotic locations such as Greenland, the Sahara Desert, and the rooftop of the Paris Opera House.

Music also plays a huge part in the Mugler story, with George Michael’s song and music video ‘Too Funky,’ which Mugler directed in 1991. Other highlights include outfits worn in the music videos by top models Linda Evangelista, Eva Herzigova, Emma Sjöberg, Estelle Lefebure, transgender model Connie Girl.

Image: Emma Sjöberg during the shooting of the video for George Michael’s song “Too Funky” — Paris, 1992 Directed by Thierry Mugler Les Cow-boys collection Prêt-à-porter spring/summer 1992 © Patrice Stable

There will also be a look at how Mugler’s catwalks launched the phenomenon of celebrities-as-models, inviting Hollywood celebrities such as Diana Ross, Tippi Hedren and Sharon Stone to participate as models, staging elaborate backgrounds and producing original soundtracks for their walks.

Thierry Mugler: Couturissime to highlight the designers work in fashion, haute couture and perfume

The exhibition concludes with a showcase of costumes Mulger designed for the stage, including works devised for the theatrical production of Macbeth presented by the Comédie-Française at the Festival d’Avignon in 1985. Mugler’s design for the character of the first witch, along with his original sketches displayed in life-sized proportions on the wall and a multimedia installation by Michel Lemieux (4D Art), are just a few examples of the designs intended to transport the visitor back to this tragic Shakespearean world.

Musée des Arts Décoratifs concluded in its statement: “Thierry Mugler, Couturissime is an opportunity to discover and rediscover the brilliance of this artist, and in turn, dancer, man of the stage, photographer and designer – an artist who marked his time by revolutionising the world of fashion through his creations with sculptural morphologies that are both futuristic and elegant.

“Mugler’s distinctive style transcends fashion, having influenced generations of artists to this very day.”

Image: Anniversaire des 20 ans collection — Haute couture fall/winter 1995-1996 © Patrice Stable
Thierry Mugler