Mugler breaks out of the black and white box for its Spring/Summer 22 collection. The third instalment of the houses’ “trilogy” series directed by Torso Solutions and styled by Hayley Wollens entails a star-studded cast of beloved Mugler muses. Showcased in a cinematic film, niche creative director Casey Cadwallader reveals new sheer-cut-out looks devoted to personifying the very essence of the late designer.
Launched on June 8, the new line is a product of pop-star fashion infused with culture, flaunting the latest iteration of “pop star uniform”. Protagonists from the world of fashion and film collide in perplexing vignettes that appreciate identity and self-expression in a world full of “counterfeits and clones.” Cadwallader mirrors precisely the quintessence of Manfred Thierry Mugler himself – a true avant-garde artist, whose work insisted that you did not have to follow trends to be popular, instead you had to embrace your authentic self – to truly be who you are.
Unparalleled filmic authorship sees interwoven narratives of “doppelgangers and start-crossed lovers” in an action-packed duel for the camera’s attention. Chloë Sevigny, Adut Akech, Sora Choi, Dominque Jackson and more vigorously float across the screen in superhuman movement- comparable to a “shapeshifting army of sirens, warriors, vixens and acrobats.” Each model constantly breaks the fourth wall, looking back at forth at the camera, at us, as they showcase a vivid colour palette of monochromatic, earthy tones, denims, ombre pinks, purples and corals. As Cadwallader says:
“Mugler has always been so much about music, culture, and performance – then fashion is about image making. It just makes sense that these all can flow together.”
Cinched Waists and Otherworldly Designs
The film opens unveiling Mugler-muse-of-the-moment – Megan Thee Stallion. She is debuting Cadwallader’s new house trademark – illusion tulle. The new signature epitomises Mugler’s eternal contribution to fashion survived by his construction of the female silhouette. Continuity is realised in this trademark illusion tulle as curves are cinched and embraced and an otherworldly power and strength are given to women.
“The collection is really one of the most committed to illusion tulle that I have done, especially on jeans, where we took away the lycra and replaced it with illusion tulle.” He said.
Stallion, clad in Mugler’s most identifiable codes – a catsuit embraced by optic effects revealing portions of skin dominate the Los Angeles panorama on a virtual billboard. The film’s theme of power and realism is thus realised as the celebrity towers above us “mere mortals”.
The collection is in a constant state of action, showcased in a 360-degree warping camera movement, a nod to the return to “the breakneck speed of life.” Energy is breathed into the viewer, with the film’s abbreviated cuts and swift alternating camera movements. Blink and you’ll be sure to miss Chloë Sevigny dropping to the floor with the flip of her meter-long ponytail or Bella Hadid duplicating on a vintage limousine that also serves as a runway.
The Supermodel Pantheon
Cadwallader relies heavily on the performance of his muses to showcase versatility across an array of shapewear silhouettes, denim, eveningwear, and tailoring all worn by diverse bodies and identities. Thus, it seems that Thierry Mugler’s desire to look beyond the supermodel pantheon underscores Cadwallader’s narrative in the collection and film as inclusivity is prioritised. As critic Cathy Horyn said;
“Mugler’s shows have pretty much ceased to be about fashion per se. They are about the people who are in his shows – socialites, peroxided Lido stars, pop singers, bouffant transvestites – and in that sense they are for the people who live for fashion.”
Where the past meets the future
Paying homage to the boundary-breaking and inspiring legacy of Thierry Mugler, Cadwallader’s audacious designs of body-sculpting corsets, bold cut-out leggings and bodysuits, sheer ombre body-con dresses paired with salient oversized hoop earrings are meant to shock.
Specifically confronting the notion of asymmetry, the collection is christened by another new degrade – the ‘Hoochie’ dress. Prolonging the Mugler repertoire and directly confronting the viewer with unexpected designs and colours, the gloved asymmetric dress features cut-outs.
Tailoring is reimagined also, kissed with a hyperfeminine touch. Wool jackets with large cut-outs and double straps accentuate the model’s décolleté as they march habitually atop acuminate pointed pumps and structured stiletto sandals with elongated toes – the latest from the Mugler shoe collection.
The film’s final sombre segment showcases an archival sequin halter neck dress borrowed from Mugler Haute Couture Spring Summer 1998 ‘Jeu de Paume’ collection. Worn by two dancers – prima ballerina, Maria Kochetkova and Vogueing star Barbie Swaee whose dancing styles are gracefully juxtaposed. As Cadwallader affirms, the performance is an embodiment of “the magnetic duality of the Mugler legacy.”
“I know that [Mugler] loved that dress and it’s also a dress that I had referenced in the collection in working on the moulded Plexiglas harnesses,” Cadwallader said.
Mugler, who began his career as a dancer was devoted to experimenting with the line of fashion, theatre and performance. The intersections of Swaee’s performance cutting in and out of the shot allow the brand’s versatility to be further visualised.
Most importantly, Cadwallader’s new contribution to the trilogy of runway presentations is an exemplary manifestation of Mugler’s ability to channel something otherworldly in his designs.
Cadwallader has successfully preserved Mugler’s aim of transforming how you look, feel and act. He does so by using fashion as an outlet for communication. With Mugler’s work historically theatrical on the runway, Cadwallader borrows from this vision, inspiring us to ‘Muglerize’ ourselves on the street for a Mugler dress is only finished when it’s worn. Moreover, Mugler is made to breathe air to the fire within us. As Cadwallader says:
“I feel much more the responsibility that I have to carry this forward to make sure that his contribution to fashion into culture takes on more and more life as we move forward.”
It seems Cadwallader has meticulously crafted and nurtured an image of Mugler reflective of its high-voltage historical impact whilst establishing his own creative narrative.
“My only measure is excess”
The film embraces the very essence of Mugler’s being. The designer creates timeless pieces informed by humanism and humour. It celebrates individualities influencing countless generations.
Running for ten minutes, Mugler’s Spring Summer 22 film is sure to take you on a unique full-body experience, stimulating all senses. It calls each of us to freely define our own individuality to proudly become the person we’ve always wanted to be.
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