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Retrospective: Manfred Thierry Mugler’s Most Iconic Dresses

Born in Strasbourg, France, in 1948, Manfred Thierry Mugler went on to become one of the most influential designers in fashion history. His eccentric couture designs from the 80s and 90s have become works of art, with his body-conscious dresses and figure-hugging silhouettes, defining a new genre of style.

Back in the 90s, every red carpet featured at least one of the French designer’s looks which were adorned by supermodels and actors alike including Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, and Demi Moore. His creations enhanced, empowered, enchanted, and expanded the realm of possibilities a woman could become.

Confetti showers, spiral staircases, massive backdrops, background dancers, and famous singers would be a casual affair during a Mugler fashion show, which were famed for being extravagant and dramatic. His most epic was the Fall 1995 Haute Couture show. Marking the 20th anniversary of his brand, the designer went all out. VIP guests witnessed Mugler’s fully-formed vision unfold as 300 looks, an unprecedented amount of designs, were showcased on a diverse range of models, actors, and icons. One of the most theatrical pieces from the haute couture collection was The Venus Dress, which was recently worn by Cardi B for the 2019 Grammys.

In 2003, cosmetics firm Clarins announced the end of an era as Mugler stepped down from his eponymous label – Casey Cadwallader is the current creative director. However, the French designer made his return in 2009, when megastar Beyoncé’s asked him to be her creative designer. Mugler transformed the singer-cum-style-icon through his elaborate designs. He perceived the star’s essence as: “Feminine. Free. Warrior. Fierce.”

While he may not be personally sending designs down the runways anymore, he is still celebrated as a visionary couturier. The designer’s exaggerated and powerful, yet feminine, silhouettes are still worn by celebrities today. For Vogue Arabia’s September 2019 cover shoot, Manfred Thierry Mugler personally styled cover star Kim Kardashian West in many of his signature archival pieces, as well as three looks by Casey Cadwallader for Thierry Mugler.

“He staged the most spectacular fashion shows and breathed new life into haute couture, notably through the use of new materials such as metal, latex and faux fur,” says Thierry-Maxime Loriot an exhibition curator who has helped put together an exhibit currently showcasing Mugler’s best works as a designer, photographer, director, and perfumer at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Thierry Mugler: Couturissime will display more than 150 outfits made between 1977 and 2014. The show runs until September 8, 2019.

Click through the gallery to take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of Mugler’s stand-out pieces from his 40-year career.

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