Thursday, May 30, 2019


Metamorphosis gallery at Thierry Mugler: Couturissime @Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montreal / projection & special effects by Rodeo FX

He's clothed some of the glitziest celebrities and worked with the world's most notable photographers. Yet--until now--Thierry Mugler (a.k.a Manfred) has eluded the lure of public exhibition. In a first-of-its-kind showcase meticulously curated by Thierry-Maxime Loriot, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montreal invites visitors to participate in a 6-Act "tragédie glamouresque." Thierry Mugler: Couturissime is a celebration of 150 of Mugler's most iconic pieces, photographs and video spanning 40 years between 1974 and 2014. Keep reading for a look inside...

 Sketches for 70 costumes made for a version of Macbeth adapted by Comédie Française at the Festival d'Avignon (1985)

Notorious for refusing requests--from the MET in NY to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris to London's V&A--Mugler opens the door to an impressive world premiere at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, stocked from the designer's own 7,000 item archive. Starting off in a darkened room, visitors stumble onto a 4-D holographic presentation of Lady McBeth's demise, surrounded by 16 lavish costumes made for a Comédie Française adaptation of Macbeth (1985). In stark contrast, Act II presents a colorful palette of archival pieces and associated photographs, including the motorcycle bustier worn in George Michael's "Too Funky" video (1992). Evident in this brightly lit area is the 'femme fatale' aesthetic, inspired by the fierce femmes from comic books Mugler read as a child.

From the collection Hiver des Anges-10 ans (F/W 1984-85)

Taking a turn towards monochrome, the next two galleries feature predominantly black and white pieces + photos. Mugler pays homage to his partnership with photographer Helmut Newton and others, through (largely) B&W photography; two islands of featured fashions complement the pictures. A second gallery showcases styles categorized as "Belle de Jour & Belle de Nuit" with pieces from Mugler's 1999 Les Tranches and Fall/Winter 1995 Couture collections.
From S/S 1992 Les Cow-boys collection; hand-painted plexiglass bustier in collaboration w/ Jean-Jacques Urcun (photo: Edwin Sanchez)

Raising the bar for Acts V and VI, Mugler and Loriot succeed in maintaining momentum for a grand finale. Special effects by Rodeo FX sets the scene for the "Metamorphasis" gallery. Here, unique pieces only previously seen in magazine editorials are fully accessible. Of note--a shiny dress of rainbow scales and hair adorned sleeves from the 1997 La Chimère collection with accompanying photo of "Yasmin Le Bon at the Palladium in London" and a black moth dress with rainbow wings (from the same collection) worn by Audrey Marnay. Progressing into the "Couture Androids" gallery, signature mirror and neon design by German artist / set designer Philipp Fürhofer embodies a "futuristic" aesthetic to complement femme-bot fashions.

[M] Chandelier dress S/S 1992

Overall, the exhibit succeeds in sharing the Mugler story-- there is glitz, glam and glamazon, an uncanny "freedom" in fashion and partnerships with the latest and greatest people and photographers of time. There are plunging necklines and bustiers, femme bots and flames, theatrics and sobriety. Perhaps the only thing missing here is a continuation... but maybe Mugler knows where to draw the line, ending his legacy with a happily ever after...  

(The Mugler brand currently continues with creative director Casey Cadwallader at the helm)
More looks from Act 2 "Too Funky" 

Worn by Diana Ross for 'The Art of the Catwalk' - Mugler S/S 1991

[L] 1998 S/S collection exemplifies the sui generis "Mugler woman" / glamazon [R] 1995 A/W collection

Black and White gallery complemented with pictures from notable photographers

Installation view of "Act IV" (The Photographer's Eye: Newton et. AL)

Mugler often collaborated with photographer with Helmut Newton

Belle de Jour & Belle de Nuit 

Pieces from Les Tranchés collection S/S 1999 and Mugler F/W 1995 Couture

More pieces from the 1995 F/W Couture collection

Intricate designs that are so delicate and detailed when seen up close

Act V: "Metamorphasis" gallery [R]"Méduses" gown created with organza

Les Insects collection (S/S 1997) with visual imagery and special effects created by @RodeoFX

More from the 1997 S/S Insects collection

A showing of hair on those dresses (to the right)!

Wears from the wilderness

Act VI focuses on futuristic femmebot couture

Le Costume Maschinenmensch (femme-robot) from Mugler's 1995 collection -- this took 6 months to make!

Inside the "Couture Androids" room [photo: Edwin Sanchez]

Installation view

Installation view with "robotic" mannequins

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