Heroes: Mugler

Revisiting the legacy of Couture’s ultimate shooting star

Critically-acclaimed curator, writer, and longtime collaborator of Thierry Mugler—and the man behind the exhibition of the season—Thierry-Maxime Loriot immortalizes the artistry and legacy of  the renowned designer in a personal account for V Magazine’s Winter 2022 issue. Read the full piece below.

In one of our last conversations, I asked Manfred T. Mugler—aka Thierry Mugler, the icon—if extreme was the word that described him best. His answer to me was: “I have been, among other things, a vegetarian, a dancer, a hippie, a yogi, a couturier, a perfume maker, a producer, a photographer, a writer, a stage director, and a bodybuilder. I have undergone a complete physical transformation, so let’s say yes, I do love extremes. And I am of an extreme discipline, certainly!” Of extreme sensibility and extreme sense of humor, he forgot to mention.

Thierry Mugler by Jean-Paul Goude, image courtesy of The Brooklyn Museum



When Sandrine Groslier, former President of Mugler fashion and fragrances, called me in 2016 to ask to create an exhibition on Mugler, I could not believe my luck. What to expect from the man, the legend behind so many pop culture moments, and the one who taught anglophones how to pronounce our mutual first name, Thierry: tea-a-ree and not “cherry.” First, thanks to him. In retrospect, we should be thankful to Mugler for so many reasons you can discover at Thierry Mugler: Couturissime presented at The Brooklyn Museum, the last stop of the exhibition’s tour that gathered, so far, more than one million visitors from Montreal to Paris.

The variations and reinventions of Mugler were all based on the same man: kind, hardworking, generous, funny, but often misunderstood. His vision was always based on humans. “There is nothing political about my inspirations, they are instinctive. What inspires me most, and always has, are its infinite possibilities. The search for beauty, how we can transform, fascinates me. I was never an intellectual who wanted to drive across points or to break codes, even though that is what happened in the end,” he told me. His humanist approach always guided him, just like his (animal) instinct. He recalled that he made pieces that were cheeky, but never vulgar, which I agree: “I wanted to reveal the animal energy within. If I create a suit or a robot, the bestial side must emerge, the animal instinct is stronger than anything else,” he explained.

Thierry Mugler by Max Abadian, image courtesy of Thierry-Maxime Loriot

One thing that fascinated me about him, was that he never really was interested in fashion, but rather in staging the daily life of people, helping them become different characters with his clothes, from vamps to insects and robots. He used it to bring magic to the world by creating refined, fleshed-out objects, just like his iconic star-shaped perfume Angel, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. A lonely child, he often slept outdoors, and felt a strong connection to a bright blue star he always saw in the sky, looking up in the starry nights of Strasbourg. A star he felt that looked after him, his lucky star.

Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.

Like a shooting star in our lives, he left this world last January 2022. At the funeral at the Temple protestant de l’Oratoire du Louvre, the two (female) pastors, read a beautiful eulogy to pay him a touching tribute he would have loved, which ended like this: “Today, the creator is not with us anymore, and yet the teeming garden of his imagination will never cease to inspire those, who like him, risk giving free rein to their imagination to reveal the reality of our lives. The artwork, itself, never dies.”

Then a familiar voice bursts out from the speakers: “Fellas, I’m ready to get up and do my thing (yeah, go ahead)” “Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine” by James Brown blasted in the church, making us all burst out laughing and crying at the same time, triggering emotions like he always did with his work until his last goodbye. Leaving us all thinking, we will miss the man and his sense of humor.

Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.


Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.

Thierry Mugler: Couturissime is on view at the Brooklyn Museum November 18, 2022 through May 7, 2023.

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