French designer Manfred Thierry Mugler, known for the powerful-shouldered, cinched-waist silhouettes that ruled fashion in the 1980s, died Sunday at the age of 73 of “natural causes”, according to his agent.
A former ballet dancer, Mugler’s daring collections – presented in highly stylized themed shows – were at the forefront of the structured, decadent style known as “power dressing”.
“He was timeless and ahead of his time,” model Jerry Hall – the face of his best-selling Angel fragrance – said of the designer in 2019. “He knew all about gender fluidity and his clothes reflected the heat and sexuality of the late 70s and early 80s,” she told the New York Times.
Although Mugler retired from the brand that bore his name in 2002, he hasn’t given up on making clothes. He was responsible for Beyoncé’s sci-fi-inspired Sasha Fierce looks in the late 2000s. He also designed costumes for Lady Gaga and Cardi B. In 2019, he created Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala look, a latex dress dripping with crystals.
“We are devastated to announce the passing of Mr. Manfred Thierry Mugler on Sunday, January 23, 2022,” said a post on the creator’s official Facebook account.
Born in Strasbourg in December 1948, he arrived in Paris at the age of 20 and created his own brand “Café de Paris” in 1973, a year before founding Thierry Mugler.
The LGBTQ community was a frequent source of talent and inspiration for the designer. Mugler launched trans models in its runways as early as the 1980s and frequently collaborated with drag performers and club kids on and off the runway, including corset-maker Mr Pearl.
In the late 1990s, Mugler’s name was associated more with perfume than fashion, thanks to his hit perfume Angel. The rights to its name were acquired by cosmetics giant Clarins in 1997, and this fragrance and its variations remain bestsellers.
In 2002 Mugler’s fashion division closed but the brand was relaunched in 2010 under the creative direction of stylist Nicola Formichetti and then Casey Cadwallader.
Mugler’s use of corsetry and his over-the-top approach to the female body drew criticism, but the designer was no less extreme with his own physique. In 2019, the normally reclusive creator posed for a nude photo shoot with Interview Magazine and discussed her exhaustive bodybuilding routine and cosmetic surgeries. “I think it’s important for people to be a complete realization of themselves. I’ve always been fascinated by the human body and wanted to pay tribute to what it can do,” he said.
In 2019, the designer was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition, Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, which debuted in Montreal before filming in Paris in 2021.
The designer was to announce new collaborations earlier this week, his agent Jean-Baptiste Rougeot told Agence France-Presse.