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The most outrageous, spell-binding beauty looks from Thierry Mugler


TextBenedetta Melini

To celebrate the opening of his new exhibition we dip into the archives of Thierry Mugler’s most astonishing beauty looks

Known for his spectacular runway shows and fetishistic style, Thierry Mugler helped to define fashion for over two decades. Starting off his career designing for legendary avant-garde Parisian boutique Gudule in the late 60s, Mugler soon moved on to creating collections under his own eponymous label for which he’d stage fashion spectacles featuring outlandish and wildly ostentatious ensembles. From otherworldly creatures with feathered headpieces to space-age pastel-hued bubble wigs and hair fashioned into devils horns, season after season the beauty looks were a treat for the eyes as models were transformed into the wildest of fantasies. “My reason for working is to make people dream,” the enfant terrible of fashion told the New York Times in 1990.

Although he left the label in 2001, Mugler’s legacy has endured and his influence continues to resonate through the industry and pop culture (see Cardi B at the Grammy’s this year or Kim K’s recent cut-out vintage dress). And now the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts is celebrating the work of Mugler with a new exhibition – the first solo exhibition of the French designer’s work – showing over 130 of Mugler’s most iconic designs from 1973 to 2001. To mark the opening of Thierry Mugler: Couturissime we revisit his most iconic beauty moments.

Icy looks at AW84

To celebrate the brand’s tenth anniversary, Thierry Mugler’s AW84 collection was staged to an audience of 6,000 at the Zénith in Paris. The grandiose spectacle saw models wearing long white wigs that skimmed their thighs and ice princess headpieces, offset by dark lips and even darker eyes. For the finale, model Pat Cleveland, as the Madonna, was suspended above glass spires before floating down to the ground.

Gold-tinged nipples at SS86

Set against an exotic desert landscape, for the Sahara collection, Mugler adorned the eyes, lips, arms, ears, fingers and breasts of the models with flashes of gold. Iman took to the stage with a monkey around her neck while models enchanted the audience striking a pose on the runway.

Hair on fire at AW88

With his infamous “She-Devils” collection, Mugler drew on the 80’s Power Dressing aesthetic. The collection was witchy and wicked but the hair did the most - styled as horns - or flames - mirroring the irregular hems of the garments. She’s evil for real.

Barbie headpieces at SS91

Brightly coloured plastic swim caps shaped into doll-like hair adorned the heads of models at the SS91 show, who walked holding pageant numbers and wearing matching white one-pieces.

Total pastel looks at AW91

For AW91 supermodels Christy Turlington, Helena Christensen and Beverly Peele served cotton candy extravaganza with long pastel wigs that perfectly matched their fluffy ombré flower dresses and bonnets.

Too Funky video, George Michael 1992

For the video for 1992 single, “Too Funky,” George Michael turned to Mugler for direction. Featuring a cast of models that included Linda Evangelista,  Eva Herzigova and Tyra Banks, the video is jam-packed with wild and wonderful beauty looks including the flame-coloured hair accompanying a motorcycle bodice on Nadja Auermann and Linda’s cartoonish and gravity-defining bouffant.

Sexed up cyborg at AW95

For his AW95 collection, Mugler sent looks down the runway that questioned the connection between man and machine. Taking inspiration from the 1927 silent film Metropolis and Hajime Sorayama’s erotic illustrations, Mugler’s model-turned-cyborg walked encased in metal and clear plastic robot armour. The show was also the debut of Cardi B’s ‘Birth of Venus’ look.

Bugs brows at SS97

For the insect-themed SS97 show, models were transformed into voluptuous winged and hard-shelled creatures from the animal world. The make-up included super long lashes and wispy brows styled as feelers. Mugler explained in a statement: “Insects have an armour-like body with a highly futuristic design. They are in tune with the times and this time is my realm of research.”

The Chimera at AW97

For the grand finale of his AW97 couture show, Mugler transformed supermodel Adriana Karembeu into a mythical creature. Featuring elements that called to mind both animal and alien including feathered headdresses, monstrous yellow contact lenses, blue and green shadow and dramatic dark berry lips, the “Chimera Look” was a celebration of the body in mutation. It’s like Kafka’s Metamorphosis but more glamorous.

Tribal face tattoos at SS99

The looks from the SS99 couture collection referenced the Belle Epoque and sexual repression characteristic of the 19th century. Faces were veiled both exposing and constraining the models, while 90s tribal tattoos peeked out from underneath. Shimmering red lips and pin curled or extravagantly long sleeked back hair completed the look.

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