There once was a ballet dancer turned fashion designer who defined the silhouette of the 1980s, a decade where glamour and excess were within easy reach. That man was Thierry Mugler. Although the designer has retired from the fashion world now, his Maison remains and he is still remembered as having orchestrated so many of the most extravagant moments in fashion history – one of the most renown being his playful signature catwalk theatrics in George Michael's 1992 single 'Too Funky'.
It was indeed through George Michael's' Too Funky' that Mugler's current creative director, Casey Cadwallader, came to discover the iconic French brand.
"I love the drama, the boldness, the inclusivity and the craft in the making of the clothes," says Cadwallader. "And as a lover of individualism, nothing spoke to me more than what Mr Mugler did to present fearless individuals and their right to express themselves."
Undoubtedly, Mugler's wasp-waisted, broad-shouldered designs ruled the fashion world — a tribute to the empowerment of women through clothing and the freedom and possibility to be whoever they wanted to be, at any given moment. After all, Mugler is empowerment, thrill, drama - a catalyst to making you feel your very best and for taking on the world.
"Mugler's clothes did something to you," states Cadwallader. "Mugler is and has always been about inclusion, no matter your gender, your shape, colour, age or sexual preferences; Mugler is designed thinking of you."
And, although times have changed and trends have gone by, the house's spirit and its strong aesthetic are still burning strong.
However, how has its current creative director been keeping its fiery spirit alive?
A designer with a background rooted in architecture training, Cadwallader joined the Maison in 2018 intrigued by the brand's mastery of tailoring, structure and curve. From sculpting the shape of a shoe to the cut of a jacket and its internal structure - the designer applied his former background to its new designs, an exploration all about form materiality and detail.
"By the time I had started the job, I had been working on Mugler for almost a year, forming a map of what I wanted to make, what I wanted the work to mean, how I wanted to communicate. I still refer back to this outline today," explains Cadwallader. "I wanted to respect the house, and I also wanted to have my own voice. It was daunting, but I would not give up either priority. In my gut, I knew there was a synergy between the house and so many parts of myself. I had to trust my gut and jump."
And, since Cadwallader joined the Maison, things have evolved both for the designer and the brand. He has built a family of people who love the brand, growing a new Mugler culture which applies to today's world. Cadwallader has grown to be bolder and is ready to undergo new challenges.
One of these is, undeniably, the current health crisis the world is facing. A challenge nor Cadwallader or any other designer planned would meet any time soon. And, as the times are swiftly changing, old standing Maisons like Mugler have to adapt – and Cadwallader is well aware of it.
"[Fashion] will change more than we can even imagine today. At Mugler, we have been focusing in, now doing 2 collections per year instead of 4. We are trying to make a more lasting imprint with our products, not moving faster than the audience can appreciate. That means less waste, that means more attention can be put into less pieces. That means more thinking and less rushing to keep up with a system that is not sustainable," he explains.
While COVID may have affected every brand in a uniquely different way, at Mugler, like at other brands, things are shifting continuously, as shows are cancelled and new plans for Spring 2021 change weekly.
"But I feel an opportunity, not a loss. At Mugler, we do things our way. Now we have more time to think and plot this new direction," he concludes.