Brooklyn Museum's Thierry Mugler 'Couturissime' Exhibit Is Pure Fashion Magic

By Bianca Gracie | November 18, 2022

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Thierry_Mugler-Alan_Strutt.jpgAlan Strutt (born 1967, UK). Yasmin Le Bon, Palladium, London,1997. Evening Standard, October 1997. Haute couture Fall/Winter 1997–98 collection (“La Chimère”). © Alan Strutt

Captivating. Edgy. Seductive. Otherworldly. These are just a few of the words to describe Thierry Mugler, the late French fashion designer who flipped the industry on its head with his rule-breaking designs. The Thierry Mugler: Couturissime exhibit first launched in 2019 and has been enjoyed by over 1 million visitors in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and France. Now, the exhibit’s final stop will be at the Brooklyn Museum. On view through May 7, 2023, the retrospective will feature a range of items from 130 outfits (most on view for the first time), accessories, videos, photographs, sketches and a special gallery dedicated to fragrances.

“The constant innovations, inventions and avant-garde architectural silhouettes in the work of Mugler have marked an era,” says Thierry- Maxime Loriot, curator of the exhibition. “His singular style found a place in the history of fashion that still has a powerful influence on today’s generation of couturiers, not only because of its designs but also because of the strong message of inclusivity, diversity and empowerment in his body of work. To present the exhibition I created with him, in the city he lived in and loved so much, is the most beautiful tribute to celebrate the man and the artist’s legacy.”

FIG_387B_E03FINAL.jpgEllen von Unwerth (born 1954, Frankfurt, Germany). Eva Herzigová, Vogue Italy,1992. Prêt-à-porter Spring/Summer 1992 collection (“LesCow-boys”). ©Ellen von Unwerth

Mugler’s innovative designs during the ’80s and ’90s both celebrate and played on the female form, inventing the “glamazon” and “fembot” aesthetics and transforming the typical haute couture runway shows into performance art. The materials he used were also unique: Plexiglas, PVC, faux fur, vinyl, latex and chrome. The designer crafted a legacy that is still felt in pop culture today, with celebrities like Cardi B, Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian proudly wearing Mugler.

FIG_126_442-THIERRY_MUGLER_FINAL_NEW.jpgJean-Paul Goude (born France). Thierry Mugler, Vogue Paris, 1998. Courtesy and © Jean-Paul Goude

“Building on the Brooklyn Museum’s history of celebrating the trailblazing French couturiers Jean Paul Gaultier in 2013, Pierre Cardin in 2019 and Christian Dior in 2021, we’re thrilled for our audiences to experience Thierry Mugler: Couturissime,” says Matthew Yokobosky, senior curator of fashion and material culture, Brooklyn Museum. “Originally a ballet dancer, Thierry Mugler was a designer who intimately understood the mechanics of the body and had extensive knowledge of materials and production. He used this expertise to create empowering visions for all people, especially women, including his archetypal superheroine silhouettes.”

FIG_847_MUGLER_MUG_0549_024.jpgEmil Larsson (born Sweden). Prêt-à-porter Spring/Summer 1991 collection (“Superstar Diana Ross”). Metal bra, shorts, articulated armpieces, and helmet, made in collaboration with Jean-Pierre Delcros. ©Emil Larsson

FIG_654_12921_18.jpgHelmut Newton (Berlin, 1920–2004, West Hollywood). Jerry Hall and Thierry Mugler, Paris, 1996. Inkjet print, 215/8×231/4in.(55×59cm), framed. Courtesy and ©Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin


David LaChapelle (American, born 1963). Danie Alexander, London Sunday Times, May 1998. Jeu de Paume collection, haute couture Spring/Summer 1998. Sequined fishnet Angel catsuit embroidered with Swarovski crystals. © David LaChapelle