Manfred Thierry Mugler, the Pioneering French Designer, Has Died

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Photo credit: William STEVENS - Getty Images
Photo credit: William STEVENS - Getty Images

Manfred Thierry Mugler, the pioneering French fashion designer whose extravagant and avant-garde garments helped render a new era of haute couture, has died at 73 years old, his official Instagram account confirmed late on Sunday night.

"#RIP," the post read, captioning a black square. "We are devastated to announce the passing of Mr Manfred Thierry Mugler on Sunday January 23rd 2022. May his soul Rest In Peace."

Mugler launched his eponymous brand in 1973, crafting clothes for stars like Grace Jones, David Bowie, and Diana Ross. He was also one of the first high-profile designers to embrace diversity on his runway, where he featured transgender models as well as drag queens and porn stars.

“The outwardness of designers embracing being gay wasn’t then a thing,” said Paul Cavaco, who was a Harper's BAZAAR fashion director during Mugler's prime, per The New York Times. “People knew but you didn’t really talk about it. It was considered not chic. And here he was sending drag queens like Lypsinka down the runway.”

Photo credit: Pool ARNAL/GARCIA - Getty Images
Photo credit: Pool ARNAL/GARCIA - Getty Images
Photo credit: John van Hasselt - Corbis - Getty Images
Photo credit: John van Hasselt - Corbis - Getty Images

Power, sex, drama, and the hyperfeminine were common themes in his work. A Mugler creation could be distinguished for its architectural silhouette, generous use of patent leather, or the employment of provocative cut-outs. Some of his most iconic pieces of work saddled the border between high fashion and fantasy, with the designer incorporating elements inspired from sci-fi and Surrealism.

Photo credit: Daniel SIMON - Getty Images
Photo credit: Daniel SIMON - Getty Images
Photo credit: Victor VIRGILE - Getty Images
Photo credit: Victor VIRGILE - Getty Images
Photo credit: Pool ARNAL/PAT - Getty Images
Photo credit: Pool ARNAL/PAT - Getty Images

In 2002, he officially retired from his brand, though he later returned as a creative advisor in 2013. Of his retirement, he told Elle in 2017, "Fashion is beautiful, 3-D art on a human being. But it wasn’t enough, which is why I went on to create in other ways. For me, it wasn’t the right tool anymore."

In recent years, Mugler's work has had a resurgence, with many of his vintage designs seeing new life on the likes of Lady Gaga and Cardi B. He also designed costumes for Beyoncé's I Am... World Tour, which ran from 2008-2009. On few occasions, he even left retirement, as he did when he created Kim Kardashian's iconic custom "wet" look for the 2019 Met Gala.

"I’m very drawn to architecture and the structure of the human face, so I search for beauty of all types, regardless of geographical origin," Mugler told WWD last year. "I like to find a true example, or an extreme, for every type of beauty."

Photo credit: Dimitrios Kambouris - Getty Images
Photo credit: Dimitrios Kambouris - Getty Images

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