By: Beatrice Dupuy
Draped in an archival cocoon cape and dragonfly printed bodysuit, Kylie Jenner paid homage to the late French designer Manfred Thierry Mugler and his revolutionary artistry, now on display at the Brooklyn Museum.
The traveling exhibit “Thierry Mugler: Couturissime” marked its fifth stop with a Tuesday night opening celebration in New York, where Mugler lived for 15 years. The famed French designer, notable for his structured corsets and jackets with dramatic shoulders, died in January at the age of 73.
In an ushering of the new guard, Mugler’s newest creative director Casey Cadwallader guided the youngest adult member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan as the pair gazed upon the complexities of Mugler’s futuristic superwoman designs. For Cadwallader, seeing the culmination of Mugler’s designs felt daunting.
“It makes me realize what I have to do,” he said. “I have big boots to fill.”
The museum crowd gathered around Jenner and Cadwallader as the two appreciated Mugler’s 1999 sheer gown that Jenner had only worn a week before at the Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Awards.
The Metamorphosis room was filled with Mugler pieces mimicking the natural world of bugs and undersea creatures. A pale green cape was curiously missing from the designs collected in the room — until Jenner, clad in the creation, took her place onstage alongside the other insect-inspired couture. She would later undergo a metamorphosis of her own, donning a corseted gown and bejeweled headpiece for photographers on the carpet.
Guests moved from each room of the exhibit in awe of the way the exhibit married the museum’s interactive and immersive installations with Mugler’s boundary pushing ready-to-wear and couture collections. Guests posed for photos and admired mannequins dressed in Mugler classics from his “derrière décolleté” dress and eyebrow-raising “piercing dress” to his nod to dominatrix style.
In the Mugler Lab room, guests could take in the scents of Mugler’s perfume collection, founded in 1992, before being greeted by Mugler’s intricately made “La Chimère” sheath gown in the next room. The gown — lined with scales and feathers is and straight out of a sci-fi fantasy world — is one of the exhibit’s showstoppers, with embroidery that reportedly took more than a thousand hours.
The fashion house has always embraced the power of celebrity: Mugler’s innovative creations have been worn by the likes of superstars David Bowie, Grace Jones and Madonna, and at the height of the ’90s supermodel moment, Mugler dubbed his models “glamazons” who embodied their prowess as they strutted down his theatrical runways.
Tuesday’s event was a continuation of that ethos. The brand’s evolution can be illustrated by tracing the starpower of the celebrities who wore Mugler’s designs in the ’80s and ’90s to the influencer elite in attendance at the Brooklyn Museum. The night was a spectacle of social media stars posing for pictures while sporting the brand’s statement spiral leggings.
Actor and it girl of the moment Julia Fox arrived at the event wearing a bolero suit jacket with the classic Mugler shoulders and a hip-hugging skirt.
“Mugler has been such an inspiration to me since forever,” she said. “It is a huge honor to be here and to be wearing his clothes.”
The exhibit opens to the public Friday and runs through May 7, 2023.