Art, Culture, Fashion, Style

Thierry Mugler: Couturissime at Kunsthal

[by Marjolein] A spectacular and extravagant retrospective: French couturier, perfumer, photographer, filmmaker and director Thierry Mugler has landed with a big bang at Rotterdam’s Kunsthal. This show is a premiere for Europe and another impressive project by curator Thierry Maxime Loriot, who is both a Chapter Fifty and Kunsthal favorite. Like the previous successful fashion-related exhibits featuring Jean Paul Gaultier, Viktor&Rolf and the late great Peter Lindbergh.

Oh la la, Monsieur Mugler

As a child, Thierry Mugler trained to become a ballet dancer. However he combines dancing with studies at the Strasbourg School of Decorative Arts. At 24 he moved to Paris where he began working as a freelance fashion designer. Since the 1980s, Thierry is an internationally acclaimed fashion virtuoso. Think shiny robots, fetish-scene stuff, big shoulders, tiny waists and lots and lots of rhinestones. Nothing for the faint of heart.

To me, he will always be the genius director – and costume designer – for the 1992 George Michael video clip Too Funky, taking himself and the models in this video to stratospheric fame. In 2003 versatile Mugler disappeared from the limelight, but not to rest on his laurels. He regularly designs costumes for concerts, operas and the theatre (including for the Comédie Française for Macbeth). And, as he told me – and the rest of the press hordes who came out to meet him – he lived in Amsterdam for a while on a “woonboot” (aka house boat).

A six act opera

Time to follow Thierry Mugler into his exhibition. When the the black sliding doors of the Kunsthal Rotterdam exhibition space open, my eyes have to adjust to the darkness. And isn’t that on of his delicous perfumes that I smell?
Trying to avoid further spoilers here, but do not forget to look up and admire the Tord Boontje designed Swarovski crystal chandeliers in one of the rooms. The exhibition stages a six-act opera. Themes being Macbeth & The Scottish Lady, Stars & Sparkles, Belle du Jour & Belle du Nuit, the Photographer’s Eye, Metamorphosis and finally Futuristic & Fembot Couture. As Thierry says:

I have always been fascinated by the most beautiful animal on Earth: the human being. I have used all of the tools at my disposal to sublimate this creature: fashion, shows, perfumes, photography, video”.

Well, it certainly shows with about 150 couture pieces on display! The majority has never been exhibited before. Created between 1977 and 2004, they form a perfect time-warp, back into the Too Funky Era. As a bonus, there’s the ‘Photographer’s Eye’ room with photographs by – and of – Thierry himself, Avedon, Herb Ritts, Peter Lindbergh and other photography Gods.

The Super Models

At the end of this overwhelming visual spectacle, I re-enter into a daylight corridor with tv screens. On these screens, on repeat, the Mugler fashion shows featuring the couture I’ve just seen up close. This is the real icing on the cake, seeing all these gorgeous models.  Linda Evangelista, Naomi, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford, Nadja Auermann, Christy Turlington and celebrities galore strutting their stuff on the runway. With Jerry Hall in the role of muse of all muses.

After all this, there is only one thing left to do. Buy the special catalogue in the Thierry Mugler: Couturissime shop. I’m feeling re-energized, Muglerized.

The exhibit runs till 8 March 2020

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