PARIS — Designing his first Mugler collection, David Koma said he resisted the tug of the French firm’s vast archive, preferring to follow his “instincts and how I see the modern Mugler woman.”
Sharp tailoring, loose trousers and body-conscious dresses — toughened with elastic straps and rows of metal buckles — are what the London-based designer of Georgian descent turned out for the resort season ahead of a return to the Paris runway this fall.
While it was Thierry Mugler’s otherworldly, sometimes outré styles from the Eighties that flabbergasted a 12-year-old Koma and propelled him into a fashion career, the designer insisted that the founder’s anatomical silhouettes, immaculate cutting and use of innovative materials remain powerful guideposts.
“Everyone knows cinched waists and big shoulders, but there’s so much more than that,” he said in an interview. “Anything that makes a woman look strong and beautiful, elegant and sexy — they’re all relevant.”
“The whole point is to create a new vision that will represent Mugler,” he explained. “It’s so important to concentrate on what’s fresh now and challenge yourself to create a new story.”
Koma referenced Lyrical Abstraction, a midcentury art movement, in the zigzag motifs he worked into dresses and tops via thermal bonding, printing or as insets. Sleek and graphic, the collection spans strong-shouldered coats, pantsuits, clinging T-shirt dresses and evening columns.
The designer said his aim is to build a wardrobe, and called resort a “first step for the new Mugler journey.”
Virginie Courtin-Clarins, director of development, marketing and communications at Mugler Fashion, agreed that the brand’s legacy must be cast into the future “with new codes and ways of interpretation.
“The way of expressing it is no longer the big shoulders or very tight hips like we used to see in the past. She has to be more urban, an active woman,” she explained, defining the Mugler customer as “strong, independent, glamorous.”
Koma succeeded Nicola Formichetti, who exited Mugler last year and joined Diesel as artistic director. After graduating from Central Saint Martins fashion school in 2009, Koma launched a signature fashion house and immediately demonstrated a fascination with architectural shapes and spectacular embellishments.
He is to continue to show that label in London alongside his work for Mugler.
The Mugler fashion house, controlled by beauty giant Groupe Clarins, is pursuing a wholesale strategy, aiming to be in the “best boutiques and department stores worldwide,” Courtin-Clarins said.
The towering blonde insisted she is not the muse for the house or for Koma, though it is plain she relates to its fashions strongly, having worn his first Mugler design to the Sidaction gala in Paris earlier this year.
She revealed that Koma made a Mugler dress for her civil wedding last week, ahead of the church ceremony, which took place on Saturday.
“I didn’t want to bother David’s work asking him to make my dress but he did it anyway as a surprise,” she said. “I was very touched; it was the best wedding present I could expect.”