NEW YORK — “I don’t really pay attention to fashion anymore,” said Thierry Mugler, in town to celebrate the launch of his new fragrance, Alien, which is being lauded as a follow-up to his 1992 blockbuster scent, Angel.
And the notoriously blunt designer may not have much of a choice: The nipped waists, structured suits and broad-shouldered silhouettes that he built his name on in the Eighties and early Nineties are now literally things of the past, as the Mugler fashion house shuttered in the summer of 2003. Now Alien — inspired by “a woman who has a magical, unexplainable power,” according to Mugler — is one of many focuses for the renaissance designer, who has become accustomed to working in a number of mediums, from photography to directing to designing costumes for Cirque du Soleil.
“I didn’t design costumes, I conceived characters,” he said when asked what it was like to design for the stage. “Costumes don’t work by themselves, because you need the right person, the right staging, lights, body and special effects.”
Indeed, his vision is a particular one — he was once said to have alienated the likes of Helmut Newton, who stopped shooting Mugler’s fashion campaigns — but it’s a vision that resulted in fragrance gold, at least 13 years ago. The question now is, have Mugler’s fans, who once salivated over his glamorous, vixen-inspired designs, stuck around to snatch up another signature scent from the designer? And has he retained enough name recognition for a generation seduced by one-off celebrity scents? Mugler does not seem worried, but he admits he’s no psychic. “When we did Angel, we were completely innocent, and then it became number one in the world,” he said. “Creating Alien was a huge challenge because now the whole world is watching.”
And, regardless of whether he’s creating the perfect cinched waist or the next fragrance classic, one thing remains clear: Mugler will never be bored. “I’m working on an amazing book about the characters from the Cirque du Soleil — I’m photographing creatures in the desert of Nevada,” he said, adding that a book of photographs of New York is also in the works. “It’s a different point of view of seeing the city. I’m going to show the classic, Gothic, romantic side. It’s very special.”