PARIS — Score another win for behind-the-scenes talent: Mugler has named little-known American designer Casey Cadwallader as its new artistic director of women’s ready-to-wear, succeeding David Koma, who is leaving the house after four years at the helm.
Cadwallader, whose appointment was effective Dec. 1, joins the French fashion house from Acne Studios, where he was head designer of women’s pre-collections.
The 38-year-old studied architecture at Cornell University and has 17 years of experience, including positions as design director of rtw and accessories at Narciso Rodriguez and director of design at J.Mendel. He has also held positions at Loewe and Tse.
“The Clarins Group is very happy to welcome Casey Cadwallader to Mugler,” said Sandrine Groslier, chief executive officer of Clarins Fragrance Group and Mugler fragrances and fashion.
“His determination and unique sensitivity to Mugler’s artistic and experimental heritage will enable us to pursue the renewal of the house in the long term. We are confident that his personal vision and talent will position Mugler among the most sought-after avant-garde fashion brands of today,” she added.
European luxury brands are increasingly tapping second-in-command designers to fill the top job.
In the last year, Natacha Ramsay-Levi, Nicolas Ghesquière’s longtime right hand at Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga, joined Chloé, while Jil Sander welcomed Lucie and Luke Meier to succeed Rodolfo Paglialunga.
Serge Ruffieux, who alongside Lucie Meier worked under Raf Simons at Dior, has taken the reins at Carven.
The Mugler appointment marks a fresh change of tack for the brand, famed for founder Thierry “Manfred” Mugler’s sharp tailoring and hourglass silhouettes, in addition to best-selling fragrances such as Angel and Alien.
Koma, a buzzy, London-based designer of Georgian descent known for sexy, sculptural creations, was appointed in 2013 with the remit of relaunching the brand’s rtw.
He succeeded Nicola Formichetti, who during his two-year stint at Mugler leveraged his close rapport with Lady Gaga to generate buzz at the brand.
Virginie Courtin-Clarins, managing director of Mugler Fashion, credited Koma with successfully expressing a new vision of the house through his body-conscious silhouettes, which have won him fans including Beyoncé, Rihanna and Hailey Baldwin.
“I am truly grateful for having had the pleasure of working with David and I thank him for this powerful vision of the modern Mugler woman, which has drawn a new expression of the brand,” she said.
Koma will now focus on developing his namesake brand in London, Clarins said.