PARIS — An intimate church ceremony was held in Paris on Friday to celebrate the life of legendary fashion designer Manfred Thierry Mugler, who died Jan. 23 at the age of 73.
Mourners were welcomed by Mugler’s brother Gerard Mugler and partner Krzysztof Leon Dziemaszkiewicz, who were joined by Mugler creative director Casey Cadwallader, Mugler global president Sandrine Groslier, L’Oréal worldwide division president Cyril Chapuy and former culture minister Jack Lang, along with friends Chantal Thomass and Ashley Scott.
“We were friends for such a long time. We met when I was just beginning in fashion and he was just beginning too. We had so many memories together, we traveled together, we went on vacation together. It was a period we were together — the ’80s — when all the designers were friends and Thierry was one of my best friends,” Thomass told WWD. “The ceremony was very nice, very touching and really well done. It was an emotional impression, just perfect.”
“It was an incredible sadness of course but also a common pride of being able to cross paths with him at some stages of our lives. I was really honored to share with everyone my tribute to Monsieur Mugler and I knew and felt that everyone could add so many more own stories to it,” said Groslier, who spoke during the ceremony. “In the air I could also feel the spirit of an immense Mugler family who just lost its beloved father and which was not ready yet to let him go.”
White hydrangeas lined the grand steps of the 500-year-old church next to a framed portrait of Mugler in his youth, and the church’s pipe organ played selections from “The Photographer” and “Echorus” by American composer Philip Glass. The ceremony was presided over by two female pastors, and readings from the books of Ezekiel and Mark were accompanied by music from Erik Satie and Handel. He was laid to rest in an unadorned pine casket.
The private services were billed as a “thanksgiving for life” at the historic Oratory of the Louvre Protestant church in central Paris, and theatrical moments were left for the weather.
“It’s a moment. I feel like I want to let it be his day,” Cadwallader said of the bittersweet sentiment.
Just as the church bells chimed at 11:03 a.m., rain began to fall, but the sky cleared up as guests left the ceremony with James Brown’s boisterous “Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine” blasting onto the serene Rue Saint-Honoré.
“This day will stay in my mind forever. A lot of emotions, a lot of tears spilled and shared with Monsieur Mugler’s brother Gerard and his partner Leon,” said Groslier, who added that the closing song summed up his spirit. “For Monsieur Mugler Life has always been a show. He left as he arrived, with a bang!”
Mugler was born in Strasbourg, France, and began as a ballet dancer before turning to a career as a designer, director, photographer and perfumer. He began his fashion career in London in the 1960s, and returned to Paris to launch his own label in 1974. His audacious and artistic designs defined the ’80s era of the supermodel, when he popularized fashion as theater by opening shows to the public.
He revolutionized the fragrance industry with the release of his iconic Angel perfume in 1992, and directed music videos including George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90” before retiring from fashion in 2002.
Diana Ross, Jerry Hall and Tippi Hedren were among the many celebrities he worked with in his heyday, and he was rediscovered by the current generation after designing Kim Kardashian West’s “wet dress” for the Met Gala in 2019. Celebrities including Cardi B, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé embraced his structural, experimental looks.
The designer was the subject of a career retrospective titled “Thierry Mugler: Couturissime” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which opened in September with one of the biggest parties of fashion week. In contrast, the small ceremony Friday brought together close friends and family by invitation only.