“There’s a butt cam!” Casey Cadwallader declared gleefully as Mugler returned to the Paris runway with hulking, multi-angle camera rigs that rolled alongside each model, that hip-level lens capturing leather jeans that peeled open to reveal the top of the buttocks — and others with the right pant leg sawed off at an angle, revealing one entire cheek.
Cadwallader’s experimental fashion spectacle — akin to filming a music video live — featured models vamping it up to the extreme: flipping and swinging their top-knotted hair, gyrating on a stripper pole, meowing on a mic, and dancing on stage.
The show had attitude, kink and adrenaline to spare — plus a handbag launch rolled in, a troupe of dancers encased in lace catsuits swinging around the aerodynamic Spiral Curve bags, which resemble spaceships more than typical designer shoulder jewels.
Scheduled at the tail end of couture week on the fringes of Paris, it started about an hour late — the scourge of tardy celebrities has come roaring back to IRL fashion weeks — and lasted almost 30 minutes. Yeesh!
But it was worth it just to see ’90s supes Amber Valletta and Shalom Harlow positively slay with their inimitable struts, otherworldly confidence and timeless beauty.
Cadwallader said Thursday night’s happening, which will be edited into a fashion film for Mugler’s social channels, took some of its cues from founder Thierry Mugler’s legendary 1995 anniversary show at the Cirque d’Hiver, which featured multiple stages, celebrity cameos and nuclear-strength fashion fierceness.
Cadwallader said he tried to be “more street and more dressy” for Mugler’s fall 2022/23 collection, which is considered see now, buy now. Indeed, there were hulking, sculptural parkas, biker leathers and sagging denim board shorts covering the streetwear angle, and what Cadwallader called “deconstructed eveningwear,” in which fragments of grand ballgowns burst from one hip of a slashed minidress or HotPants.
Having learned that anything clinging with sheer or contract panels on the thighs or derriere disappears quickly on Mugler’s e-store, Cadwallader unveiled designs exalting the pelvic zone, and ones employing peekaboo lace, despite his initial aversion to it.
A gleaming, jutting metal breastplate brought to mind the founder’s famed 1992 motorcycle corset, but Cadwallader made a distinction between the founder’s era and these times.
“I think Manfred [Thierry] really took people and turned them into characters, whereas I make them the supersonic version of themselves,” he said, explaining that women today “dress up to make themselves feel hot, instead of to turn a man’s head.”
“They really show their curves more. And you know, this bareness is about self-pride. It’s about loving yourself with what you got,” he mused. “And if I can make something that makes someone feel charged when they put it on, to change their brain space, and to make them feel more strong about themselves, that’s my job.”
It certainly worked a charm on Amber and Shalom.