Fashion, and entertainment, are having a Mugler moment.
Hot on the heels of Cardi B wearing vintage Thierry Mugler designs — including his shell-like Venus gown from 1995 — at the Grammys and days before the opening of a retrospective at Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts, Casey Cadwallader showed his second collection for the brand in the basement of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris.
Having established his template for the French fashion house — a mix of sculptural tailoring and a sportier fluidity — he felt ready to introduce more of his personal taste into the mix.
The Acne Studios alum is passionate about material development and texture, which he introduced via patterned jacquards and swirling prints inspired by trompe-l’oeil marble, terrazzo flooring and ancient Roman glassware.
“I wanted to add a bit of an organic feel to what is the futurism that people expect from Mugler. Instead of it being black and silver and cold, I wanted something quite warm and earthy and feminine, at the same time a bit wild, so it is a little bit unleashing something more personal in me,” he explained backstage.
He opened with a black pantsuit featuring the hourglass jacket he has reintroduced as a house staple, only this time refined into a more day-appropriate version, with soft peplum panels spilling over the hips. A more dramatic tuxedo style was paired with a skirt made from a patchwork of fringed scarves.
Dense ruching shaped short dresses with asymmetric hems, and what Cadwallader dubbed “trap” dresses, consisting of curving panels of stretch fabric in the front and back, with contrasting fabric gathered at the sides exploding into a flounce at the hem.
His prints appeared on everything from second-skin mesh tops, to a coat and cargo pants made from a patchwork of three custom tapestries. Their richness was slightly lost in the blur of the catwalk, which was accentuated by blinking lights that capriciously plunged some guests in pitch darkness every time a model approached.
Cadwallader seems aware that the recent focus on the house’s founder risks overshadowing his efforts to revive the brand, but this season found him navigating the line between deference and innovation with the skill of a seasoned diplomat.
“It was really nice to have a worldwide Mugler moment, because there’s something happening about respecting the heritage and the strength of the past, and then also this bursts into the future at the same time. It’s like fireworks going off for New Year’s Eve in different parts of the world,” he said. “I’m inspired by Mr. Mugler’s following through of his fantasy, so I’m trying to also find mine.”