Casey Cadwallader stuck with the film format for his see now, buy now fall collection for Mugler, and its fiercely dressed, vamping models gazing directly into the camera — or pointing their nearly naked derrières toward the lens — offered a shot of adrenalin.
The designer — with a little help from celebrity devotees including Dua Lipa and Yseult — has helped popularize nearly nude dressing with his illusion tulle bodysuits and dresses, here with the opaque bits fractured even further into mere swags of delicate chains banging against bare flesh.
A more inclusive casting this season also meant glimpses of armpit hair, tattooed limbs and fuller busts than typically seen on the runway.
“Bodies are bodies and we all have different ones. There’s nothing to be ashamed of,” said Cadwallader, a designer who is as pensive and exacting as he is daring.
While conscious of the backlash women, including Megan Fox and Lizzo, have endured for wearing revealing outfits recently, he’s of the go-for-it mind-set. “For me, if a woman wants to wear something and she feels good wearing it, she should wear it,” he said matter-of-factly. “The point is that there isn’t one version of publicly accepted dress anymore.”
The proof is in the sales results, with Cadwallader saying anything with Lycra, including his illusion tulle designs, are hard to keep in stock on the Mugler e-store. Ditto for his jeans with inserts of Lycra swirling around the limbs and over the buttocks for a thong effect.
Even after a fashion month full of body-revealing clothes, Mugler’s had sizzle to spare: skirts as skimpy as a napkin knotted on one hip; bodysuits with Art Nouveau shapes swooping around the ribs and abs, and jersey dresses tautly draped diagonally to cover perhaps one third of the body — as if paint was splashed over the torso from one side.
As a foil to all that body-con heat, Cadwallader added militaristic, tough-as-nails leather coats with shoulders out to there and an extra swag of leather that can be tucked into an epaulette or wound around the throat. Amber Valletta has never looked more intimidating.
The seven-minute collection film is fast-paced and engaging enough to warrant repeat viewings. Lycra-covered figures interspersed between the models recalled Daft Punk’s “Around the World” video of yore, though his were dressed in white to match the seamless studio and catch models falling straight backward as if into a mosh pit.
In Cadwallader’s view, the film format necessitated during pandemic lockdowns, with cameras swooping around the looks, offers more engagement for a wider audience, and he’s hooked. “Something in me creatively changed. And there’s a big hesitation for me to go back to a simple runway show,” he said.
He didn’t miss out on a runway bow with the digital format. At the end, one of the Lycra-encased figures pivoted up on the screen and pulled down his face covering. Lo and behold, it was Cadwallader underneath, and he winked, and then fell backward.