Skipping the runway this season has at least one upside: designers have let their imagination run wild with digital presentations that would be impossible to pull off in real life.
How else would you ever see Bella Hadid, in the form of a gilded Pegasus, take flight from the roof of the Paris Opera? The model’s avatar is part of the genre-bending short film that Mugler unveiled as a teaser for artistic director Casey Cadwallader’s spring collection.
Part fashion film, part music video and part fantasy adventure, it marks the brand’s transition to a see-now-buy-now business model, with the 15 looks dropping simultaneously with retailers including Selfridges in London, GR8 in Tokyo and H. Lorenzo in Los Angeles, as well as Ssense and LuisaViaRoma online.
“I wanted it to feel like[…]a very action-packed trailer,” Cadwallader said. In addition to Hadid, who was 3-D-scanned in New York, the diverse cast features historic Mugler muse Debra Shaw, plus-size model Ariish Wol, and a cameo from British rapper Shygirl, who has lent a song from her upcoming album for the soundtrack.
All have the confidence to carry off Mugler’s body-conscious aesthetic: think dramatically cutout bodysuits, clingy jersey dresses with asymmetric necklines, and suits with graphic cutouts connected with invisible stretch tulle.
Cadwallader was inspired by founder Thierry Mugler’s spring 1999 haute couture collection, featuring sliced dresses and suits. It turns out those were held together with fishing line. This season’s next-gen illusion mesh comes in two shades of nude to accommodate darker skin tones.
The designer also offered a new take on his signature spiral-cut jeans, featuring denim bonded with jersey made of 100 percent recycled nylon. Accessories include slingback shoes covered in spiral-seamed stockings, adding an underground vibe to his stark, segmented tailoring.
The full collection will be sold to buyers in December and shown on the runway in February, with deliveries scheduled for March. Mugler is broadcasting the film on Instagram, YouTube, Bilibili and Weibo to drum up excitement.
Some scenes were filmed at the monumental Les Arènes de Picasso residential complex in the Paris suburb of Noisy-le-Grand, in a nod to vintage Mugler ad campaigns featuring towering architecture.
“I was trying to use a lot of tropes from the Mugler heritage, but really smash them together with today,” said Cadwallader. “That’s a really fun challenge to try to rise to, you know: What is iconic today?”