Designs by Thierry Mugler featured in the Brooklyn Museum exhibit Credit: Contributed

The Brooklyn Museum’s newest exhibit features French designer Thierry Mugler’s work in Thierry Mugler: Couturissime. Mugler’s looks are exotic, modern, sexy and sophisticated. From haute couture designs to stage costumes and photography, film and unpublished archives, Thierry Mugler: Couturissime is sensational and outstanding in production and display. You can view this amazing exhibit from now until May 7, 2023.

The exhibit offers several different themes that range from the rodeo, dramatic fashions, stage costumes that often translated into eveningwear and defined style characterizations. Some of his looks were reflections of costumes seen in some of today’s movies, such as “Black Panther.” You’ll immediately recognize the Mugler styles that the movie’s producers may have researched for the film’s costumes. Mugler was always ahead of his time and theatrical with his fashion collections, especially for his runway shows in Paris.  

The exhibit consists of sleek, high-fashioned styles that are shaped to a T (wide shoulders and tapered on the bottom). In the 1970s, Thierry Mugler defined trends by creating his acclaimed  “Glamazon” (a combination of glamor and amazon), a chic, modern woman whose style evolved from and beyond the flower-power, hippie fashions of the 1960s. Throughout the exhibit, the most breathtaking designs are the angels adorned in absolutely gorgeous gowns. Colors are vibrant! His attention to details, including draping, tapered skirts, bold shoulders, thigh-high splits on skirts and dresses, feathers, two-toned colors, headpieces and bold jewelry, is amazing. Most shocking are the cutouts, like the heart-shaped cutout showing the mannequins’ derrières in the garment.  

Mugler started his working career as a professional ballet dancer. His interest in costume design was apparent at a young age. Construction and enhancement of a garment was just his way of staging clothes for everyday life. While designing his fashion collections, creating themes, casting, lighting and sound came naturally to him. His eclectic mixes ranged from African chants to Egyptian songs, pop music, minimalist pieces by American composer Terry Riley and the German group Kraftwerk, to classical pieces by Beethoven, Verdi and Wagner. He also enjoyed the sounds of water, metal and laughter.   

At one of Thierry Mugler’s Paris fashion shows (shown on video at the exhibit), he featured American singer/composer James Brown in a full performance, singing his hits and dancing around Mugler’s models as they strutted up and down the runway in the designer’s collection. It was quite a show! The clothes were extraordinary. However, sharing the runway with Mugler’s models didn’t stop James Brown from doing his thing. Famous Black models such as Naomi Campbell were usually a part of Mugler’s shows.

In his downtime, Mugler would often take naps on park benches. As he looked up to the sky, the biggest and the brightest stars would always catch his eyes. “I felt that it was following me, guiding me, that it was my guardian angel,” he once commented. One such star gave him his inspiration for his Angel Perfume bottle.  

The exhibit highlights the lifelong-collaboration between Mugler and photographer Helmet Newton, who started working with Mugler in the late 1970s. There are many of Newton’s photos and significant fashion sketches that are part of the 100-piece show. Music fits the theme of each room. 

“I’m so excited to bring Couturissime to Brooklyn,” said Casey Cadwallader, director of Mugler. “The exhibition is a vibrant journey through Manfred Thierry Mugler’s vision and legacy. A true creative, running in his own lane, he was true to himself, because it was the only way he knew how to be.” 

Reserve timed tickets for Thierry Mugler: Couturissime by visiting:

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