Mugler, Thierry

(1948- )
   Born in Strasbourg, France, Mugler studied dance at Lycée Fustel de Coulange at the age of fourteen and photography at nineteen at the École des Arts Decoratifs. As a dancer, he performed with the Rhine Opera Dance Company in 1965; he also worked as a professional photographer and window dresser for "Gudule" in Strasbourg, while simultaneously freelancing for designers in Paris, Milan, and London. In 1973, in partnership with Alain Cardeuc, he presented his first ready-to-wear under the label Café de Paris and officially opened Thierry Mugler in Paris in 1974. Designer Azzedine Aläia helped him with design until the late 1970s. With financial backing in 1977 from Didier Grumbach and Umberto Ginochetti, Mugler was the first to produce the "fashion show extravaganza." His background as a dancer inspired him to orchestrate every detail of his fashion show production, with some of his shows becoming public events. In 1984, he showed at the Zenith nightclub in Paris where he sold tickets to 6,000 people in celebration of his 10th year anniversary in business. Mugler, along with designer Claude Montana, helped keep French fashion in the forefront for more than a decade. They were both also known as the "bad boys of fashion" due to their rock-star lifestyle and volatile personalities.
   Mugler is known for his identifiable style that features the feminine shape and curve. He also has a penchant for fetish fashion which has been a theme throughout many of his collections. Although he was a favorite of France's first lady, Danielle Mitterand, his legacy is based on power-dressing, along with his Glamazon silhouette inspired by 1930s costumers Adrian and Edith Head, in combination with S & M, catwomen, and dominatrixes. His structured suits and jumpsuits, however, were at the core of his retail popularity and, by 1990, his business peaked with sales of $90 million. In 1992, Mugler presented an haute couture collection featuring a different corset for each of the sixty pieces shown. In the same year, in partnership with Groupe Clarins, he launched his highly successful fragrance, Angel, which was to outsell the very popular Chanel No. 5 and become one of the top ten fragrances of all time. In 1999, he launched the fragrance Angel Innocent.
   As fashion in the 1990s shifted to a more casual, pared-down look, Mugler did not respond and consequently his fashion business steadily declined. Clarins, who by 1997 was the majority shareholder, had a hard time dealing with Mugler's volatile personality and, in 2000, Mugler showed his last couture runway collection. In 2001, Mugler and Clarins released the men's fragrance, Cologne, but in 2003, Clarins closed the fashion house altogether. Although Mugler holds licenses for handbags, jewelry, and women's apparel, he lost interest in fashion. Instead, he designed the costumes for a Cirque de Soleil spectacle in Las Vegas, and devoted more time to his fragrance business. In 2004, the men's fragrance BMen was introduced, brother to AMen, which was launched in 1997 and was based on Mugler's vision of the superhero with an accompanying illustrated comic book. In 2005, Mugler launched his women's fragrance, Alien.
   See also Fragrance; Power suit.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

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