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Famed Designer Manfred Thierry Mugler Has Died at 73

Thierry Mugler

Designer Manfred Thierry Mugler, the founder of the brand Mugler, has died.

His personal Instagram account first reported the news.

“We are devastated to announce the passing of Mr Manfred Thierry Mugler on Sunday January 23 2022,” they wrote. “May his soul rest in peace.”

Mugler was an iconic designer who made an international name for himself in the 1980s and early 1990s. His creations have gone on to inspire generations of designers, and in his over-the-top theatrical shows, he was one of the first designers to consistently use out trans models on the runway.

He was born in Strasbourg, France, and started studying classical dance at a young age — he learned to make clothing by making outfits for himself. He began his design career in 1971 but didn't launch is own collection until 1973. His designs often featured broad, sharp shoulders, high glamour, and sharp tailoring. He also often incorporated sci-fi or futuristic elements into his designs.

While his creations were marvels in and of themselves, Mugler began to present them in arena-like presentations with over-the-top themes. His brand expanded, with the designer showing at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week as well as launching a successful fragrance arm — this started with Angel in 1992. Parent company Clarins shuttered the apparel line in 2003 and Manfred turned his creativity elsewhere. (Claris had bought the brand in 1997.) The fragrances remain some of the best-selling in history.

He also explored other projects like doing the costumes for the models in George Michael's "Too Funky" video in 1992. 

As his fashion shows became spectacles, his castings for those shows varied. He would cast bonafide supermodels as well as celebrities. He also often cast out trans women. For example, in the spring 1991 show Tracee Ellis Ross, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Roberta Close all walked the runway. In addition to Close, other trans models like Connie Fleming and Teri Toye walked in Mugler shows in the early '90s.

In 2009, after his retirement from fashion, Mugler notably created the costumes for Beyonce's I Am ... world tour and functioned as an artistic adviser to her. He also directed for Cirque du Soleil and has worked as a photographer. In addition, he became a bodybuilder.

Over the past decade, there has been a renewed interest in Mugler designs, which has materialized in not only retrospectives but celebrities wearing archival pieces. The house of Mugler is currently under the purview of creative director Casey Cadwallader. Cadwallader stepped into the role in 2018 but was preceded by designers like David Koma and Nicola Formichetti.

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