Manfred Thierry Mugler 1948 - 2022

The legendary French fashion designer has passed away, leaving behind a legacy of fantasy, glamour and profound humanity. 

by Mahoro Seward
24 January 2022, 11:43am

This morning, the fashion industry woke up to the news of the loss of another titan: Manfred Thierry Mugler. Announced via a post on the legendary French designer’s personal Instagram account, Thierry passed away on Sunday of “natural causes”, The Guardian reports, triggering an outpouring of tributes from some of the most prominent voices in fashion and entertainment. 

First coming to prominence in the mid-1970s, the designer played a formative role in shaping the exaggerated, architectural style that came to be known as “power dressing” — bold-shouldered, wasp-waisted tailoring that cut imposing, dramatic silhouettes. Through the late 80s and 90s, he then went on to create some of the most enrapturing, otherworldly and outlandishly camp fashion confections the world has ever seen. Fittingly, his work was often presented in marathon spectacles that were more like acts of classical theatre than the 10-minute fashion week sprints we’re more used to today. 

He became one of the most in-demand designers for stage-friendly style throughout his career. David Bowie famously catalysed the rising of the designer’s star when he wore a Mugler dress for his 1979 Saturday Night Live performance. The designer was behind some of the most significant fashion and pop culture crossover moments in history: the looks worn by Linda, Christy, Naomi and co. in George Michael’s “Too Funky” video; the seminal campaigns for his best-selling perfume, Angel, starring Jerry Hall; and the custom looks he’s created for some of today’s most emblematic celebrities — perhaps most memorable of all being the wet-look dress he designed for Kim Kardashian West for the 2019 Met Gala.

For all the sparkle, fantasy and theatricality of the world that Manfred Thierry Mugler built, a profound sense of humanity remained at the core. Throughout his lifetime, the designer was one of the most staunch advocates of the LGBTQ community, casting trans models like Connie Fleming and Teri Toye on his runway in the 90s; and in 1992 presenting the very first Life Ball, now one of the world’s biggest charity events supporting people living with HIV and AIDS. 

Though his passing certainly marks a huge loss for the world, his legacy is an indelible one. As Casey Cadwallader, the current creative director of the house Manfred Thierry Mugler founded, wrote in an Instagram post, he “changed our perception of beauty, of confidence, of representation, of self-empowerment,” laying the foundation for fashion culture as we now know it.