During the lockdown years, comfy pajamas and slippers enjoyed a surge. Then, there was Mugler: the sexy, risqué, outrageous, fetish-y Mugler that became the counter-intuitive community-gelling phenomenon. Masterminded by Casey Cadwallader, with an assist from Megan Thee Stallion and her butt cut-out jeans, Mugler’s success drove ‘body-consciousness’ to anatomical places that fashion never dared look at before.
Which applied—in spades—to the multimedia, multi-everyone Mugler spectacular that Cadwallader threw in Paris last night. “We’re showing during couture week because we’re bad. At Mugler we do whatever we want,” he stated before the choreographed mayhem kicked off. “We’re quite an outlier in the way we do things,” he added. “We’ve been doing quite well by being so communicative and trying to entertain the public. The films have millions of viewers and the idea is that this is a live show.” It’s a see-now, buy-now collection, into the bargain.
What went down: a runway frenzy that idolised the talents and bodies of models and friends of the house simultaneously merged with live-captured dolly footage of said models and friends, which was consumed on a vast screen erected at the top of a set of stairs. And all over the internet, obviously.
Crews of men on movie dollies slid on tracks filming the wildly whooped-at cast: Arca, Ziwe, Omayra, Irina, Paloma, Mariacarla, Shalom, Amber, Eva Herzigova. There was hair swishing galore. A synchronized handbag-swinging lace-bodysuited dance troupe occupied some center steps. Then one by one, each Mugler supermodel climbed aboard another dolly, on which they could pose around a pole for the return journey.
This second crew had a low-down camera which zoomed up crotch-wards, deploying a technique which might be termed up-skirting—had there been any skirts in evidence. Magnified on the monolithic screen to the height of roughly 25 feet, these oooh-aaah fragments were flashed in a live-streamed mix.
What about the fashion content? Categorising it as a collection of leather and lace doesn’t quite cover it. One thing to be said: Whether manifesting as baggy-topped leather chaps suspended under a hip-grazing heavy-duty chrome-zippered bodysuit, or a bisected one-leg, one-sleeve motorcycle suit, or indeed anything Cadwallader did with stretch black lace—it all miraculously, thankfully, stayed in place.
And that is quite a technical achievement. It’s tricky to compare Cadwallader’s Mugler with Manfred Thierry Mugler’s original haute couture extravaganzas. In 2023, as far as being inclusive to bodies and identities, Cadwallader for sure outdoes the departed master. But Monsieur Mugler was the outlier in his time: the man who foresaw fashion shows as cinematic tableaux spectacles. In his era, it was the fusion of old Hollywood, the Folies Bergère, and couture fantasia that made it controversially edgy. In the olden days of the 1980s, there were critics who rolled their eyes and demanded, “but is it fashion?” Plus ça change.
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This story was originally published on Vogue.com.