Thierry Mugler: a tribute to fashion’s showman
At the Brooklyn Museum, a tribute to fashion’s showman who built temples out of curves and proved clothing had metamorphic properties.
Nov. 17, 2022
Manfred Thierry Mugler, the boundary-pushing French couturier whose glamazons and fembots helped define fashion in the 1980s and ’90s and who died earlier this year, famously hated retrospectives. “In the museum world, everyone knew he was against the idea,” said Thierry-Maxime Loriot, the curator at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the institution that finally convinced Mugler to reconsider.
They changed his mind, Loriot said, by promising that any exhibition wouldn’t be a boring chronological tour of clothes. Instead, it would “look at the big themes, and put his work in the context of what his clothes represent in the world of now: creativity and the importance of being different.”
That was in 2016; the exhibition, “Thierry Mugler: Couturissime,” opened in Quebec in 2019. Now, after stops in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Munich and Paris, it has finally landed at the Brooklyn Museum, the latest in that institution’s series of traveling costume mega-shows orchestrated by Matthew Yokobosky, senior curator of fashion and material culture at the Brooklyn Museum. These include such exhibits as last year’s “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams,” and 2018’s “David Bowie Is,” which have served to bring a glamorous new cool (and presumably new audiences) to the museum.
Sprawling over 16,000 square feet, “Couturissime” comprises a mixed media display featuring approximately 130 outfits plus sketches, photographs, videos, and even scent, with backdrops created by a host of scenographers including Philipp Furhofer and Rodeo FX, the special effects company that worked on “Dune” and “Stranger Things,” the better to reflect the immersive theatricality of the runway shows that made his name.