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The Mass Media

French designer Thierry Mugler dies at 73

Photograph+of+Thierry+Mugler.

Photograph of Thierry Mugler.

On Jan. 23, 73-year-old French fashion tycoon Thierry Mugler passed away in his home in Vincennes on the outskirts of Paris. The cause of death has not been determined; however, he is said to have passed from natural causes.
Mugler came to prominence in the 1980s and ‘90s with his bold and extravagant designs intended to showcase the strength and power of his models and women in general. However, prior to his fashion career, he dabbled in many arenas of art. 
Mugler studied at the School of Fine Arts in Strasbourg, France, his birthplace. He danced with the school’s opera, had experience as an acrobat, worked as a photographer as well as a fashion model alongside designers in Paris, and eventually opened his own label in 1974. The ideal of the “femme fatale” was a driving influence in his work. 
His perfume line, “Angel,” has remained popular since its arrival to the market in the ‘90s. The perfume is famous for its uniquely sweet aroma, which is said to be inspired by Mugler’s desire for the smell of childhood. He used scents of cotton candy, candy floss, chocolate, caramel and more; the hyper sweetness of his perfume deeply contrasted those available on the market at the time.
As perfume critic Sable Yong said, “it is so decadent that you either love it or can’t stand it, but either way, it’s memorable,” which can be used to summarize Mugler’s history of work.
Mugler’s legacy is tied to the ideals he aimed to show in his work: strength, the power in sexiness and fun. His work was often described as camp and outlandish; in one 1997 couture show his models dressed up like insects. In other shows they were modeled after robots, vehicles and more. 
Mugler’s exaggerated designs accentuated the features of his models, such as their hips and shoulders, to give them a dominating presence. Early in his career, these designs were often argued to be “sexist fantasies,” but their resurfacing and revival have started conversations of Mugler being ahead of his time.  
As the New York Times writes: “The dominatrix-loving couturier turned sex into a style weapon.”  Mugler’s work has been taken and understood in differing ways, but ultimately, it’s indisputable the lasting impact he’s had on the world of fashion.
Though Mugler formally stepped away from designing in the early 2000s, his impact on the fashion world and his camp style left a lasting impression. In his retirement, he occasionally stepped out to connect with or design for many renowned women in the entertainment industry, such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Cardi B, Megan Fox and more.
In 2009, Mugler worked as the creative advisor of Beyonce’s “I Am…Sasha Fierce” tour. He also held a notable impact at the 2019 Met Gala, returning to the fashion spotlight after designing Kim Kardashian’s “wet” Met look—creating a design that made her appear soaked in water. This was his first individual design since 2003, and reportedly took eight months to complete; the style held the essence of his early work through the optical illusion appearance of Kardashian’s figure.
Mugler’s death marks a major event in the fashion world and many who have admired, worked with or worn Mugler have expressed their grief. His bold and outlandish designs survived decades of fashion scrutiny and are remembered for their individuality. To summarize Mugler’s legacy in his own words: “The opposite of good taste is safe.” 

About the Contributor
Sean Liddy, News Writer