Manfred Thierry Mugler, the Pioneering French Designer, Has Died

Photo: William Stevens/Getty Images)

Manfred Thierry Mugler, the pioneering French fashion designer whose extravagant and avant-garde garments helped render a new era of haute couture, has died at 73 years old, his official Instagram account confirmed late on Sunday night.

“#RIP,” the post read, captioning a black square. “We are devastated to announce the passing of Mr Manfred Thierry Mugler on Sunday January 23rd 2022. May his soul Rest In Peace.”

Mugler launched his eponymous brand in 1973, crafting clothes for stars like Grace Jones, David Bowie, and Diana Ross. He was also one of the first high-profile designers to embrace diversity on his runway, where he featured transgender models as well as drag queens and porn stars.

“The outwardness of designers embracing being gay wasn’t then a thing,” said Paul Cavaco, who was a Harper’s BAZAAR fashion director during Mugler’s prime, per The New York Times. “People knew but you didn’t really talk about it. It was considered not chic. And here he was sending drag queens like Lypsinka down the runway.”

Diana Ross wears Mugler in 1990. (Photo: Pool Arnal/Garcia/Getty Images)
Models at the Mugler Ready-to-Wear Fall/Winter 1995 fashion show. (Photo: Jon Van Hasselt/Corbis/Getty Images)

Power, sex, drama, and the hyperfeminine were common themes in his work. A Mugler creation could be distinguished for its architectural silhouette, generous use of patent leather, or the employment of provocative cut-outs. Some of his most iconic pieces of work straddled the border between high fashion and fantasy, with the designer incorporating elements inspired from sci-fi and Surrealism.

Models presenting the Mugler spring-summer 1992 ready-to-wear collection. (Photo: Daniel Simon/Getty Images)
Model Eva Herzigova walks the runway at the Mugler Ready to Wear Spring-Summer 1992-1993 fashion show. (Photo: Victor Virgile/Getty Images)
Model Nadja Auermann at the Mugler Ready-to-Wear Spring-Summer 1994 fashion show. (Photo: Pool Arnal/Pat/Getty Images)

In 2002, he officially retired from his brand, though he later returned as a creative advisor in 2013. Of his retirement, he told Elle in 2017, “Fashion is beautiful, 3-D art on a human being. But it wasn’t enough, which is why I went on to create in other ways. For me, it wasn’t the right tool anymore.”

In recent years, Mugler’s work has had a resurgence, with many of his vintage designs seeing new life on the likes of Lady Gaga and Cardi B. He also designed costumes for Beyoncé‘s I Am… World Tour, which ran from 2008-2009. On few occasions, he even left retirement, as he did when he created Kim Kardashian‘s iconic custom “wet” look for the 2019 Met Gala.

“I’m very drawn to architecture and the structure of the human face, so I search for beauty of all types, regardless of geographical origin,” Mugler told WWD last year. “I like to find a true example, or an extreme, for every type of beauty.”

Kim Kardashian at the 2019 Met Gala. (Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US