Thierry Mugler: Couturissime

Oct. 13, 2019 – March 8, 2020
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This fall the Kunsthal Rotterdam proudly presents the first retrospective on French creator Thierry Mugler. This major exhibition will reveal the multiple universes of this undeniably artistic figure – visionary couturier, director, photographer and perfumer – in a retrospective of his work, especially his ready-to-wear and haute couture creations. Initiated, produced and circulated by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, in collaboration with the Clarins Group and the Maison Mugler, the exhibition’s world premiere will launch in Montreal in March 2019. As collaboration partner, the Kunsthal Rotterdam will be the second stop and the first venue in Europe to show this spectacular retrospective.

“I have always been fascinated by the most beautiful animal on Earth: the human being. I have used all of the tools at my disposal to sublimate this creature: fashion, shows, perfumes, photography, video... I am not a person who dwells in the past, but the MMFA, through Nathalie Bondil, was the first to propose to me to stage my creations and imagine together a free, global and reinvented artistic vision. How could I refuse?” said creator Manfred Thierry Mugler.

Spectacular and immersive

The exhibition ‘Thierry Mugler: Couturissime’ brings together more than 150 outfits, most of them on display for the first time, created between 1977 and 2014, as well as many never-before seen accessories and stage costumes, clips and videos, archival documents and sketches. A hundred works by the greatest contemporary fashion photographers such as Guy Bourdin, Jean-Paul Goude, David LaChapelle, Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, Dominique Issermann round out the exhibition. Many of the immersive galleries have been designed by artists such as Michel Lemieux and Philipp Fürhofer, and special effects studio Rodeo FX. London-based designer Tord Boontje has also created Swarovski crystal chandeliers for one of the galleries. The mannequins were custom-made by Hans Boodt Mannequins, Rotterdam.

Singular imagination

‘Thierry Mugler: Couturissime’ traces the path of an exceptional creator who revolutionized fashion with morphological and futuristic cuts, and glamorous, sculptural and elegant silhouettes; strict lines and super-heroine shoulders; and a corseted waist dressing a sublime, sensual and powerful woman in constant metamorphosis. The exhibition offers a dive into his singular imagination, to encounter by turns his perfectionism, Hollywood-style prestige, dreams, exotic creatures, eroticism, and science fiction. It will explain his audacious choices, such as using innovative materials in high fashion such as metal, fake fur, vinyl and latex.

Emily Ansenk, former Director Kunsthal added: “We are very proud to be able to present yet another fashion icon to the Dutch public this autumn. The Kunsthal has established a strong tradition in programming world renowned fashion exhibitions in the Netherlands – from Jean Paul Gaultier and Peter Lindbergh to Viktor &Rolf – and we consider it a great honour to be the first venue in Europe to show this special retrospective of Thierry Mugler. We are looking forward to a renewed collaboration with Nathalie Bondil, Thierry-Maxime Loriot and all partners involved.”

About Thierry Mugler

Over the course of his career, Thierry Mugler has had many collaborations with filmmakers, architects such as Andrée Putman for his boutiques, and renowned photographers and artists, such as Helmut Newton, Dominique Issermann, Guy Bourdin, Herb Ritts, David LaChapelle and Pierre & Gilles, many of whose works will be presented in the exhibition.‘Thierry Mugler: Couturissime’ marks the Helmut Newton Foundation’s first participation, since its inauguration in Berlin in 2013, as a lender to an exhibition designed by a foreign museum. 

As a photographer and filmmaker, Mugler directed the emblematic 1990s video “Too Funky” by British singer George Michael, as well as short films starring actresses Isabelle Huppert and Juliette Binoche. Thierry Mugler has staged some of the most spectacular fashion shows of his time. He created the costumes for the staging of Shakespeare’s Macbeth by the Comédie-Française and the Festival d’Avignon, and the Zumanity show by the Cirque du Soleil. He also created and staged his own revues such as the Mugler Follies in Paris and The Wyld at Berlin’s Friedrichstadt-Palast. He has dressed a galaxy of stars, such as Diana Ross, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Liza Minnelli and Céline Dion. He has also created costumes for Mylène Farmer and Beyoncé for their tours and videos.

“The work of Thierry Mugler is as distinctive as it is avant-garde. It has an architectural, hyper-feminized style that sublimates the curves of the femme fatale. This creator knows how to distinguish himself through constant innovation and audacious silhouettes that have marked an era, and found a place in the history of fashion. His singular style, a kind of futurist version of New Look with a touch of fantasy and fetishism, is still a powerful influence on today’s generation of couturiers,” added Thierry-Maxime Loriot, exhibition curator.

Publication

The first comprehensive monograph edited by curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot, richly illustrated, is published by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Publishing Department and Phaidon. It provides a foray into the world of Thierry Mugler, including unpublished and little-known material. Two chapters of the book are dedicated to the creator's collaboration with German photographer Helmut Newton (1920–2004) and French photographer Guy Bourdin (1928-1991). The book also brings together images by some of the biggest names in photography, such as Richard Avedon, Lillian Bassman, Jean-Paul Goude, Dominique Issermann, David LaChapelle, Luigi & Iango, Alix Malka, Steven Meisel, Mert & Marcus, Sarah Moon, Pierre et Gilles, Paolo Roversi, Herb Ritts, Francesco Scavullo, Ellen von Unwerth and Bruce Weber, in addition to photographs by Mugler himself. Numerous sketches and unpublished documents, as well as reverse polaroid shots and other photos taken in the wings and during fashion shows are being published for the first time. The book is designed by the Montreal-based firm Paprika.

16. Max Abadian, Manfred Thierry Mugler, 2018. Photo Max Abadian.jpg
Manfred Thierry Mugler © Max Abadian

Curatorial Credits

The exhibition is curated by Thierry-Maxime Loriot under the direction of Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
The original exhibition design and adaptation is by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, under the direction of Sandra Gagné, Head of Exhibitions Production. The exhibition's international tour has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Hans Boodt Mannequins, Christie and Tourisme Montréal.

PRESS RELEASE

1.Alan Strutt, Yasmin Le Bon, Palladium, Londen, 1997_ Evening Standard Magazine, oktober 1997. Foto ©Alan Strutt_LR.jpg
Alan Strutt, Yasmin Le Bon, Palladium, London, 1997 ; Evening Standard Magazine, October 1997. Photo: © Alan Strutt. Outfit : Thierry Mugler, La Chimère collection, “La Chimère” gown, haute couture fall/winter 1997–1998.
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David LaChapelle, Danie Alexander; London Sunday Times, May 1998. Photo: © David LaChapelle. Outfit: Thierry Mugler, Jeu de Paume collection, haute couture spring/summer 1998.
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Dominique Issermann, Jerry Hall. Photo: © Dominique Issermann. Outfit: Thierry Mugler, Les Insectes collection, haute couture spring/summer 1997.