Paris Fashion Week: Mugler menswear is reborn, and Lady Gaga is the midwife


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The big question on everybody’s mind going into the Thierry Mugler menswear show on the opening night of Paris Fashion Week was whether Lady Gaga would be present, because it was the debut collection for the new creative director, Nicola Formichetti, who has helped shape some of the entertainer’s more distinctive looks.

Unless she was well disguised, she wasn’t evident in the front of the house -- but she was definitely heard. Listed in the show notes as ‘the musical director of this menswear project,’ she created the soundtrack that played during the show.


But the possibility of such an A-level celebrity sighting was enough to pack the house (well, a concrete-floored automotive garage in Paris’ 3rd Arrondissement, actually) with a standing-room only crowd, which witnessed the rebirth of the label.

Rebirth because in addition to new creative blood at the helm, there’s been a name change. From now on, the clothing collections will be known simply as ‘Mugler’ and be accompanied by a new logo, both

signifying, according to the notes, ‘a new chapter in the history of the brand.’ (Formichetti collaborated on the collection with new menswear design director Romain Kremer.) [For the record at 6:11 a.m., Jan. 20: An earlier version of this post stated Romain Kremer was continuing in his role as menswear design director at Mugler. This is his first season in that role.]

That ‘new chapter’ notion was also reflected in a short black-and-white film that accompanied the show (directed by fashion photographer Mariano Vivanco), which began with a man peeling a black skin-like layer from his face and head to reveal a full-skull tattoo complete with the wrinkled folds of the human brain. The skeletal skin ink is real and the man beneath it is Rick ‘Rico’ Genest, who serves as the muse for the inaugural ‘Anatomy of Change’ collection.

(If you’re interested -- and you know you are -- the short film featuring Rico and the Lady Gaga soundtrack is scheduled to be posted to the Mugler website exactly 24 hours after the show, which would be Thursday at 9 a.m. PST.)

Formichetti, then, was letting us know exactly what he’s done -- he’s peeled away the old skin, looked at the bones of the label and rebuilt from there.

So it’s not surprising that the first collection would hit all the extremes; some trousers were nearly skintight in the seat and voluminous in the leg; others were padded at the ankles, like protective motorcycle gear. Jackets ranged from cropped cutaway length to mid-calf, some belted or nipped in at the waist, others unbelted. Some looks included free-flowing apron- or nightshirt-like tops, while one included a mirrored breastplate.

There were enough skintight, past-the-pectoral black latex gloves on the catwalk to satisfy a bondage convention, but there were also floating and billowing nylon fabrics, stretchy and sturdy neoprene and traditional knits or wovens. Some mixed fabrication pieces served up disparate elements in the same garment, like the nylon puffer jacket from neck to torso with a zip-off neoprene part the rest of the way to the hip.

The color palette also ran the gamut from bright oranges to dark navy blues intended to hearken back to the Mugler of old, as well as black and white and some neutral tones of gray, tan and brown.

If you look past the styling of the show, and the glaringly ghoulish look of its poster boy, the collection actually serves up a surprising number of wearable pieces -- and a little bit of something for everyone.

Now that the baby has been birthed, all Formichetti and company need to do is sit back and wait to see which of the multiple Mugler men might step forward and embrace their little bundle of joy.

-- Adam Tschorn in Paris