Celebrated French fashion designer Thierry Mugler, whose eponymous fashion line was worn by the likes of Diana Ross, David Bowie, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, died Sunday at the age of 73.
His death was announced on the designer’s personal Instagram page, and later confirmed on the official Mugler fashion account, with the brand calling him “a visionary whose imagination as a couturier, perfumer and image-maker, empowered people around the world to be bolder and dream bigger everyday.” A cause of death was not immediately available.
Ross, meantime, posted a throwback photo with her friend on Twitter, calling it “a wonderful time in our lives.”
I will miss you Thierry Mugler this was a wonderful time in our lives pic.twitter.com/Z3ggaVjK2D
— Ms. Ross (@DianaRoss) January 24, 2022
Born in Strasbourg, France, Mugler’s early years were spent immersed in dance, before he found his calling in fashion, reportedly drawn from the experience of designing his own outfits for recitals and performances. Mugler moved to Paris in his Twenties to intern for a number of French fashion houses before launching his own collection in 1973.
Over the years, the Mugler brand became synonymous with bold, rebellious style, with dramatic pieces that referenced everything from fine art and theater to architecture and androids. A favorite of supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell, Mugler’s work quickly crossed over into the music world as well, with many of the biggest artists in the world clamoring for his statement-making pieces.
One of the first big musicians to put Mugler on the map was David Bowie, who famously wore a Mugler dress for his 1979 Saturday Night Live appearance. Mugler would later design Bowie’s classic black tux for the singer’s wedding to the model, Iman, in 1992.
Mugler also had a close relationship with George Michael, designing the outfits for Michael’s “Too Funky” music video, which featured the singer directing a fictitious runway show as models Linda Evangelista and Tyra Banks strutted down the catwalk in custom Mugler catsuits, lace gowns and motorcycle-inspired corsets. Beyoncé would later wear the Harley Davidson corset featured in the video in promotional photos for her 2009 “I Am…” tour.
In addition to working with Bowie and Michael, Mugler often dressed stars like Madonna and Ross, the latter of whom memorably waltzed down the runway at the designer’s 1991 butterfly-inspired show. A then-19-year-old Tracee Ellis Ross followed her mother by walking in the show as well.
Though he officially retired from the brand in 2003 (the label is currently helmed by American designer Casey Cadwallader) Mugler’s influence continued to be seen — and felt — in music. Lady Gaga dug into the Mugler archives for her “Telephone” music video in 2010, sporting a dramatic, sculptural suit-dress and hat from the designer’s 1995 collection. The singer also wore a latex rubber Mugler dress to the 2011 Grammys — after she excited the now-infamous “egg” to accept her awards on stage.
Other musicians who have sported Mugler in recent years include Rihanna, Dua Lipa (who wore a Mugler bodysuit for her Rolling Stone cover story in January) and Katy Perry, who appeared in an archival 1990 rainbow-hued Mugler dress on her “Prismatic” world tour poster.
Cardi B was the latest artist given access to the Mugler archives, wearing a vintage “Birth of Venus”-inspired dress from the designer’s fall 1995 collection to the Grammy red carpet in 2019. She later donned a white dress from Mugler’s 1997 collection, as she accepted her Grammy onstage for Best Rap Artist.
In recent years, Mugler had devoted himself to creative projects that incorporated his love of fashion and performance. Beyoncé personally requested him as artistic director for her “I Am…” world tour in 2009, after discovering his work on exhibition at the Met. Per a promotional video for the tour, the singer asked Mugler to create the costumes for her and her dancers, with the designer conceptualizing 58 outfits in total. Mugler also played a part in the choreography, lighting design and artistic direction of the show, as well as in the production of the subsequent concert film.
An accomplished photographer as well, Mugler released a hardcover tome of photos in 2020, featuring more than 150 prints from behind-the-scenes at his atelier, and from his personal collection.
Cardi B was one of the last celebrities to be photographed with the designer, supporting Mugler at the opening of his retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris last September. Though she has yet to comment on Mugler’s death, her caption at the time called him, “Truly one of my favorite creative minds in the world.”