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French designer Thierry Mugler presents his first retrospective in Montreal
Designs by French fashion designer Thierry Mugler are on display during his exhibition "Couturissime" at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, on February 26, 2019. MARTIN OUELLET-DIOTTE / MARTIN OUELLET-DIOTTE / AFP / AFP.

MONTREAL.- Thierry Mugler: Couturissime explores the multiple universes of Thierry Mugler, couturier, director, photographer and visionary perfumer. Initiated, produced and circulated by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, in collaboration with the Clarins Group and Maison Mugler, this major exhibition traces the work of an original creative force who revolutionized fashion and haute couture.

Thierry Mugler: Couturissime features some 150 outfits – most restored and exhibited for the first time – produced between 1977 and 2014, in addition to accessories, theatre costumes, videos, film clips, videos, archives and unpublished sketches. It also presents a hundred rare prints by the greatest fashion photographers and artists, including Max Abadian, Lillian Bassman, Guy Bourdin, Jean-Paul Goude, Karl Lagerfeld, Dominique Issermann, David LaChapelle, Luigi & Iango, Alix Malka, Steven Meisel, Mert & Marcus, Sarah Moon, Pierre et Gilles, Paolo Roversi, Herb Ritts, and Ellen von Unwerth. An entire gallery is dedicated to the collaboration between the couturier and photographer Helmut Newton. The exhibition also features a rotation of 16 of the costumes designed by Mugler for La Tragédie de Macbeth, shown here for the first time since the 1985 Comédie-Française production at the Festival d’Avignon.

“People have offered to exhibit my work a number of times, but the idea of simply looking back has never interested me. The MMFA with Nathalie Bondil and Thierry-Maxime Loriot were the right people, with the right approach, to reinvent the past with innovative staging, eclectic melanges and a new vision of my work. There is no future without a past, so I hope that this exhibition will inspire in its visitors a new creative future,” said Manfred Thierry Mugler.

Nathalie Bondil, MMFA Director General and Chief Curator, explains: “Paying homage to couturiers, those contemporary artists, both with them and for them, is a source of pride for the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts... and for me personally, because there are very few in this exclusive world of haute couture who have created their own fashion house. I am proud to be able to share the masterful creations of Thierry Mugler. Metamorphoses, superheroines and cyborgs inhabit the work of this designer who perceived early on, and with considerable humour, the coming transhumanist revolutions. His sleek, elegant creatures, his dangerous seductresses, populate a world of glamour at the edges of reality. Subjects, rather than objects, of their sexuality, these women possess devastating humour and irresistible power. It is a privilege to unveil as a world premiere in Montreal – before they embark on an international tour – these fragile, preserved outfits, totally inaccessible to the general public.

This exhibition was created with the designer. I want to thank Thierry Mugler for his confidence and his talent that has inspired us so much over the years. I want to acknowledge the excellent research carried out by Thierry-Maxime Loriot. Thank you to Clarins Group and Maison Mugler for having restored this fashion heritage. Thank you to all those who have revealed the secrets of these demanding creative and artistic métiers. Thank you to the many teams who have done a phenomenal job. Mounting a fashion exhibition is a complex endeavour. It includes not only thousands of works, pieces and accessories to be assembled, but also – because we opted for a spectacular dimension of installation and setting – immersive special effects and exceptional sets. Welcome to the theatre of fashion. The curtain is rising!”

“Thierry Mugler not only left his mark on his era, he revolutionized fashion with his creations in sculptural forms that are both futuristic and elegant. He staged the most spectacular fashion shows and breathed new life into haute couture, notably through the use of new materials such as metal, latex and faux fur. His distinctive style transcended trends, and continues to influence a new generation of couturiers,” notes exhibition curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot.

Manfred Thierry Mugler revived French haute couture, at a time when it was competing with New York cool and Milanese expertise. He created an architectural style and bold silhouettes imbued with fantasy. His severe suits with superheroine shoulders and corseted waists clothe a woman who is sublimated, powerful and sensual. Mugler experiments with avant-garde techniques and materials – glass, plexiglass, PVC, faux fur, vinyl, latex, chrome – in his high-tech, “industrial couture” atelier-labs. His creations evoke by turns Hollywood glamour, dreams, fauna, eroticism and science fiction.

The couturier has been involved in numerous collaborations, working in particular with interior designer Andrée Putman for his boutiques. His creations have been photographed by the greats: Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, Ellen von Unwerth, Lillian Bassman, Herb Ritts, David LaChapelle, Pierre et Gilles, Sarah Moon, etc. Mugler directed the iconic "Too Funky" music video with singer George Michael, as well as short films with actresses Isabelle Huppert and Juliette Binoche. He was the first to stage fashion shows – the most spectacular of the period – with the generation of supermodels. He created the costumes for Shakespeare’s Macbeth for the Comédie-Française, and those of Zumanity for the Cirque du Soleil. He also has directed several musical revues such as The Wyld, at Friedrichstadt-Palast in Berlin. He has dressed a myriad of celebrities, including Diana Ross, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Liza Minnelli, Diane Dufresne, Celine Dion, and Beyoncé.

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March 3, 2019

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