Bella Hadid, Amber Valletta Star in the New Mugler F/W 2021 RTW Collection Film

Considering French fashion legend Thierry Mugler is already getting his own museum retrospectives, it would seem hardly easy following in his monumental footsteps (he exited in 2003). Indeed, the iconoclastic designer’s Couturissime exhibit had already traveled from Montreal to Rotterdam, and has just recently opened at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs to rave reviews.

But since taking over the house in 2018, Casey Cadwallader (an American) has done his very best to live up to the legend, and has even created a few iconic moments of his own as the current Creative Director. To wit, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s controversial ‘WAP’ video, and especially Kim Kardashian’s gasp-inducing 2019 Met Gala look, which resulted in untold, pearl-clutching column inches.

Fall/Winter 2021, though, Cadwallader seems to have truly and ultimately defined this new era of Mugler, with a collection that is something of a treatise on elegance and glamour as visual provocation. Fittingly, the accompanying short film seeks to harken back to the wild energy of Monsieur Mugler’s infamous, zeitgeist-defining shows, bringing together a cast that includes the likes of Bella Hadid, Amber Valletta, Lourdes Leon, Sora Choi and Lala &ce for a gloriously hyper-sensory and even somewhat futuristic presentation.

Against a gleaming white backdrop that jitters and flashes to black and blue, making clever use of shadows and light, the models march almost militaristically alongside virtual robots, in the form of animated mannequins, all the while daringly but matter-of-factly offering glimpses of torsos, breasts and posteriors. At times it looks a bit like Mad Max goes to the museum, and the peripatetic, genre-hopping soundtrack merely ups the audacity factor. Seriously, this is precisely the sort of thing we should be expecting from the House of Mugler, seeming to show little regard for pragmatism or current trends.

It’s also just the sort of exuberant contrarianism we need after more than a year of fashion being stifled by a global pandemic. And frankly, we can’t wait to see what Cadwallader has planned for 2022…

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