The French fashion designer Manfred Thierry Mugler has died at the age of 73. His death was due to “natural causes” according to his agent.
On his official Mugler Instagram page, a statement said, “We are devastated to announce the passing of Mr Manfred Thierry Mugler on Sunday January 23rd 2022. May his soul Rest In Peace.”
Mugler was born and raised in Strasbourg, where he trained in his teens as a ballet dancer for six years. He relocated to Paris at the age of 24 and launched his eponymous fashion line in 1973. He opened his first boutique in 1978 and his fame skyrocketed in the 80s, with his broad-shouldered, theatrical designs perfectly chiming with the power-dressing ethos of the times.
Diana Ross, David Bowie and Grace Jones were among those he dressed, and celebrities flocked to his spectacular runway shows.
In later years, besides his clothing, he became just as known for his perfumes, including Angel and Alien.
Mugler sold the rights to his name to Clarins in 1997. He retired from his label in 2002 but continued to design occasional outfits for big-name clients. This included Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian’s Met Ball outfit in 2019. He was creative director for Beyoncé’s I AM world tour in 2010.
Mugler was an out, gay man. After retiring from his label, stepped away from the limelight and went by his real first name, Manfred. A longtime fan of bodybuilding, he transformed his body with the help of a trainer and bulked up, becoming quite unrecognizable from his former self (although this was partly due to reconstructive facial surgery he also underwent after a bad motorbike accident).
In a 2019 interview with Fashion, Mugler said he’d never had a problem with being gay, only with the reaction of others to it.
“I didn’t have a problem with my sexuality or identity. I had a problem with my family, and I had a problem with the world. I was feeling out of place, and I was feeling very miserable. I was in the ballet for six years, and no one in my family came to see me onstage; I was the ugly duckling who left the theatre alone. I guess I was too bizarre. I would watch the skies at night and look for the blue star and know that I had to hold on.”
“He was timeless and ahead of his time,” supermodel Jerry Hall told the New York Times in 2019. “He knew all about gender fluidity and his clothes reflected the heat and sexuality of the late 70s and early 80s.”
Among those to pay tribute to the designer was Diana Ross.
Casey Cadwallader, the current creative director at the house of Mugler, wrote on Instagram, “Manfred, I am so honored to have known you and to work within your beautiful world. You changed our perception of beauty, of confidence, of representation and self empowerment. Your legacy is something I carry with me in everything I do.”