If we didn’t know better, we might have thought Lady Gaga was about to drop another blockbuster video on MTV. That’s how thick the hype surrounding the relaunch of Thierry Mugler (now just Mugler) has been. In the week leading up to the men’s spring collection, the brand’s new creative director Nicola Formichetti teased us mercilessly with mysterious images of a model sporting a leather motorcycle jacket, cyborg-looking crown, and what looked like a skull mask. Except it wasn’t a mask, but a full scalp and face tattoo. (You could easily miss the face for the tats, but the face has a name, Rick Genest, whom Nicola discovered on Facebook—where else?) Then there was the grabby headline that Gags herself, the show’s “musical director,” was crafting a special ditty for the occasion. Meanwhile, there was talk of a film short, and of course Hintsters will remember our own titillating post that got the ball rolling.

But those expecting signature Thierry madness (a jacket made out of motorcycle handlebars or a suit pieced together from slabs of raw meat, perhaps?) might have been slightly let down by this first offering. But then again, Nicola’s aim here was not to reproduce Mugler or the Haus of Gaga—because, well, there’s plenty of crazy to go around (when Toddlers & Tiaras is already doing Gaga redux, do we really need another pair of pointy shoulders?).

In fact the biggest shock, face tattoos aside, was how pared-down and tame the overall collection was, when you strip it down to the essentials. Traditional men’s tailoring was the focus. Among the standouts: a crisp navy three-piece suit, slouchy wool flannel trousers, and some killer three quarter coats that would make for nice evening wear for Trekkies. This is clearly the hand of the house’s new men’s designer, Romain Kremer, whose expertise with his own sci-fi collections has made for some very convincing moments.

Of course, a touch of the maniacal was never far away, but with an austere restraint that said “just for the runway.” These included latex gloves, a vest made of mirror glass, and those unfortunate veils, which read more Blanket Jackson than anything else. All in all a controlled, subdued, respectable debut—and that’s perhaps the most perverse tack Nicola could’ve taken. 

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