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The Arts as They Depend on Each Other: The Thierry Mugler: Couturissime Exhibit at the Brooklyn Art Museum

March 27, 2023

Written by Emma Delarosa

The arts exist as a reciprocal ecosystem of creative minds that feed off of and inspire one another. Different art forms connect into mutualistic relationships that burst with passion and elevated imagination. A booming ecology of art proliferates.  Thierry Mugler’s architectural and avant-garde haute couture stamped a legacy that continues to bleed into varying industries, including performance, music, and photography. Mugler’s work is explored in the extensive Thierry Mugler: Couturissime exhibit at the Brooklyn Art Museum, which runs until May 7, 2023. Couturissime debuted in November of 2022 following his death in January 2022, celebrating his expansive career.

The first exhibit of the museum featured Mugler’s costume design for the 1985 production of The Tragedy of Macbeth. A life-sized hologram of the piece for Lady Macbeth opened the exhibit in flames, reanimating  Mugler’s experimental design. As the primary source of light, she intimidated and simultaneously captivated all who walked past her. Flames and iridescent fabric brought a daunting feminine energy into the room. Theater and fashion joined forces to adequately foster the strong and frightening character of Lady Macbeth.

Moving past this piece, you’re confronted by the noir, expressionist, and surrealist photography of Helmut Newton. It’s provocative, it’s sexy, it’s daring: it couples perfectly with Mugler’s approach to fashion. Newton’s photography is sharp enough on its own, but Mugler’s design compliments and enhances it to a striking level.

Another artist who partnered with Mugler was George Michael for his 1992 music video “Too Funky.” Michael hired Mugler to shoot the video, co-direct, and design the costumes. The sultry music video of sex and theatrics was a consummate musical outlet for Mugler’s work. This iconic collaboration exists as a landmark of Mugler’s career.

Mugler’s permeating presence is explained by his fascination with metamorphosis. The exhibit dedicates a section to his fascination with metamorphosis and insects. The nature-inspired collection used a variety of materials and textures to convey those found in nature. “When presenting his designs on the runway, he felt that his personally cast models and star performers were so attuned to nature’s rhythms and instincts that they were gifted with the ability to bring his most fantastical creations to life,” explained the section’s description.

Art is ever-evolving, as is nature, and as are we. Mugler recognized this, so he refused limitation. Fashion in conjunction with photography, music, performance, and even the natural world creates something powerful. Catharsis lies in this power.

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