Mugler Fall 1997 Couture

Editor’s note: This collection was originally presented on July 10, 1997 in Paris and has been digitized as part of Vogue Runway’s ongoing efforts to document historical fashion shows.

Thierry Mugler: Couturissime” landed in Brooklyn last month, the final stop of its world tour. Several of the looks on display were pulled from the designer’s fall 1997 Les Chimères (“Mythical Creatures”) couture collection, which was presented soon after the company had been acquired by Clarins.

The show closed with a dress that has been described as one of the most expensive couture creations ever. Two years in the making, it required the assistance of both the artist Jean-Jacques Urcun and the corsetiere Mr. Pearl. It was presented on the runway by the model Adriana Karembeu, who wore cat-eye contact lenses that heightened the fantastical element of the piece. In retrospect, all of the women as machines, insects, and religious icons that Mugler had put on his catwalks laid the groundwork for this hybrid creature that seemed adapted to all elements: air, water, earth, and fire.

There was another beastie in the collection, a tiger-snake amalgam that took the form of a tattoo-like print. The rest of the collection was tamer and filled with characters that, at that point in Mugler’s career, had reached the level of caricature or cartoon—though his craftsmanship and constructions remained the real deal.

The first exits, featuring hourglass suits, confirmed that Mugler’s lady remained a vamp. Next up were anatomical latex torsos and a single sci-fi ensemble. Later things took a turn toward the hairy (faux fur) and wild (animal prints). One model even donned antlers. Debra Shaw was cast as a draped Dracula, while Simonetta Gianfelici was a crystal-embellished princess bride. And this is far from an exhaustive list.

Mugler had celebrated his 20th anniversary in 1995 with the Le Cirque collection. Two years later his exercises in camp and construction had progressed in a freer, even more uninhibited direction closer to that of a carnival.

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