The Thierry Mugler retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs during Paris Fashion Week opened with a bang befitting the famous couturier. Cardi B made an appearance, and designers Riccardo Tisci, Haider Ackermann, and Christian Louboutin came out to fête the man whose powerful 1990s spectacles were populated by supermodels in out-of-this-world creations.
In the mix was Casey Cadwallader. The young American has reignited the Mugler flame since his arrival at the label in 2018 by adapting the label’s curvy, body-con aesthetic for the athleisure generation. Where Mugler’s corsets were rigid—his iconic 1992 motorcycle-chassis corset was made from plastic, metal, and Plexiglas—Cadwallader’s are built with two-way stretch. “You can tie your shoes, sit in a taxi, you can breathe,” he said.
Material innovation and an embrace of extremes are essential to Mugler’s current success. There’s a pair of ass-less pants in the new lineup, but Cadwallader indicated that he might not have designed them if customers weren’t already wearing the part-sheer, part-opaque (read: mostly sheer) tights he’s been making for the last couple of seasons “without clothing.”
The news at Mugler this time around is how he’s evolving his hyper-sexy vibe. In previous collections he’s leaned on black, but here he played with stretchy knit color-block layers to great effect, mixing emerald, ultramarine, bordeaux, and bright orange in one look and highlighter yellow, navy, and orange in another. His other experiment was born from a vintage Mugler bauble with a spray of flexible gold snake chains that he found at a flea market. “I loved how the chains moved,” he said. “I was looking for movement this season.” He sourced modern versions of the chains and made body jewelry from them. Bella Hadid models an intricate necklace top with a bodysuit in the brand’s new video, though Cadwallader’s fans are just as likely to wear it solo.