PARIS, France — With the exaggerated shoulders of Thierry Mugler and Claude Montana influencing radical young designers in Paris (see Vetements and Jacquemus) it was telling that they were absent on the Mugler catwalk today. Considering that the audience looked very Avenue Montaigne, what would the reaction have been? It seems safe to say it wouldn’t have been a thumbs up.
David Koma's Mugler is a straight-forward affair. There’s nothing complicated about the clothes, and little that challenges the eye. The starting point for choosing the theme of a savannah sunset, the designer revealed, was equally unfussy and direct: “I was working on the collection and it was raining a lot,” Koma said backstage after the show. And so his mind wandered to Africa and the savannah, picking up leopard patterns, crocodile corsets and metallic collars inspired by Maasai craft. When asked whether he considered the risk of leveraging a melange of African references, he said it was all about following your instinct. “If you think too much, it doesn’t work,” Koma added.
But then again, whatever the references, Koma reworked them into something different. The leopard came as chain embroidery, while the topstitching that was used as white detailing on the black leather only evoked Zulu shield decorations for those looking for the reference.
There has always been a directness to Koma’s designs – something that was evident even in his graduate collection from Central Saint Martins. It’s a kind of Instagram-ready quality that comes from his skill with geometric shapes (he was in fact doing this before Olivier Rousteing developed a similar effect at Balmain).
The result is that you can’t pretend not to know who the Mugler woman is. She’s not very complicated, at least not in her choice of clothes, which is to say that she likes the immediate impact that comes from having a great body and a sexy dress. And if the Thierry Mugler of the 1980s is now an influence for radical upstarts, the current Mugler is more of a “let’s give people what they want” kind of label. Which is fine and sellable, but doesn’t warrant too much thinking either.