"Couture by Thierry Mugler is both art and science. His cuts captivate while creating a stir. His silhouettes are distinct and instantly recognisable: anatomical, graphic, ultra-feminine and meticulous. The materials go hand in hand with movement, and peaks of fabric create new lines of strength to best showcase women, beautify them, mould to their bodies and reshape them as they desire. Close-fitting suits, rhinestone sheath dresses, structured bustiers, extravagant dresses and whimsical pieces each reveal conquering icons, extravagant divas, glamorous fairy-like stars and victorious sun goddesses. Contemporary heroines who summon dreams, fantasy, metamorphosis, conquest, the future and the extraordinary at fashion shows - events that are larger than life yet perfected to the detail. With clothes on her mind, the Mugler woman makes her presence known. "
Fall/Winter 1995/96 "Le Cirque" Part 1
Violeta Sanchez wears a black marabou bolero over a grain de poudre corset embroidered with jet beads, with long sleeves in black vinyl, patent leather high heels with straps, and 'fly' sunglasses with black velvet and horsehair antennae. 'Les Insectes' Couture Collection, S/S 1997.
Dianne Brill wears a black flannel pinstripe suit with a white satin blouse and black satin tie. 'Les 20 and au Cirque d'Hiver' Prêt-à-Porter Collection, A/W 1995-96.
Violeta Sanchez wears a black crêpe sheath with rear cleavage effect with pearl necklaces, a skirt in taupe satin, a matching reversible stole, black velvet full-length gloves and built-up shoes in troupe satin. 'Les 20 and au Cirque d'Hiver' Prêt-à-Porter Collection, A/W 1995-6.
"Alexander McQueen was a British fashion designer. Born in London in 1969, the youngest of six children, he left school at sixteen and went straight into an apprenticeship at the traditional Savile Row tailors Anderson and Sheppard. He then gained further experience at neighbouring tailors Gieves and Hawkes. From there McQueen moved to the theatrical costumiers Angels and Bermans where he mastered six methods of pattern cutting, from the melodramatic sixteenth century to the brutally sharp tailoring that became a McQueen signature. Aged twenty McQueen was employed by the designer Koji Tatsuno, who also had roots in British tailoring, and a year later he travelled to Milan to be Romeo Gigili's design assistant. He finally returned to London in 1994 where he completed the MA Fashion course at Central Saint Martins College of Art. His degree collection was famously bought in its entirety by the fashion director and tastemaker Isabella Blow. McQueen was dubbed an 'enfant terrible' by the international fashion press and became one of the youngest designers to achieve the title of 'British Designer of the Year' in 1996, 1997 and again in 2001."
Love Looks Not with the Eyes: Thirteen Years with Lee Alexander McQueen by Anne Deniau.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty by MMoA.
Alexander McQueen: Working Process by Nick Waplington.
"I want to be the purveyor of a certain silhouette or a way of cutting, so that when I'm dead and gone, people will know that the twenty-first century was started by Alexander McQueen"
"Rei Kawakubo is the creative director of Comme des Garçons, which she has grown into a business turning over $220 million a year. She never trained to be a fashion designer; instead she studied art and literature at Keio University. Perhaps as a result of this, Kawakubo has always followed the beat of her own drum, both commercially and creatively. Dubbed “anti-fashion” and “Hiroshima Chic” by easily shocked and insensitive journalists, Kawakubo’s first show made ripples across the fashion industry. The Japanese designer entered the industry when she took a job at a textiles factory; in 1967 the designer became freelance stylist. Two years later she began making clothes under the label Comme Des Garçons. The designer incorporated the label in 1973, a direct result of its popularity with Japanese consumers. For the remainder of the decade Kawakubo would refine her aesthetic and build her company, opening a Tokyo boutique in 1975 and adding a menswear line, Homme Comme des Garçons, in 1978. By the time of her Paris debut in 1981 Kawakubo was so famous that her followers and fans were dubbed ‘the crows’ in the Japanese press. The designer told The New Yorker in 2005 that she “never intended to start a revolution” She intended only to show “what I thought was strong and beautiful. It just so happened that my notion was different from everybody else’s.” "
Above: Comme des Garçons Fall 2012/13.
Below: Comme des Garçons SS 2015.
JEAN PAUL GAULTIER
I was fortunate to see the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Barbican and seeing pieces I had drawn and studies in real life was so beneficial to my work as I could see construction and scale clearly. Initially I wanted to look at JPG's use of corsetry but looking through my photos I found that, particularly in the Punk section, he has done quite a lot of interesting jackets so I have included them in the information file.
VICTOR & ROLF
"Viktor Horsting & Rolf Snoeren are fashion designers who have worked together as Viktor and Rolf since 1993. Renowned for the cut and proportion of their designs they turn recognisable, classic forms such as oversized shirt collars, sleeves and jackets into unfamiliar features. Both born in 1969 in the Netherlands, they teamed up the year after they graduated from the fashion department of the Academy of the Arts, Arhem. In 1996 they flyposted the streets of Paris to announce their own strike, a personal rebellion against the pressure to create a new collection every six months. They turned instead to Haute Couture, which they designed for five seasons. Feted for their extravagant construction and unconventional appearance, the Couture garments were very highly acclaimed which enabled them to return to ready to wear. Viktor & Rolf devise spectacular presentations for their collections. Conceived before the design process begins, they have presented moving images projected onto the bodies of static models, and sent tap-dancing models down the catwalk. They recently designed a menswear collection and released their first fragrance 'Flowerbomb' at boutique Colette in Paris, 2005, and recent high profile campaigns have brought the maverick duo's high art fashion to a higher level of commercial prominence worldwide.'"
The photos from a book are from Woman by Vivienne Westwood, Christian Dior Couture, Maison Martin Margiela, Junya Watanabe, Ann Demeulemeester, Veronique Leroy, Bernhard Wilhelm, Viktor & Rolf, Hussein Chalayan discussing what makes a woman and the designer's inspiration.
Above and Below: Spring 2011 - Ready to Wear
MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA
"Martin Margiela is a designer whose work occupies a unique position in the contemporary fashion world. The consistency of his vision has made him one of the most influential and iconoclastic designers of the last decade. Born in Limbourg, Belgium in 1959, he studied at the Royal Academy Antwerp, and was one of the first wave of talent to emerge from the city in the early 1980s (known as the 'Antwerp Six'). In 1984 he began a 3-year assistantship with Jean Paul Gaultier. He then founded his own enterprise, 'Maison Martin Margiela' in Paris in 1988 showing his first womenswear collection (Spring-Summer 1989) that year. Margiela staged his first collections in unusual locations such as an abandoned metro or a circus tent. The fashion press labelled his fashion mood 'deconstruction' - an attempt to disclose the process and craft of making clothes. Martin Margiela eschewed the cult of personality that surrounds many designers and instead fostered a 'cult of impersonality', a further deconstruction of the conventions of the fashion industry. His appointment as head designer of Hermes womenswear in 1997, a time when big name appointments were in profusion, was considered very refreshing."
The book 'Woman" by multiple designers (Vivienne Westwood, Christian Dior Couture, Maison Martin Margiela, Junya Watanabe, Ann Demeulemeester, Veronique Leroy, Bernhard Wilhelm, Viktor & Rolf, Hussein Chalayan) discusses what makes a woman and what the designers are trying to do with their clothes. It was quite interesting. Some thought that the woman made the clothes whilst others thought the clothes made the woman.
Mostly collages, the photos are from the book, questioning what makes a woman.
WOMEN FASHION POWER AT THE DESIGN MUSEUM
Above, above right, below and below right: all by Yves Saint Laurent.
In 1966 Yves Saint Laurent introduced a sleek tailored trouser suit called Le Smoking. The formal structure of the male tuxedo contrasted with the feminine blouses created a sexy, androgynous look Although radical at the time of its introduction, it would be the garment that sealed the acceptability of trousers as an alternative to the skirt, suit or dress. This was a formal, elegant suit for women. It was a great success and became a staple in many women's wardrobes during the 1970s.
Above: Black Jacket by Carven, 2012. Worn by Natalie Massenet MBE.
Above: Left- Thierry Mugler Suit, 1980s. Right- Versace Pin Stripe Suit, 1980s.
Erica Van Briel wears a tailored suit with a collarless jacket and pouched back over a straight skirt. Prêt-à-Porter Collection, S/S 1998.
THIERRY MUGLER: GALAXY GLAMOUR (2010)
"Thierry Mugler is a superhero. A fairytale prince, a tightrope walker, an acrobat, a madman, a tease, an impresario, a dancer, a director, a designer whose heart is externally focused on the future: he's a space-travelling style maker, a man of metamorphoses and optical illusions, a builder of bodies a visionary, a sculptor."
" ...Thierry Mugler has constructed the image if a fantasy female. With its structured silhouettes, wide shoulders, wasp waists and endless legs..."
Shorts suit in black grain de powder, worn with wide-brimmed hat in black velvet, seven-row pearl chocker and white taffeta carnation. 'Les Insectes' S/S 1997.
Tailored suit in beige grain de powder over a black chiffon blouse, with a wrapper jacket with nickel-plated metal fastenings, a straight skirt with a deep slit, and black net gloves. Prêt-à-Porter Collection, A/W, 1998-99.
Fall/Winter 1995/96 "Le Cirque" Part 2
Fall/Winter 1995/96 "Le Cirque" Part 3
To Lee, With Love, Nick by Nick Knight
'No one should compromise. Compromise makes people dull.'
David Bowie vs Alexander McQueen
On the 4th anniversary of his passing, we revisit a 1995 conversation between McQueen and the Thin White Duke.
McQueen and I
Alexander McQueen 'Cutting Up Rough' 1997
I decided to start my research with Thierry Mugler because I love his use of corsetry to create seductive and feminine silhouettes. This and the craftsmanship that goes into the high quality of tailoring reminded me of McQueen which was my next source of inspiration. I am also thinking of researching Jean Paul Gaultier for his use of corsets as its something I would like to learn how to do.
I think that the waist is one of or THE most important part of a woman's body. Having an hourglass figure myself, I am often swamped by clothes and I am constantly thinking "waist, waist, waist", which has lead to an obsession with waists and fitted clothing. I am nearly always wearing a belt around the waist. This has influence on my designs. Often I am designing outfits that I'd like to see on myself, showing off womanly qualities like hips, waists and bosoms. I also think shoulders are really important structurally and proportionally. I have wide/ sloping shoulders so I am always aware about what I put on them. I love to see structured and heightened shoulders on the blazers that Mugler and McQueen make.
Whilst an hourglass figure is aesthetically pleasing to look at, it also gives an amazing canvas to work on. I love clothing that exaggerates angles and dimensions of the body, clothes that make it obvious it is a woman but morph the silhouette.
McQueen said in his interview with David Bowie that Rei Kawakubo was his favourite designer so I decided to research her. I really like all the different textiles she uses, almost looking childlike and seamless, like a cut out.
Above and Below: S/S 2010.
Above: Vogue Italia, July 2003.
Above and Left: Deconstruction
"The materials used to make the collection are a vast range of inventive finds. garments and objects is given a second life. By respecting and maintaining the traces of the passage of time and use, they remain one of the keystones of the maison’s artistic expression. The use of white, with all its different shades, tones and texture, as universal colour and the decorative signature have also always characterized the Maison Martin Margiela. Margiela is an excellent tailor who really knows how to sew, and his clothes, although undeniably strange, are beautifully (de)constructed. Each garment is reworked entirely by hand at the Maison’s atelier in paris. Martin Margiela says that the creative approach is born from a poetic conception of imperfections - the extremes and the changes of every day life."
Above and Below: S/S 2011.
Above Left: F/W 2013.
Left: Spring 2009, Ready to Wear.
Above: Black jacket by Akris. S/S 2013. Worn by HSH Princess Charlène of Monaco.
Above: Burgundy Red Crocodile jacket by Christian Dior. Worn by Pearl Lam.
Above and above left: Vivienne Westwood.