A holograph of Lady Macbeth wringing her bloodied hands. David Bowie strutting in a green tailored suit. Helmut Newton photographs capturing the sexuality of a female body on the quivering edge of decency.
The magnificently crazy world of fashion designer Thierry Mugler offers all that – and more – in an exhibition that has pulled in more than 100,000 visitors since it opened in March at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA).
But last week in Canada, the focus was elsewhere: Toronto, where curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot received the Vanguard Arts & Fashion Awards 2019 for cultural achievement. The Canadian former male model, who has morphed into a modernist museum curator, was awarded the honour for a decade of powerful fashion exhibitions. They started with “Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk”, which was ultimately seen by two million visitors around the world as it travelled to 12 different cities, from Melbourne to Berlin and San Francisco to Seoul between 2011 and 2016.https://www.instagram.com/p/ByOJL9tHcqE/?utm_source=ig_embedUnder the MMFA’s Director General, Nathalie Bondil, Thierry-Maxime has become renowned the world over as a museum magician. His exhibition successes have also included a study of photographer Peter Lindbergh, which premiered at the Kunsthal Rotterdam in 2016 and then toured to Turin (“Peter Lindbergh: A Different Vision on Fashion Photography”); and another Kunsthal Rotterdam show on Viktor & Rolf in 2018 (“Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists 25 Years”). The Dutch design duo Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren showed their appreciation by attending the award ceremony in Toronto.
Now, Montreal has “Thierry Mugler: Couturissime”, at the MMFA until 8 September 2019. The exhibition spans forty years from 1973-2001 and is compelling in its mix of Space Age mannequins, never-before-seen visions of the original supermodels, and images contributed by a galaxy of 26 photographers, many of whom went on to become superstars, including Richard Avedon, Guy Bourdin, Sarah Moon, Paolo Roversi and Mario Testino.
“Montreal is not a city that is known for fashion, nor for these exhibitions, but it really has the tools to create grand, theatrical shows,” says Thierry-Maxime, 43. “It is like driving with Concorde behind you – you need to have a pilot and co-pilot and the crew that supports you and pushes you to create a success”.https://www.instagram.com/p/ByOPnoSHVmw/?utm_source=ig_embedManfred Thierry Mugler, as he now styles himself, is a designer who always leaned towards performance clothes and, in the new millennium, deliberately separated himself from fashion in favour of show costumes. While keeping the glamorama of fragrances such as “Angel” (from 1992) and later “Alien” with Groupe Clarins (from 2009, with a men’s version in 2018), he changed his body shape completely, making it difficult to connect him to photographs of him as a young designer who was a former ballet dancer.