Forget Tinker, Soldier, Spy. The hero of Fall 2012 is the Tailor. Milan's shows suggested that this would be the season of the suit, and the first show in Paris seemed to confirm it. That it was as unlikely a candidate for suiting separates as you're like to find only strengthened the point. Creative director Nicola Formichetti and designer Romain Kremer may have taken their runway bows in baseball jackets, but their Mugler collection emphasized tailoring more than any they've created yet.
Backstage, Formichetti explained that he'd been looking at the uniforms of marines, even visiting a base to see them firsthand. That uniforms like these are the roots of men's formal uniforms—the suit, the tux—wasn't lost on him. Neither was the fact that both emphasize theatricality and artifice. T&A, of course, are Formichetti's stock in trade.
These weren't your father's suits. They had more in common with the armorlike, body-transforming outfits of superheroes, a particular fascination of the house's namesake. But if the shapes were borrowed from those outside of civilization—who is lonelier than the superhero, unable to mingle among his fellow men?—the materials were taken, in large part, from the idiom of high civility. Formichetti cut jackets from satin, whole suits from jacquard. They played off against the synthetic materials Mugler has employed for seasons: plasticized and rubberized cotton, wool, and neoprene.
That interplay made for an interesting dissonance, and the more outré pieces (the glam glitter suits, the rubberized capes) suggested suiting that wouldn't be out of place at a club. "A modern-day man can wear it to the office, then into the street," Formichetti said. The quest to hit that middle ground may explain why some of this collection felt flat. Weird is wonderful in Mugler, and this was a bit light on it.