September 26, 2012 Paris
The brand's creative director, Nicola Formichetti, and womenswear designer Sébastien Peigné seem to have relaxed into their roles. At the same time, part of the charm of Mugler—and what has given it such a big online following—has been the readiness of Formichetti to embrace a wide and disparate electronic audience in a democratic fashion. Without a word of a lie, this reviewer once saw a monk—not some club kid pretending to be one—milling around outside the venue at the end of a Mugler show. That's the kind of reach Formichetti has, and the odd devotion he inspires.
Today it was the turn of the actual clothing to fall into line with that ease of democracy and wide appeal. The inherited codes and motifs of Thierry Mugler's designs are not the easiest to deal with—especially when the design team had previously been dealing with licensees to try and produce some of the more complicated pieces. This season Peigné has injected an easiness into the designs that still maintains their graphic lines (which appear particularly relevant for this season's interest in graphic style) with a soft, sculptural, human dimension. With its mix of Pop Americana and French Japonisme, there is almost a Claes Oldenburg take on Far Eastern lacquerwork. Take the soft, calf-leather kimono-style tops with the short, origami-folded leather skirts; they are perhaps the most approachable, sensual, and desirable pieces that Peigné has produced for the house. And they are separates, as much of the collection is—a big change from the usual dominance of dominant dresses. Handbags have even been introduced into the collection, one of which can be found carried by Formichetti himself—customized with panda drawings, of course. "I never thought I'd make handbags!" he said after the show. "But it was something I really got into. I started reading all of these handbag blogs, and really saw what they meant to people." There's that democracy again—with just a bit of grown-up savvy.