In layman's terms, Formichetti's seasonal task is to reinvent the wheel. It isn't easy.
Giant of shoulder, tiny of waist, attenuated of limb and bombastic of pretty much everything else, the Mugler woman is a genetic strain unto herself. Nicola Formichetti's job is to splice her silhouette with something new each and every season, creating an off-the-moment crossbreed. It can never stray too far from the trademark curves of the Queen Bee, but these offspring have to have enough of the new to excite a fickle fashion crowd. In layman's terms, Formichetti's seasonal task is to reinvent the wheel. It isn't easy.
After spring's sand-toned softness, we were hard again for Autumn/Winter 2012. I almost typed 2912 then, and that's the feeling a good Mugler show always gives you - something new, never before seen, although with the anchor of the house silhouette to keep it from getting too space-age. This season, Formichetti and womenswear designer Sebastien Peigne delved back into the archives like never before, alighting on Mugler's haute couture debut, 1997's 'Les Insectes' and combining it with the idea of the Samurai. Mugler's shoulders could come straight from one of Kurosawa's warriors, after all - it's not a great leap from pad to pagoda.
Those two stories informed every silhouette, which were variations on the peplumed and padded Mugler archetypes. As those emphasised hips have been (literally) popping out everywhere, Mugler's looked superb. It's part of Formichetti's role both inside and outside la mason to be plugged into what the rest of the fashion world is doing, and this was the perfect moment to return to them. Rather than stiffly balling over the thighs, they undulated seductively, caving between the legs on white skirt suits and creamy cashmere coats. Combined with a broad (rather than high) rounded shoulder and a narrow waist, there was the feeling of an insect's thorax, emphasised with striations of black and white. Alongside flashes of poisonous orange, that was the Mugler palette. Striking.
Power is the Mugler signature, and hence it was gratifying that despite the chopine-high platforms, it didn't feel like Formichetti and Peigne tripped out a few dozen hobbled concubines in this obi ode. It also felt like they moved the Mugler silhouette away from an overt reliance on hanger-tugged eighties shoulders, even if by and large it was into the nineties, where Mugler's more theatrical bent took flight, hyping his perfume business into overdrive until the need for the front page superseded the need to sell clothing.
That's the difference today - Mugler sells. Women want to buy into this hyped-up vision of macho-femininity - couple that with the luxury of a cashmere shoulder stepped into an arctic fox sleeve, or a bubbly sequin jacket appliqued with thousands of swaying ostrich fronds like some fantastical animal hide, and you have a thoroughly seductive and refreshingly single-minded vision of how to dress in the twenty-first century. Mugler has always been single-minded in its propositions: that's what built the label into a veritable cult back in the eighties. Seems like we have a second coming on our hands.