What is Thierry Mugler renowned for? Suck-in jut-out tailoring with a touch of the sci-fi, dresses you can't sit down in, corsets you can't breathe in. Yes, yes, yes. But what Mugler is really known for is putting on one hell of a show. In that respect, he's found his natural successor in Nicola Formichetti, creative head honcho of the house that bears still his surname. At least, judging by today's romping, platform-stomping success of a show.
The theme, at best, was rather obscure. As were many of the clothes - Formichetti erected a bizarre chapel, plunged the venue into darkness, and sent out his frenzied models in half-dozens to roam around the gloom. Add teetering platforms to restrictive tailoring and near-zero peripheral vision, and we had a few tumbles. But the collection itself didn't stumble.
Formichetti stuck to Mugler's trademark silhouette - giant shoulders, microscopic waist and an elongated body. 'Anatomy of Change' was the title: fitting as there was always something superhuman about the Mugler woman. That of course is right up Formichetti's street, so he enlisted various artisans to help 'fashion' a new body for his Mugler vixen. Rein Vollenga created 'wearable sculpture' which protruded through clever semi-transparent layers of bodystocking to pump out the silhouette, Atsuko Kudo shredded latex to look like semi-shed second skins, while Nasir Mazhar and Franc Fernandez were credited with the millinery. That's Formichetti's skill - he's a stylist after all, hence those show notes read like magazine credits, illustrating his talent in pulling in the right collaborators to help him achieve the look.
And achieve it he did - the Mugler woman erupted onto the catwalk, her body beautifully deformed in expected and not-so-expected places (if you're looking for a forearm pad or a terribly fashionable hunchback, Mugler's your go-to label). But forget the prosthetics - forget even Lady Gaga whiplashing around like a hurricane in fourteen-inch heels. Actually, no-one could ever forget that, but try to put her to one side for a minute. The clothes had something wonderful about them too, long skinny skirts, architectonic shoulders, and a genuinely wicked way with corsetry which will no doubt crop up in many an editorial shoot next season.
For this first grand brand outing, however, the show had to come first. And Formichetti pulled out all the stops. The first comparison that came to mind was Alexander McQueen's debut ready-to-wear show for Givenchy, with models in ledge-shouldered tailoring and tight dresses that paid a debt themselves to Monsieur Mugler vamping it up around a disused meat-market. When a show slaps you in the face with that kind of legendary energy, impact and raw power, you're more than happy to look at the clothes in a showroom.