Thierry Mugler: Couturissime – Kunsthal

“I have always had a fascination with the most beautiful animal on earth: humans. To glorify this being, I use all the means at my disposal: fashion, shows, perfumes, photography, video… I am not one to dwell on the past, but the MMFA was the first to propose that to stage my creations and to imagine together a free, global and renewed artistic vision. How could I refuse it?” according to its creator Manfred Thierry Mugler.

Spectacular and immersive

The exhibition ‘Thierry Mugler: Couturissime’ brings together more than 150 outfits from the period between 1977 and 2014, most of which are exhibited for the first time. In addition, many never-before-seen accessories and stage costumes, clips and videos, archival documents and sketches are on display. One hundred works by the greatest contemporary fashion photographers, such as Guy Bourdin, Goude, David LaChapelle, Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts and Dominique Issermann, complement the exhibition. Many of the interactive frames in the rooms were designed by artists such as Michel Lemieux and Philipp Fürhofer and the special effects studio Rodeo FX. London-based designer Tord Boontje has also designed chandeliers with Swarovski crystals for one of the rooms. The mannequins are made especially for the exhibition by Hans Boodt Mannequins, Rotterdam.

Unique fantasy

Thierry Mugler: Couturissime follows the career of this unique creative mind who revolutionized fashion with his morphological and futuristic style and glamorous and elegant silhouettes: clean lines, superheroine shoulders and folded waists to dress a sublime, sensual and powerful woman who undergoes constant metamorphosis . The exhibition gives visitors the opportunity to delve into Mugler’s unique imagination, where perfectionism, Hollywood-like prestige, dreams, exotic creatures, eroticism and science fiction alternate. Bold choices, for example the use in haute couture of innovative materials such as metal, faux fur, vinyl and latex, are also explained in more detail.

Emily Ansenk, former director of Kunsthal, explains: “We are proud that next autumn we will be able to show a striking fashion icon to the Dutch audience with this exhibition. With a tradition of presenting major fashion exhibitions in the Netherlands – on Jean Paul Gaultier, Peter Lindbergh and Viktor & Rolf – we are thrilled to be able to show the special retrospective of Thierry Mugler in Europe for the first time. We look forward to working with Nathalie Bondil, Thierry-Maxime Loriot and all partners involved again.”

About Thierry Mugler

Throughout his career, Thierry Mugler has worked closely with filmmakers, architects – such as Andrée Putman for his stores – and renowned photographers and artists such as Helmut Newton, Dominique Issermann, Guy Bourdin, Herb Ritts, David LaChapelle and Pierre & Gilles. Works by many of them can be seen at the exhibition. The Helmut Newton Foundation participates as a lender for ‘Thierry Mugler: Couturissime’ for the first time since its foundation in 2013 in an exhibition by a foreign museum.

As a photographer and filmmaker, Mugler directed British singer George Michael’s iconic music video ‘Too Funky’ in 1990, as well as a series of short films with actresses Isabelle Huppert and Juliette Binoche. Thierry Mugler is also responsible for some of the most spectacular fashion shows of his time. He designed the costumes for a performance of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ by the Comédie-Française and the Festival d’Avignon and for the show ‘Zumanity’ by Cirque du Soleil. He also dresses a wide range of stars, such as Diana Ross, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Liza Minnelli, Diane Dufresne and Céline Dion. He also designs costumes for Mylène Farmer and Beyoncé’s tours and videos.

Thierry-Maxime Loriot, curator of the exhibition, adds: “Thierry Mugler’s work is as distinctive as it is avant-garde. It has an architectural, hyper-feminine style that elevates the curves of the femme fatale. The manufacturer knows how to differentiate itself through constant innovation. His bold silhouettes define an era and have carved a place in fashion history. The idiosyncratic style, a kind of futuristic version of the New Look, with a touch of fantasy and fetishism, still has a great influence on the current generation of couturiers.”


The first comprehensive and richly illustrated monograph on Thierry Mugler, edited by Thierry-Maxime Loriot, is published by the publishing department of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Phaidon publishing house. The book provides an insight into the world of this creative mind and contains previously unpublished and relatively unknown material. Two chapters are devoted to Mugler’s collaboration with two photographers in particular: the German Helmut Newton (1920-2004) and the French Guy Bourdin (1928-1991). In addition to photographs by Mugler himself, the book also collects work by a number of other big names in photography, such as Richard Avedon, Lillian Bassman, Jean-Paul Goude, Dominique Issermann, David LaChapelle, Luigi & Iango, Alix Malka, Steven Meisel, Mert & Marcus, Sarah Moon, Pierre & Gilles, Paolo Roversi, Herb Ritts, Francesco Scavullo, Ellen von Unwerth and Bruce Weber. For the first time, numerous sketches and unpublished documents, as well as Polaroids and other backstage images from fashion shows, are shown. The book was designed by the Montreal-based company Paprika.

Manfred Thierry Mugler © Max Abadian

Curatorial credits

The exhibition is curated by curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot under the direction of Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
The original exhibition design and adaptations are by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts under the direction of Sandra Gagné, Head of Exhibitions Production. The international tour has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Hans Boodt Mannequins, Christie and Tourisme Montréal.


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