The Mugler warrior woman took to the sea this season with an aquatic-inspired collection for Spring 2017. Led by creative director David Koma, it was a strong showing of body-conscious silhouettes molded into amplified wetsuits with luxe zipper hardware, layered sequins that resembled fish scales, and sexy cutouts that drove the athletic point home. Embodying the warrior spirt, Karlie Kloss made an appearance on the runway in a sleek noir look along with show closer Gigi Hadid, Sara Sampaio, Imaan Hammam, Vanessa Moody, Romee Strijd, Katlin Aas and many more. We spoke backstage with the designer about when he first connected with Mugler, the inspiration behind this season, and bridging the gap between his design aesthetic and the storied house he presides over.
You decided to be a fashion designer very early in your life?
Yes, I started to draw and be interested in art when I was around 8 years old. I didn’t know I wanted to be a fashion designer then but I was drawing girls and dressing them when I was 8. I don’t have any designers or artists in my family, my father used to be a professional soccer player with a degree in economics, and my mother was a gymnast and then a geologist, but somehow I was really drawn to it. It’s good that they supported me and when I was 13 I already did my first collection. There was a designer competition for students that I applied to at that age and of course I didn’t win anything but I participated in every competition I could find, and that’s how it started.
Was Mugler already an early inspiration then?
Yes actually, because I used to live in St. Petersburg at the time and we don’t have that much amazing fashion libraries, but I remember Mugler was my first big love. I watched a documentary about Thierry Mugler where they used to show a retrospective of all of his collections, recorded it, and it was the first big designer that I was blown away by. I could really see the progression with every single collection.
Jumping to the present, what is your vision of a Mugler woman?
In my work, as a starting point I always focus on the female body. I studied anatomy so that has always been my main source of inspiration. I really love the idea of healthy, athletic looking body, so whatever I do has that aesthetic, very athletic, with a strong and powerful energy, so that’s how I see this new Mugler.
And it fits quite well with Mugler’s brand DNA.
Yes because I knew and loved the house before. When I started as a creative director working here, I thought I would just go with the flow, trust my own instincts, try not to overthink and just enjoy it. At the beginning, it was a bit difficult because of course everyone was new and we were building a team. But now I enjoy it more than ever! Everyone is super young with a lot positivity and it is a quite cool environment to work in, in Paris, in this incredible house, with a wild heritage. I love creating pieces, combining the strong character and confidence within a woman, and making it come alive. I never liked to design anything that could cross the line, and make girl look uncomfortable or weird. It’s really about merging design, physics and character, and whenever it happens it’s beautiful, because the pieces come alive, girls feel and look stronger.
Your runway casting is usually a great mix of new faces and top models, with a good balance of diversity, what is your approach to casting? What do you look for in a model?
We are working a lot on getting the right message across because there are so many amazing models and you cannot have them all at the same time in the show. It’s good to work with newer girls, it gives sometimes a fresh breath. Then you have amazing strong girls, that look different next to the younger generation, and I love that mix but when it makes sense. It’s not easy like that, but when it all comes together it’s beautiful, and I think this season it’s going to be a beautiful beautiful casting. It’s a new casting team with Noah Shelley, and although we never worked together before, when you bond and you understand each other it’s a pure joy.
Do you follow girls outside of show seasons, or do you have favorite models?
Actually there are so many girls, it’s very difficult to pick the favorites. I remember I was quite blown away when I met Karlie (Kloss) the first time, just her character, her attitude, was really memorable. Yasmin is another one that is quite incredible, but there are so many amazing girls.
What is the inspiration for this season?
It’s usually difficult to talk about before the show, because I always like to have a complete vision of it, but the starting point was underwater creatures, and this fascination with sharks that I have. Then we looked at a lot of diving suits, life-guarding forms, very aquatic, but more about the feeling and athletic side of it.
How do you manage going between the different collections and locations for your own line and Mugler?
I think I am lucky that it’s between London and Paris, because London and NY would have been tough, so traveling is easy. And again, it’s really about the teams, I have a beautiful team in London and a beautiful team in Paris. At the beginning it was a bit difficult, but I really like coming to Paris and after taking the 5:30 Eurostar I am in a different world.
What future direction do you envision taking Mugler into?
I love this idea of taking it step by step, last year we launched an accessories line with handbags. We’re officially opening a store and hopefully there’s many more to come. With the store, I envision together accessories, clothes and perfumes – a total Mugler universe.