'My mother was an air hostess, so for me that was always real glamour,' said Nicola Formichetti backstage in the vast airport hangar that was Mugler's AW13 show venue. And this season it seemed for the first time that he was so in control of the DNA of Mugler that he could run with it and actually fly the nest.
It began with Amelia Earhart. A soundtrack of soaring planes, and the primitive air pilot's headgear to match. In a geometricised air hostess's uniform of dove grey outsize shoulders and neat little pencil skirt she wiggled out on little clunky block heeled clogs ('air hostesses have to be comfortable you know').
Comfortable shoes were never in the lexicon of Thierry Mugler, but Formichetti is now in his second year at the brand and has found his own comfort zone, so shoulders have been softened, heels have been lowered and the dominatrix edge has been taken off the Mugler woman without being unfaithful to her original intent.
'It's about who the Mugler woman would be at this point in time,' explained Formichetti, 'and we did a lot of time travel to come to that point - we referenced a lot of different eras.'
So there were low slung hipster skirts borrowed from the 90s, sherbet orange car coats from the 50s, and silky tea dresses straight out of the 1940s.
All of it was given the Mugler architectural treatment : the orange sherbet boucle in a skirt suit puffed out dramatically at the hips, another grey suit had stiff batwing sleeves creating huge space around the waist. But despite the low orthopedic heels, the unflattering bulges of heavy fabric, the nun's wimples, there was still a strong underlying Mugler sex appeal that pervaded throughout.
'Restriction is key to this label,' said Formichetti, 'and I was looking at Hitchcock movies and wanted the girls to all to have this kid of stifled, restrained feel.' As they zig zagged across the open plan catwalk, with curious geisha gaits thanks to bindingly tight hemlines, all trussed up in their tight little air pilot hats and with stiff necks from the high funnel necklines, you got the feeling something was definitely holding them back.
And that was Formichetti's master stroke: take them on a flight to new horizons that Mugler himself might never have imagined, but make sure they're restricted just enough to know who's really in control.
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