Mugler’s official Instagram page confirmed his passing Sunday night.
‘#RIP We are devastated to announce the passing of Mr Manfred Thierry Mugler on Sunday January 23rd 2022,’ the post read. ‘May his soul Rest In Peace.’
His agent confirmed the designer had died of ‘natural causes’, adding he had been due to announce new collaborations early this week.
Mugler, who launched his eponymous fashion brand in the 1970s, suffered multiple serious injuries in recent years including a car crash and gym accident that required plastic surgery and left him almost unrecognizable.
Tributes have poured in from friends and colleagues including model Bella Hadid, Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes and singer Diana Ross.
Born Manfred Thierry Mugler on December 21, 1948 in Strasbourg, France, the designer initially studied and performed ballet but found more success with his fashion designs.
He created his own clothes from a young age, adapting items bought at nearby flea markets, before moving to Paris to become a freelance stylist.
In 1973, he took the plunge and created his own label Café de Paris, before founding Thierry Mugler a year later. His designs celebrated women’s forms: accentuating shoulders by padding, plunging necklines, constricted waists and rounded hips.
He had showmanship in his blood: for the 10th anniversary of his label in 1984, he organised the first public fashion show in Europe with 6,000 attending the rock concert-like show.
Mugler was also a pioneer and advocate for trans models with Connie Fleming and Teri Toye walking his shows in the nineties.
Despite seemingly retiring from fashion’s frontlines in the early 2000s, Mugler continued to impact culture and worked with Beyonce on her ‘I am…’ world tour.
Iconic French fashion designer Thierry Mugler, whose designs were warn by entertainment royalty from Kim Kardashian to Lady Gaga to Beyonce, is dead at the age of 73
Mugler’s official Instagram page confirmed his passing Sunday night. ‘#RIP We are devastated to announce the passing of Mr Manfred Thierry Mugler on Sunday January 23rd 2022,’ the post read. ‘May his soul Rest In Peace.’
Mugler (center) and members of Deee-Lite attend a fashion week party in the 1980s
Mugler, seen at the dress rehearsal of his show ‘The Wyld – Not of this world’ in October 2014
Mugler, seen here in Paris in July of 1992 at a fashion show
Thierry Mugler (right) and Jean Paul Gaultier attend a fashion week Party at Les Bains Douches in the 1990s in Paris
He never truly put down his tape measure and fabrics – having come out of retirement in 2019 to dress Kardashian for the Met Gala, he was said to be working on new collaborations at the time of his death.
‘He envisioned me as this California girl stepping out of the ocean, wet, dripping,’ Kardashian said at the time.
‘Today’s fashion shows are a continuation of what Mugler invented. The collections were pretexts for fashion shows,’ said Didier Grumbach, former CEO of Thierry Mugler.
Other famous names dressed by the Frenchman include everyone from icons like David Bowie, George Michael, Cindy Crawford and Sharon Stone to modern stars like Cardi B, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Bella Hadid.
His impact continued even in the week prior to his death, as Twitter obsessed over Alexa Demie’s character Maddie seen trying on one of Mugler’s dresses in an episode that aired on January 16.
After his retirement, Mugler worked as an artistic adviser to Beyonce, including in designing the costumes for her ‘I Am…’ world tour in support of the album that unveiled the character of Sasha Fierce.
Mugler was also famous for his line of perfumes, which are sold to this day. His most recent fragrance, Angel Nova, was released in June 2020.
He made his name largely in the 1980s and early 90s, with his designs used everywhere from the runway to stage shows and even music videos such as George Michael’s 1992 hit ‘Too Funky.’
Kim Kardashian West wore Mugler as recently as the 2019 Met Gala
Kardashian, seen here with Mugler at the opening of an exhibition in Montreal, was part of a revival of his designs in 2019
Thierry Mugler and Georges Bedran attend the Manfred Thierry Mugler Photographe exhibition at Polka Factory in 2019
The designer also helped pave the way for transgender models, as Mugler used them in his stage shows as far back as 1984.
An inspirational designer for many, he was a complicated character and was described as a ‘notoriously difficult designer and utterly bizarre character’ in a 2010 New York Times profile.
The piece also discussed Mugler’s drastic change in appearance after he got extensive plastic surgery and got into bodybuilding.
‘I had a facial reconstruction following a serious gym accident that completely knocked my face down,’ he told News in 24 in 2007. ‘There came a time when I said to myself: let’s put things back in order, to go further and higher.’
He kept going with plastic surgery, especially after crashing a jeep in 2019, which destroyed his nose.
Mugler even took a piece of bone from his hip and implanted it in his chin, preferring it to silicone.
‘I wanted my face to represent progress, because after years of being a thin, charming dancer, I wanted to be a warrior,’ he said. ‘I’ve done so much in my life. I’ve fought so much. I’m a superhero, so it’s normal to have the face of one.’
The New York Times said Mugler, who began going as ‘Manfred’ again in the 2010s, ‘transformed his body with an extreme regimen of diet, exercise and what is apparently plastic surgery into the 240-pound spectacle of muscle and nipple and tattoo.’
The Strasbourg-born designer trained as a classical dancer from age 9, and became part of the ballet corps at 14.
In an interview, he described a very lonely adolescence due in part to his sexuality.
Mugler’s official Instagram page confirmed his passing Sunday night. He’s seen here at a 2014 dress rehearsal
Mugler, seen here at one of his earliest shows in 1979 in Paris
A star-studded tribute to Mugler featuring celebrities like Daryl Hannah (left) was held in Los Angeles in 1992
‘I know what being alone is – really deeply,’ he told Vogue in 2019. ‘I had a difficult childhood and I was very alone for years and years. I was watching the stars because for me this was a new reality. There was something there, new, different more beautiful.
He said that dance and theater and eventually fashion gave him purpose in life.
‘When I started dancing, it was an opener; it was an incredible, fantastic help because it was a magical stage,’ he added. ‘The theatre was made for me. But after the beauty of the light, the red curtain and applause – everyone had someone to wait for them backstage, but me? Never. I had years and years when I was alone.’
His first perfume, Angel, released in 1992 and was said to be preferred by Hillary Clinton and Barbara Walters.
According to Vulture, Mugler ‘was best known for his sculptural use of tailoring. He became famous internationally for his broad-shouldered, 40’s-inspired women’s suits and highly themed fashion shows.’
He retired from fashion in 2002 before his brand was set to be shut down, but remained an influence on fashion for the next two decades.
Thierry Mugler and Diana Ross at a show in 1991
Mugler launched his first fashion collection, ‘Café de Paris,’ in 1973.
One of his most famous gowns was Demi Moore’s iconic dress from the film Indecent Proposal.
He also published multiple books – his first photography book ‘Thierry Mugler: Photographer’ in 1988, and ‘Fashion Fetish Fantasy,’ a collection of photos of his creations, in 1998.
Outside of his photography, Mugler was also known to enjoy bodybuilding which caused a stir when he began to present with a new look in the 2010s.
Grace Jones was among Mugler’s early muses.
Eventually, he began a long collaboration with legendary rock star and fashion icon David Bowie.
Mugler dressed Bowie for his wedding to Iman in 1992.
One of Mugler’s most famous creations is this dress, worn by Demi Moore in the 1993 film Indecent Proposal
A famously passionate designer, Mugler occasionally had drama with other designers. He was critical of a 2019 Dior show that used a song by Deee-Lite, a band that had recorded music specifically for a Mugler show in the 1990s.
‘I guess it is an homage or maybe musical chairs?’ he wrote on Instagram, followed by a thinking emoji. Mugler also tagged Dior, Kim Jones, and Honey Dijon in the post.
He also had a troubled relationship with Clarins, who put out his line of fragrances and more or less owned the rights to his name from 1997 onwards. He sued them over a retrospective they published.
In September 2010, his brand was renamed simply Mugler and is now run by American designer Casey Cadwallader.
‘Manfred, I am so honored to have known you and to work within your beautiful world,’ Cadwallader said in an Instagram post paying tribute to Mugler, referencing Mugler’s given first name. ‘You changed our perception of beauty, of confidence, of representation and self empowerment. Your legacy is something I carry with me in everything I do. Thank you.’
Mugler, who was very private about his age, did not appear to have married or have children at the time of his death.
Mugler dressed George Michael (pictured right) during the pop star’s 1992 music video for ‘Too Funky’
The ‘Too Funky’ video also featured model Linda Evangelista, a frequent collaborator with Mugler