Exhibition Review | Thierry Mugler: Couturissime (MMFA)

Exhibition Review

Everything about this exhibition was so dramatic, exaggerated and fictitious. Since it was the first time most of the garments were shown, this event should have attracted visitors and tourists from all around the world. It presented around 150 of Thierry Mugler’s designed outfits from 1977 to 2014. They were organized in six rooms/acts, each with a unique and cohesive design theme immersing the viewer into the surreal worlds. The act number was nicely carved into each room’s entry wall. The large bodies of information around the entrance of each room were easily recognizable. However, the detailed information of the pieces were less inviting to read. It was quite smooth to navigate the space and walk around the pieces and eventually find your way to the next room and there was a clear narrative line to follow. Right from the beginning, you were surprised with the theatrical atmosphere of the first act which visualizes the Lady Macbeath in a holographic format staged at the end of the room. The impressive soundscape added another layer to this visceral start. Richness of the audio visual media coupled with effective lighting were stimulating along the way. Photographic and video contents were strongly contextualizing the mannequins and animating them, some of which were already spinning around.

Exhibition Review

The act five and six were completely extraordinary both in terms of formal design strategy and the displayed contents. Two-minute video loops projected onto the walls in act five were almost affording a fully interactive experience; they created a fluid/natural setting to the garments with the theme of insect and animal. La Chimère’s colorful bird-like dress in this room served as a branding icon of the exhibition. The use of fully polished material including the mirror walls in the room seven was in perfect harmony with the futuristic theme of the collected costumes. Ending the acts with the shopping room was also a clever branding/marketing strategy which encouraged the visitors to leave the journey with a souvenir reminiscent of the experience.

As for the content, I could not analyze it with a professional lens since I have not been into the field of fashion design and did not know much about Mugler prior to this exhibition. But after reading more about him, I realized that there is an obvious trace of his multidisciplinary educational and professional career throughout the exhibition, both in the content and the form; which has been a combination of dance, theatre, photography, interior design, advertising and filmmaking and of course the costume design. Attention to the details, materials and colors and strong sculptural silhouette of each piece were the most dominant features I could observe in the pieces. I would use the words fantastical, dramatic, fetish and humor to summarize the essence of his designs. As opposed to the Decorative Arts and Design Section which privileges the objects over their designers and users, the dominance in the Mugler’s exhibition was given to the author and the celebrities who used his products. The presence of his sketches all across the exhibition and particularly along with his biographical timeline (room 3-4) makes him the main identity of this exhibition.

Exhibition Review

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