In an interview with ‘Lounge,’ Mugler’s Creative Director Casey Cadwaladr talks about designing a limited-edition collection with the Swedish retailer and why she tries never to think about trends
Brand collaborations are notoriously tricky, especially in the field of fashion. Either they hit or they fall on their face; Not in the middle. One of the reasons they are risky is that while they make a great topic of discussion, when it comes to marketing, combining the aesthetics of two different brands without compromising on imagination and design creativity is a big deal. The challenge is
It looks like Swedish retailer H&M has cracked the collab code. Over a span of two decades, it has collaborated with some of the biggest designers from Versace, Stella McCartney and Balmain to Karl Lagerfeld, Sabyasachi and Kenzo, creating collections that have sold out instantly. Even its latest high-fashion-high street project with Mugler, the high-fashion brand known for baggy and denim-bonded thong jeans, leather outerwear and form-flattering minis, will be available online in India on May 11. And as it dropped in stores, it seems to be a hit. Till the time of writing this article (11 am on May 11), most of the collection was out of stock.
The collection, which includes sexy, gender-fluid bodysuits, blazers, tights, jeans, and T-shirts in sizes XS-XL (I was expecting plus-size clothing as well, given Mugler’s continued focus on body positivity , but sadly they were missing), boasts H&M’s comfortable shapes and signature Mugler designs – haute couture with avant-garde theatrics.
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“We don’t think of collaborations as trends. In fact quite the contrary…they are about offering our shoppers moments of fashion history, items that will be treasured forever,” H&M creative consultant Ann-Sophie Johansson says. “The Mugler collaboration feels totally right for now. There’s a current global enthusiasm for icons from the ’80s and ’90s, and I think young people are looking to the past for inspiration. Thierry Mugler, the founder of the house, is obviously a big part of it. He is the key to the vibrancy and excitement of the era.
To understand more about how the two brands worked on the collection and the inspiration behind it, I spoke with Casey Cadwaladr, Mugler’s creative director. Edited excerpts:
How easy was it to combine Mugler’s avant-garde aesthetic with H&M’s approach to design?
It was an enjoyable process and I learned a lot. I think there is a shared value system between Mugler and H&M; Both care a lot about inclusivity and opening up high fashion to a wider audience. I’m thrilled that we can bring people Mugler pieces at such great prices (starting around). 3,500). The one thing we focused on with this collection was how could we take our flagship, iconic pieces, whether dresses or jeans or bodysuits, and produce them at the scale and price-point we needed.
One way of doing this was to carefully identify which details were essential, and which could be taken back for further cleaning. So maybe it’s a seam that was removed, or the number of ties or knots on a dress that was edited down. This allowed us to create really beautiful pieces that are by no means a compromise, but that come at an affordable price point.
What inspired you to say yes to this collaboration?
It was a huge moment both for me as a designer and for the house of Mugler. Plus, I think everyone in fashion is aware of H&M designer collaborations; They are really iconic. So when we started working on the collection, I spent a lot of time reflecting on my memories of collaborations that Albert Elbaz had done, which was very true to Lanvin in terms of the design of the pieces, and Versace and With Margiela, who I actually bought from at that point, and who was really about introducing signature pieces to people. I took a lot of inspiration from that idea. So I was adamant that it must be a true Mugler, nothing compromised or watered down. I wanted it to be really down home and a celebration of our classics. It felt really special to be able to produce it.
How many times did you go back to the collection while creating this collection?
My own journey with the house is very much connected to the collection, and using key elements of it as starting points for new ideas, is something I do often. I’m not afraid to go back, and look for references to shapes or clothing or details.
For example, early in my time at Mugler, I learned that when Lycra was invented, Mugler did almost their entire collection in it, and I took a lot of inspiration from that. You can see that in collaborations with many stretchy pieces, such as catsuits and dresses. He also did a lot in denim, which we continue to do now. So the collection will always be there in a subtle way, but within the collection we also tried to pay homage more directly.
So, along with contemporary pieces, the collection consists of a mix of archive pieces, remakes from the 80s and 90s, including fabrics, tailoring and some amazing jewellery, all designed by Thierry Mugler. It was a cool way to honor the legacy of Thierry Mugler (the founder), and also a great way to acknowledge the huge enthusiasm for 80s and 90s fashion and vintage amongst the youth at the moment.
When selecting, I spent time thinking about what people really wanted, and what would truly encapsulate the brand’s legacy. I knew, for example, that I wanted an ’80s black velvet dress, because the original vintage version had recently had its new modern life, worn by so many youth icons, whether at shows or in rads. On the carpet And I love the skirt suit, too, because it’s punk but also feminine, and it kind of encapsulates the dualities of Mugler, how it can be very thoughtful and mushy and couture, and yet, on the one hand, quite cheeky and daring. . I love those jugalbandis. The pieces from all the collections showcase the richness of the house, but also my own journey with Mugler, the starting points and references that inspire the house today.
What is the biggest fashion trend of this year?
I try never to think about trends. To me, great fashion is about freedom, individuality, using materials and the body in ways that are innovative and yet timeless. I don’t like the idea of a piece of clothing ‘dying’; I want to create fashion that people will cherish and enjoy for years to come.
Many of the pieces in the collection look gender fluid. Is Mugler moving in this direction?
Gender fluidity, and embracing all kinds of expressions of gender and beauty, is really embedded in the history of the house. Thierry Mugler was inspired by all kinds of people, he was serving queer and non-binary figures from the very beginning, long before some of the conversations we’re having now about inclusivity in fashion.
Obviously, such a way of looking at the world is in line with my values. And we have created this collection keeping that ethos in mind. So all pieces, whether clothing or accessories, are really designed to be borrowed and shared across genders, even if they are labeled as “menswear” and “womenswear”. I think people can style the collection any way they want.
Also Read: Sabyasachi Gives India Touch To H&M With Sarees, Kurtas!