Thierry Mugler taught me a man’s influence is measured in the smallest gestures. In 2010 I worked with Mugler on a play he was directing for his muse Joey Arias. I was hired to create projections for the show.
I’ve never been as nervous and starstruck as our first meeting. For gay men from the 90s, Mugler was a titan. He used lizards, insects, aliens and angels to wrap supermodels in latex and wings. During AIDS, his aesthetic was about survival, sex, and the Queer heavens. His music video for George Michael’s Too Funky was a moment for Queers in small towns: there was a world where glamour was resistance.
The elevator opened into a penthouse castle in Chelsea. My life was about to change. I was a hungry twink, greeted by Warhol’s Querelle, a Moiro hanging in a room of light, a fireplace the size of my bedroom. In person Manfred (as he now preferred to be called) was intimidating and frankly, a little scary. Plastic surgery, implants and exercise had transformed his dancer body into a mountain, his face was almost creature-like. His eyes were lasers. Everyone seemed a bit scared of him…
With me, he was attentive, even a little goofy. He spoke with a thick accent in strange sentences (“My apologies it smells like tuna in here, for my lunch is tuna.”) He sent late night emails, rambling with ideas and odd commas. He paid close attention to my weird experimental films, when he liked something, he patted me on the back with those enormous hands. I felt anointed.
One day, walking around the stage, we brainstormed about the textures of rain, fur and eggs. He was excited, talking with his hands. His bottle of Muscle Milk flew and landed at my feet. I bent to pick it up and he waved at me sternly. “No.” An assistant hurried on stage to pick it up. The smallest of gestures.
The play was canceled. I was devastated. Manfred sent a long message explaining why and encouraged me to keep working. He didn’t need to do that. Like the Gods, he returned to Mount Olympus and I never saw him again, but the mere rumor I was working with Mugler jump started my career in NYC. I put so much beauty into the world because of him. So many others did too.
Thierry Manfred Mugler was a man who created galaxies, redefined the body and made it effortless, all in the wave of his hand, all in the smallest of gestures.Embed from Getty Images
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In celebration of the life and career of the great Manfred Thierry Mugler, I wrote out ten things that you might not have known about the renowned French fashion icon for my friends at @29Secrets. Give it a read:https://t.co/50rEBAtJAm pic.twitter.com/NdlLvcCkdX— Christopher Turner (@Turnstylin) January 24, 2022