Oh, So Hot! Mugler AW21

It’s getting sultry hot in here! Casey Cadwallader, the young American designer, has reignited the Mugler flame since his arrival at the label in 2018 by adapting the brand’s curvy, body-con aesthetic for the athleisure generation. Where Mugler’s corsets were rigid – his iconic 1992 motorcycle-chassis corset was made from plastic, metal, and Plexiglas – Cadwallader’s are built with two-way stretch. “You can tie your shoes, sit in a taxi, you can breathe,” he said in a preview of the autumn-winter 2021 collection. Material innovation and an embrace of extremes are essential to Mugler’s current success. There’s a pair of ass-less pants in the new lineup, but Cadwallader indicated that he might not have designed them if customers weren’t already wearing the part-sheer, part-opaque (read: mostly sheer) tights he’s been making for the last couple of seasons “without clothing.” The news at Mugler this time around is how he’s evolving his hyper-sexy vibe. In previous collections he’s leaned on black, but here he played with stretchy knit color-block layers to great effect, mixing emerald, ultramarine, bordeaux, and bright orange in one look and highlighter yellow, navy, and orange in another. His other experiment was born from a vintage Mugler bauble with a spray of flexible gold snake chains that he found at a flea market. “I loved how the chains moved,” he said. “I was looking for movement this season.” He sourced modern versions of the chains and made body jewelry from them. Bella Hadid models an intricate necklace top with a bodysuit in the brand’s new video, though Cadwallader’s fans are just as likely to wear it solo.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Cosmic Goddess Power. Mugler SS21 (2)

Cosmic goddess power hits the Earth – that’s how one might discover Casey Cadwallader‘s brilliant Mugler collection for spring-summer 2021 (part 2). “It’s important to do the jaw-dropping scandalous stuff; that’s what this house is built on. But it’s also about trying to address an interesting day-to-day wardrobe too,” Cadwallader said. Well, about as “day” as Mugler will ever get. “A lot of young people want to buy Mugler now. I’m trying to do the right thing for the right price,” he explained, pointing to expressive pieces made from recycled Lycra that won’t empty that demographic’s wallets. He’s also thinking a lot about how to elevate sportswear; combining sport with lingerie. Take, for example, the graphic, gravity-defying top that Bella Hadid wears, the one that looks like it’s supported on nothing more than a wing and a prayer, but is in fact a smart combination of fabric technology and illusion. It’s made from a super-stretchy mesh that not only sculpts and smooths the body but also completely disappears against any skin tone. “The idea of shape-wear is built into these garments; there is a lot of attention on fabric technology,” Cadwallader said. “For me, all bodies need to be designed for, not just skinny bodies, although, even skinny bodies sometimes have a bigger butt or boobs and…the clothes help you out with that instead of making you feel bad for having them. I’m celebrating different body shapes.” Cadwallader is having fun making these videos, too. “Should a hyper-charged Hunter Schafer jump off a box onto the runway to drum and bass music? Yes!” he exclaims, of his nine-minute film directed by Torso Solutions, which also stars Kembra Pfahler, Alek Wek, and Dominique Jackson. “I’ve always wanted models to break into dance on the runway or to do something, but when it’s a live show it’s very risky. The runway can be intense and scary, and the audience is often exhausted, but when you’re doing a film you can mess around, play, and edit.” Like deciding to “rewind” and present the whole show backwards, as he does here. The best news? Having just moved the house to a see-now-buy-now model, it’s all available to buy right now.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Retro-Futuristic. Versace AW21

Versace is launching a new monogram this season. Named La Greca, it’s a take on the brand’s heritage Greek Key pattern turned trompe l’oeil in the genre of Goyard’s Chevrons or Moynat’s infinite Ms. In the film Versace released, in the middle of digital Paris Fashion Week, La Greca had been blown up into a massive wooden structure that framed a runway-style show. Here, models walked through monograms wearing monogram clothes, carrying monogram bags, and accessorizing with monogram jewelry. Monogram, everything! But somehow, it didn’t suffocate the actual clothes. Donatella Versace came up with a convincing proposal for a post-lockdown wardrobe: easy, smart, and real. Sci-fi fabric treatments and styling stuff like harnesses fused with 1970s silhouettes in a slightly retro-futuristic expression were backed up by sculptural streetwear shapes and little bionic dresses (Bella Hadid, Rianne Van Rompaey and Mica Arganaraz looked gorgeous wearing them). Donatella thrives creatively lately, delivering collections that are super-Versace, but as well true to herself.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Eat (and Wear) Cake. Moschino AW20

I suddenly started enjoying Jeremy Scott’s Moschino last season, when he showed the super camp intepretation of fashion-meets-art. His work lately is absolutely un-commercial, and that might be reason looking at it is so amusing. For autumn-winter 2020, he chose a total fashion cliché: Marie Antoinette. Karl Lagerfeld did a Chanel collection dedicated to her. Last season, Thom Browne had his models wear painful-looking crinolines, corsets and big hair fit for the Versailles. In Milan, Scott clashed Marie Antoinette pannier dresses with the most emblematic womenswear garment of the radical 1960s, the miniskirt. Scott’s mini pannier came in various iterations: gold brocade on denim, white biker, black biker, and toile de Jouy. This archetypally 18th-century pattern was used across the collection with the original faces of its cavorting courtiers transformed into wide-eyed anime characters. The kitschy, cake-based finale that was served was hilarious and provided total visual oversaturation with all its sweetness and icing-like details. Let them eat (and wear) cake.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Body. Mugler SS20

While Casey Cadwallader‘s Mugler tailoring and corsetry is razor sharp, it’s also unbelievably body-loving and inclusive. For spring-summer 2020, the designer made a meaningful statement: his vision of the brand isn’t just for Instagram bodies, but for all. Yes, maybe Bella Hadid opened the show (she’s the only social-media-model I like), but the clothes were represented by women of different colors, sizes and gender identities. Kembra Pfahler took a runway turn, just like Debra Shaw, Karen Elson and Hanne Gaby Odiele. And the clothes? They were great, possibly the best we’ve seen from Cadwallader throughout his time at the label. Thierry Mugler’s vintage work from the ’80s and ’90s is the key inspiration for Casey, but he doesn’t let nostalgia ruin it. Exaggerated proportions and twisted glamour continue to be super seductive thanks to the usage of performance fabrics, while keeping the aesthetic clean and sharp lets Mugler look relevant and fresh. The more daring ones may choose a cropped jacket, net corset, and derrière-lifting stockings. The ones looking for something more day-ish, yet equally empowering, please take a look at the satin trench coat, an over-sized lilac blazer or the draped pencil skirts.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.