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.

God Is A Woman. Mugler SS21 (1)

God is a woman, and she’s wearing Mugler. Casey Cadwallader‘s vision for the brand is empowering, inclusive and boldly feminine. That’s again demonstrated in his spring-summer 2021 collection, which wasn’t presented during Paris Fashion Week, but as an off-the-schedule sci-fi video starring Bella Hadid and friends of the label. Cadwallader pointed out the increasing importance of music videos in the absence of live performances. He’s working on clothes for those apparently, too – just think Miley Cyrus, Cardi B and Caroline Polachek! In fact, about half of his time is spent on VIP requests. The other 50% he expends on the label’s ready-to-wear, but he’s not exactly playing it safe with this category either. “I felt it was time to deal with the fantasy side of Mugler,” he said, referring to the house founder’s infamous collections of the 1990s. There’s the hyper-sexy clothes, and then there’s the way he’s going about making them. Cadwallader is putting a lot of effort into sourcing more sustainable materials. He says those bodystockings will be constructed with 100% recycled lycra by autumn 2021. And he’s also working at lowering the prices of pieces like the twisting-seam jeans he designed for his first Mugler collection two years ago and the Lycra and illusion tulle leggings and tops that he likens to “complex puzzles” of couture pattern-making. “There’s energy in young people that want to buy Mugler,” he said. That jibes with the trend toward body-conscious – and body-positive! – collections we saw this season at brands like Fendi and Eckhaus Latta. Also, what’s new – Mugler is moving to a see-now-buy-now model starting in February. This capsule collection is a “prelude” of that outing. Many brands failed with this business-mode, but who knows, a brand like Mugler might really pull it off.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Sensational. Mugler AW20

Casey Cadwallader‘s Mugler is sensational. His vision of the brand is compatible with Thierry Mugler’s dramatic, super sexual vision of the brand, but makes it look contemporary and fit for women of all sizes and generations. A good many of the looks on his fall runway weren’t even street legal. Wearing the body stockings – sheer save for black insets echoing Mugler’s famously dangerous curves – would require a bodyguard. Mesh dresses studded with a grid-like precision were somewhat more discreet and a shade more democratic for that reason. Cadwallader adopted a similarly fierce attitude for his tailoring. Much of it was cut from leather. He also continues in mastering his stretch pieces. Jackets were shaped by integral corsets, or else they came with portrait necklines that framed the bust. He even went so far as to build garter belts into the waistbands of a couple of leather skirts. Cadwallader is one of the few designers that sees sexy in all sizes. There “are 2s, 4s, 6s, 8s, 10s,” he said of his lineup. “You feel them turning on when they put on these clothes.” Big yes.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.