If you’ve ever been lucky enough to witness Bella Hadid do 3 cartwheels in a row to Maureen’s “Tic”, wearing a super tight, sexy AF Mugler dress, credit goes to Casey Cadwallader as he made this unlikely situation happen in one of the brand’s latest filmed shows. The designer has created many more such moments since he was appointed artistic director of the French house. With a degree in architecture from Cornell University and a track record working with brands such as Narciso Rodriguez, Marc Jacobs, Loewe and Acne Studios, this young US designer with a passion for fashion, music and pop culture has succeeded in reminding the younger generation of what Mugler was all about by bringing its codes up to date. As a result, the brand can boast of having re-entered the top 5 of the most prominent and exciting houses in the fashion game today. Whether through his sleek collections, his eclectic casting choices or his assertive stance, Casey Cadwallader has charted a new and relevant course for Mugler, while leading the industry into an era of fashion that is more innovative, spectacular, inclusive and authentic than ever.
MIXTE. You have now been at the helm of Mugler, the iconic French label famous for delivering true pop culture moments in the 1980s and 1990s, for just over four years. What is your first memory of the brand and its creator, Manfred Thierry Mugler, who passed away earlier this year?
CASEY CADWALLADER. I’m originally from New Hampshire. The only culture I had at my fingertips at the time was TV, especially MTV. I remember seeing George Michael’s « Too Funky » video, in which Thierry Mugler had collaborated. At the time, I didn’t realise that the models in the video, such as Linda Evangelista, Eva Herzigova or Tyra Banks, were wearing his designs. What I remember is a musical and visual slap in the face. That’s when Mugler first made an impression on me, unconsciously…
M. How would you describe the brand’s essence?
C.C. I would say that audacity is a key factor in the Mugler identity. It’s very « in your face » and I think the word « risqué » in French sounds particularly good to define it. The silhouette is very sharp while still being in touch with the body and its contours. This gives a strong impression of empowerment: when you wear Mugler, you feel stronger, more determined, more powerful.
M. How does your world and your personal aesthetic relate to Mugler?
C.C. It’s a very sculptural brand that skillfully mixes glamour and tailoring. As someone who studied architecture, I’ve always loved that style in fashion, as well as sexy dresses, minimalist looks and more maximalist silhouettes. So I knew that I could have fun coming up with something exciting and coherent.
M. What was the main challenge to take up in order to bring your vision of the brand to life?
C.C. It was to present a project that echoed Mugler’s history and archives without being a copy of what had been done before. What should be kept or amended? The idea was really to understand the DNA of the brand and what it represents, and then to combine it with today’s cultural codes. Once I had all these components, I included key Mugler elements: strong shoulders, prominent curves and hips, accentuated waists, corsetry… In short, things that make you want to show off, to look good. Mugler is clearly not for chilling on a sofa, but for going out and kicking ass. It’s a moment of total power and absolute fierceness.