In the 1980s, Thierry Mugler was the enfant terrible of French fashion, known for his dramatic tailoring and equally theatrical runway presentations. But his controversial, cowboy-inspired Spring/Summer 1992 show may have gone too far, injecting S&M, bikers, showgirls, and drag queens into a kitschy, almost cartoonish vision of the American West: "skin-tight, pony-patterned vinyl tights; a skirt made of looped lassoes; a short skirt that was a replica of a cowboy hat--though much larger--in gold sequins; plus lots of prairie dresses that would never be allowed in a John Wayne movie," accessorized with bullwhips, chaps, bolo ties, and boots.1
Thierry Mugler, Paris
Mugler's show was held some distance form the tents of the Louvre where most of the Paris collections were presented, in a rickety building near the Arc de Triomphe.2 While Mugler had promised a "celeb-packed evening," critics were underwhelmed by lineup of the models, which included porn star Jeff Stryker in a leather vest and chaps and not much else, drag performer Lypsinka, and one half of the dance music group Dee-Lite.3 The show marked the surprise runway debut of socialite Ivana Trump, newly divorced from Donald Trump, "dressed like Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke," the Los Angeles Times quipped.4 "By her third spin down the runway, she was having a jolly good time revealing the results of much of her plastic surgery, wearing a long taupe satin strapless gown with the bottom designed to resemble a cowboy hat."5
Thierry Mugler, Paris
Critics savaged the collection--especially American critics, who did not appreciate Mugler's kinky bastardization of the frontier myth. "Burlesque has always been Mugler's stock in trade on the runway," the Los Angeles Times admitted. "But this time the S&M undertones and the gaudy excesses were out of sync with America's more conservative attitude."6 Women's Wear Daily found something to admire beneath the sequins and hype, however. "Theatrics aside, Mugler did manage to get a firm grip on the season's trends: fringe skirts, a herd of cowpoke chaps, calfskin prints, long shirtdresses, transparent looks, bi-level lengths, bare midriffs and even some bare bottoms."7 These sculptural gabardine suits studded with silver steer's horns were among the more wearable pieces in the show. The collars, contrasting yokes, and peplum waists recall the construction of the Western shirts beloved by urban cowboys since the 1920s.
1Chicago Tribune, October 23, 1991.
2Chicago Tribune, October 23, 1991.
3Women's Wear Daily, October 18, 1991.
4Los Angeles Times, October 21, 1991.
5Chicago Tribune, October 23, 1991.
6Los Angeles Times, October 21, 1991.
7Women's Wear Daily, October 18, 1991.