Casey Cadwallader put on one of the most memorable shows of Paris Fashion Week with her spring collection for Mugler, and all it took was a few yards of fabric and some powerful wind machines. Well, that, and a cast that included Angela Bassett, Fan Bingbing, Paris Hilton, and an all-star team of veteran models.
Guests murmured their approval as fans sprang into action, providing the first semblance of air conditioning in a season blighted by steamy venues. The graphic black fans hanging from the ceiling were the only adornments on the white box and it quickly became apparent why.
The white background was the perfect complement to Cadwallader’s spectacular collection, which alternated between graphic tailoring and dresses made from yards of silky fabric that curled in the air like ink in water.
Mariacarla Boscono was the first out the door wearing a 3D molded sheer black bustier and a long black veil that flowed from the back of her head.
Hilton walked the runway in a custom-made black top with sharp shoulders, cropped to reveal a corset and matching skirt cut out over her thighs. Cadwallader paid homage to founder Manfred Thierry Mugler’s feathered creations with a sequence of dresses sprouting iridescent die-cut plastic sequins that fluttered in the wind.
The spectacle generated a succession of surprising moments, from the black coat dripping 7,000 meters of degrade hand-dyed fringe to Bassett’s dramatic black dress, which unfurled like a giant jellyfish. Fan’s tail transformed into an orange gradient that flickered like a flame.
Cadwallader also showed off some men’s looks in advance of a full collection next year, following the success of Mugler’s recent collaboration with retailer H&M, which gained a large male following.
It was the first collection since the brand revealed it was softening the see-now, buy-now strategy it adopted during the coronavirus pandemic. Cadwallader said she wanted to maintain the level of excitement of her popular films and that having the right cast was key to delivering that drama.
“This season, I really wanted to find established, wise, powerful, confident women who had inspired me,” she said. “The yeses come from people who are performative and playful and want to do it, and it’s really interesting because then they show up and they’re excited and ready to make it on the runway. That energy is fundamental for Mugler.”
Between the characters on the catwalk and a front row with figures such as Issa Rae, Laverne Cox, Karol G, Venus Williams, Tyga and Ashley Graham, the show evoked the heyday of the brand in the 80s, when its founder was a pioneer in the modern fashion show. with its Broadway-type productions.
Cadwallader did it his way and the audience was simply impressed.