“He Was Such a Visionary in His Own Lane”—Casey Cadwallader Remembers Thierry Mugler
Knowing that he was watching, I was always trying to make him proud, I was trying to show him that I got it. That I understood what he was trying to do and trying, for my part, to find a different way of putting that into society today. There was one runway show where it started to get a little more daring, and then into the films [we made during the pandemic]—I think the films really made me able to connect more with all of the nuances and the layers that make it Mugler. So I think that’s when he [Mugler] sort of started to go: “Oh, maybe?”
Our first meeting was in person and it was highly organized. That’s when we were able to look each other in the eye, to chat, and to talk about what’s important today, and what’s the future of the house. I walked away with this amazing sense of relief and connection and I think that was the game changer. What was important for me [about our meeting] was that it ended with a hug and a smile. His support gave me more energy to push forward and I think his passing is just going to make me push even harder because I feel more responsibility now to honor him. I have always felt that pressure, but I feel like it’s much stronger now.
He was such a visionary in his own lane. His craft looked different, his shapes looked different, the people on the runway looked different, the fragrance smelled different, the bottle looked different. He was just doing him. And I think that he was clashing against certain standards of taste and aesthetic, and he did not care. For me that is the core of the story, that this man fought for his direction and lived what was his passion, and to be so close to understanding that in my way, for me is what is inspiring. To just do yourself and not be afraid to go for the thing that shot into your head that hasn’t been done yet or is difficult to do, whatever that is for you.
He had Parisian bourgeois ladies that were the big clients in the front row. And he was showing them something from his world that was not from their world and the fact that he dared to provoke that visibility is very, very different. Some people just adored that and some people didn’t, and he didn’t care because he cared about what was on that stage and that’s what he wanted. We’re always standing on the shoulders of people who fought before us. I mean, as a gay person, I feel that so strongly. Working at this house, I’m standing on his shoulders so much. And you have to do that with a lot of respect. Then you take the baton and you go where you can go with it, but you have to respect who came before you.
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