Mugler x H&M: high-end meets high-street yet again

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H&M are back with yet another fashion-forward, high-end collaboration. Casey Cadwallader, creative director of Mugler, recently announced an upcoming collaboration with the popular Swedish high street fashion brand, set for release on 11th May. The collaboration pays homage to the late Manfred Thierry Mugler, who had given the green light for the partnership before he passed back in January.

Mugler is not the first high fashion brand H&M has set its sights on. This highly anticipated collaboration only extends an already impressive list of prestigious brands the Swedish retailer has launched collections with, gaining immense amounts of success in return. The initial triumphant partnership between Chanel and H&M in 2004 led to numerous others such as Versace, Comme des Garçons, Marni in 2012, Maison Margiela in 2013 and most recently, Simone Rocha in 2021.

The release of the campaign was ignited with a reimagined music video for Stardust’s 1998 hit ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ starring Jerry Hall and Connie Fleming- Mugler’s original muses in the 90s. Thus, the collection aims to encapsulate vintage Mugler. While staying true to its eccentric and erogenous quality, it also aims to incorporate the contemporary comforts of today’s fashion. Cadwallader reiterates that his inspiration was drawn from previous H&M and designer brand collaborations, where they reinstate their signature pieces into the collections. At first glance, the released collection looks very signature Mugler. From corsetry and the Cadwallader invented hallmarked spiral jeans to cut-out bodysuits and Mugler’s iconic catsuits, their whole collection bears a striking similarity to their 2021 Spring RTW. Especially the parallels between the neon slinky bodycon, the green leather coat and the denim-panelled cropped jacket. A personal favourite is definitely the mesh corset panel blazer which we get a glimpse of in the promotional music video. Not only is the collection giving us clothing, it is also introducing a line of accessories such as belts with an embellished Mugler logo, gloves and footwear.

While staying true to its eccentric and erogenous quality, it also aims to incorporate the contemporary comforts of today’s fashion

Since the resurgence of  90s/y2k style, padded shoulder suits and micro skirts with bulky monogrammed belts are back in season. Mugler is in high demand for its sharply tailored suits, sexy catsuits and fitted leather coats. We have seen Mugler on some big names, including ‘Euphoria’ star Alexa Demie in the 1991 Vampire dress, Demi Moore in the iconic, strappy number for ‘Indecent Proposal’ and even David Bowie in his neon green look for ‘You belong in Rock ‘n’ Roll’ from the SS92 RTW collection. The French brand has presented daring and bold choices for both men and women. Cadwallader’s direction echoes Thierry Mugler’s objective of the boundless interpretations of femininity and power. His clothing, as he himself stated in an interview for Vogue France, “offers power, an uprightness that opens the mind,” which will be echoed in the H&M collaboration.

The ongoing debate of whether high-end fashion brands be made inclusive creates extremities in opinion. Some argue that luxury brands should remain exclusive, high-end for a reason. High-fashion consumers may frown upon price drops, fearing the effects on the value of the brand itself and deeming the exclusivity of Mugler lessened. Others will argue that the idea of making high-end brands accessible to everyone allows, importantly, for a taste of luxurious fashion- no matter what class you are. Since this is a streetwear high-fashion partnership, it is inevitable that there will be a price drop, as Mugler prices will turn into H&M prices. Previous collaborations have shown that pieces can cost anywhere from £20-100.  

Making high-end brands accessible to everyone allows, importantly, for a taste of luxurious fashion- no matter what class you are

There are also concerns as to whether the decrease of price affects the quality that the luxury brand offers. Mugler has always showcased quality and style within their clothing. Cadwallader made generous use of lycra as material for his body hugging catsuits, spiral jeans and leggings in his main line, and while this persists for this new collaboration we are also being met with mesh and two-tone denim. Rest assured, Cadwallader was “determined that this collection be true Mugler,” as he himself told H&M. “The details and quality of every piece had to be exactly as we do them”.

The genius of Mugler will live on forever. This will definitely be a highly anticipated collection. With the addition of Cadwallader’s creative direction, let’s hope this collection honours Mr. Mugler’s legacy.

Image: ajay_suresh via Flickr

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