Casey Cadwallader Debuts His New Mugler

While unveiling his Fall 2018 debut, the creative director revealed he wants to “build a culture”

“I want to build a culture,” said Casey Cadwallader, Mugler’s new creative director, during a preview of his debut Fall 2018 collection for the house. “When Mr. Mugler was at the helm, the place was pulsating with energy and culture and performances and amazing characters and amazing women. I want to make my version of that come alive today.”

The Cornell-educated architect-turned-designer, who was in charge of Acne Studios’ pre-collections before being appointed as David Koma’s replacement at Mugler in December of last year, has some lofty goals. And his Fall 2018 outing poises him to achieve them. For starters, Cadwallader eschewed casting the obvious models for his lookbook. Instead, he chose dynamic women including French Olympic swimmer Anna Santamans, American rapper Dani 070 Shake, and French producer Vera Massias to show off his Fall lineup. “It’s not about being the hottest model on the block,” he said. “It’s about being an amazing person. I think Mugler is about power—feminine power—and as a boy who took over this brand, I wanted to talk to a lot of people about what that could mean for them.”

The lookbook (shot by Arnaud Lajeunie) and corresponding film (by Grégoire Dyer) were lensed in Barcelona in architect Ricardo Bofill’s home. The former cement factory was handpicked by Cadwallader and merges his love of fashion and architecture. Speaking of, architectural, sculptural silhouettes are at the center of this first effort. While Cadwallader looked to the archive for much of his inspiration, a standout ensemble—an oversized denim jacket and trousers with spiraling seams—is rooted in his interpretation of the Mugler spirit rather than past designs. Elsewhere, there are sensual jersey dresses with cutouts, smart menswear-inspired coats, artful paper-flower prints, and wares with notes of athleticism. Additionally, Cadwallader is bringing back the iconic Mugler blue, using it for lining and topstitching.

So what does Mugler mean today? “I think it’s about making it a little more grounded in modern society,” the designer said. “It’s about defining what [the house] is and what it has been, but updating that and making it relevant for today—for the new power woman of 2018. She’s driven and she’s not trying to prove herself to anyone else. The ’80s Mugler power shoulder was about the woman in the man’s workplace and trying to be as tough as a man, but I always get this feeling that it was like putting on a show for a man,” he continued. “Now, I think people put on a show for themselves. I think it’s about feeling much more empowered by what you wear. I don’t want a bunch of tight, sexy clothes, I want easy, fluid clothes that still are powerful because you shine and you’re the one who’s sexy. The clothes can elevate you and you feel a different way about yourself, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the person.”

It’s worth noting that the abovementioned “person” doesn’t have to be a woman—a number of the Fall 2018 pieces are gender-fluid and look just as great on a guy as a gal. Cadwallader made sure of that, fitting a handful of the garments to himself. He even ordered a few looks, as did Net-a-Porter and Bergdorf Goodman, who will be carrying this first offering.

For Spring 2018, expect more forward-thinking design and an intimate presentation that taps into the house’s vivacious essence. “I really want to blow the doors down on what people have thought about Mugler in the last 10 years,” Cadwallader said. “And I really want to bring all of that energy that Mr. Mugler had for his brand back today, but in a new way. I want it to be about art and architecture and performance and dancers and hip-hop stars. I want it to be really vibrant.”

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