How the Mugler Bodysuit Became the New Pop Star Uniform

Dua Lipa on stage singing wearing a Mugler Bodysuit
Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Pop stars have a way of defining the more over-the-top outer limits of an era’s style. It may not be what we’re all wearing in our day-to-day lives, but their trends define the fashion of a moment in time just as much—or more—as the cut of our jeans or the length of our skirts do. And right now, no item has taken off among the pop elite quite like the Mugler bodysuit.

You’ve seen them on Miley. You’ve seen them on Cardi. You’ve seen them on Dua Lipa multiple times. Beyoncé wore one of the cover of British Vogue. They’re even more ubiquitous than those vintage Jean Paul Gaultier op art bodysuits and bodycon dresses were for a moment before quarantine.

Casey Cadwallader, a veteran behind the scenes at Loewe and Acne Studios, was announced as Mugler’s new creative director at the tail end of 2017, and has now found his trademark over his past three collections with garments that combine mesh or lace with opaque nylon panels that hug the body and put an emphasis on curves (at times, creating the illusion of their existence). They hug the body like a Zaha Hadid-design exoskeleton might hug a building, which may be no mistake. Cadwallader has a degree from Cornell in architecture. Amazingly, they don’t easily snag—and can be worn again for those daring enough to do so.

They’re also in line with the foundation of the House of Mugler. Think of Thierry Mugler’s famous cyborg bodysuit or his couture garments that used peek-a-boo bodysuits as a base. Cadwallader has translated that DNA into something a bit more minimal, but still in line with the past. Only at a label like Mugler could these suits be considered a minimalist, stripped-back take on house codes.

Tracking the rise of the suits as pop star uniforms takes us back (like many strains of very of-the-moment culture) to Cardi B and Meagan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” music video. The pair traded verses while wearing two candy-colored versions of the bodysuits in a sort of Willy Wonka funhouse room.

Screenshot courtesy of Atlantic Records

Miley Cyrus then explored their live performance potential when she took to the (socially distanced) stage at the iHeart Festival. Paired with glistening jewelry and some bleach-blond-art-school-kid haircut, the bodysuit added an extra oomph of “iconic” to her now-legendary cover of “Heart of Glass.”

A few months later, Beyoncé could be found wearing a black version on the cover of British Vogue. Beyoncé once famously retained the services of Thierry Mugler himself as an artistic advisor, but has remained a fan of the house under Cadwallader.

“Beyoncé is our queen and this look is fit for a queen,” Cadwallader told the magazine. He also added: “This bodysuit is the grand finale of my mesh journey.”

Bey’s version was made up of 64 separate panels and took about 100 hours to stitch together.

Dua Lipa was an early admirer of the beginning of Cadwallader's “mesh journey” when she wore an earlier version of the Mugler bodysuit to perform at the 2019 MTV EMAs, and she’s since worn them in photoshoots. But her most major Mugler moment so far came during her Studio 2054 special when she wore a custom crystal-adorned version.

Image via @DuaLipa's Instagram

Gee, who else has worn it? Oh, right, there was Doja Cat in one for her videos for “Streets.”

Kali Uchis put one on to attend the digital Grammys.

We’re sure we’re missing someone out there (though for the record, the bodysuit TikToker Addison Rae wore in her recent stab at playing a pop star, her video for debut single “Obsession,” was similar but not Mugler).

Perhaps our favorite pop star moment belongs to an artist who isn’t too familiar to us in the states, but is a burgeoning star in France. Yseult wore one to perform at the Victoires de la Musique Award Ceremony, the French equivalent of the Grammys.

Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

At press time, no male pop star has jumped on the trend. Though Cadawallader has designed something similar for them, just in case. We know Harry Styles is devoted to Gucci, but Shawn Mendes, perhaps?