Throughout his time as the creative director of Mugler, Casey Cadwallader has become a bit of a go-to designer for pop stars, with everyone from Dua Lipa to Cardi B eager to get their hands on his illusion catsuits. This high demand, as well as Cadwallader’s close proximity to the on-stage set, has allowed the designer to perfect the suit and fit an artist’s specific needs. “A performer essentially wants to feel safe on stage, they don’t want to fall out of something,” Cadwallader said during a Zoom meeting with reporters on June 2nd. “They keep evolving,” he said of the bodysuits, and Mugler’s spring ready-to-wear collection shows the latest iteration of what is now being referred to as the “pop star uniform.” So, what better way to show off the range of these pieces than to stage another one of his famed video presentations? For two seasons, Cadwallader worked with Torso Solutions to produce mind-bending fashion kaleidoscopes—and now, spring 2022 marks their third project together, as well as the most ambitious one yet.
The video starts with Megan Thee Stallion, but this isn’t a music video for the rapper (that one, co-directed by Cadwallader was released last week). This time, she’s a full-on Mugler girl. And with the slap of her butt, half of Megan’s jeans suddenly disappear, Cadwallader’s much-loved illusion tulle taking over.
Megan isn’t the only person to make her Mugler debut in the video. Next up is Chloë Sevigny, who pounds down a Hollywood movie set in a sculpted ombré mini dress, with Amber Valetta and Shalom Harlow working as the film crew behind her. For ten minutes, the action is nonstop. Lola Leon, Bella Hadid, Dominque Jackson, and more step out in cutout corsets, cropped coats that are more shoulders than anything else, and bodysuits that could have easily been painted on. Like his past videos, blink and you’ll miss Sevigny dropping to the floor, only to turn into Barbie Swaee, or Hadid suddenly duplicating before your very eyes. Per usual, the video flips the idea of a collection presentation on its head (literally and figuratively), leaving the viewer feeling both fully satisfied, and unsure of what they just watched.
It’s when the film ends, though, with an intense closeup of the video’s stars as well as Cadwallader himself, that you get a bit of a gut punch. The fast-paced drama suddenly slows to a halt, and ballerina Maria Kochetkova appears with a single spotlight above her, wearing one of Thierry Mugler’s dresses from his spring 1988 collection. “I know that [Mugler] loved that dress and it’s also a dress that I had referenced in the collection in working on the molded plexiglass harnesses,” Cadwallader said.
Mugler’s history with ballet made Kochetkova the clear option, but adding Swaee, who cuts in and out of the shot, allowed Cadwallader to represent the variety of the brand, and the relationship between the late founder and the current creative director. “I really wanted it to start in a very sort of somber and elegant way and then for it to break into the explosion of energy that, to me, really represents a dialogue between two people, a dialogue between two styles,” he said. “It’s not like I’m Barbie and he’s the ballet dancer, but more that there are these facets to Mugler and an ongoing energy.”