LONDON — Five years have passed since the American designer Casey Cadwallader was introduced as artistic director of the French fashion house Mugler.
During his tenure, he has renovated the house to create a different kind of buzz, one that deviates from founder Thierry Mugler’s theatrics with a more demure take on the brand’s design codes for what it could mean to celebrate the body.
“A lot has changed, I remember the beginning, walking into an office with a team and joining that team and seeing them flourish,” Cadwallader told WWD, attributing success to the people he works with.
“Learn what Mugler is over time and adapt to it. In a way, I became a Mugler for about four years and it’s really fun to watch that process. I feel like I’ve grown a lot and Mugler has grown a lot; now we have a lot more people on the team,” said Cadwallader.
His success has brought him to London to christen the four-week opening of “Body Spaces”, a pop-up with Selfridge’s Corner Shop showcasing the best Mugler pieces in the brand’s signature lilac-blue hue, including select pieces from the fall 2022 and spring 2023 collections, limited edition fragrances and holiday gifts.
“I remember the FashionTV channel when I was a kid and watched Mugler shows there,” Cadwallader recalled, of his introduction to his current role.
Her older sister was a student of George Michael, which also helped, she said. “I definitely remember the music video for ‘Too Funky’ as a highlight, that’s how I knew Mugler was a cool thing back in Paris, but I didn’t know I’d be a part of it one day,” she said.
“I come from New Hampshire in the US, a pretty small town, and I was very connected to television because I was trying to absorb as much culture as I could from that box,” said Cadwallader, in his soft accent, with more manners. of an architect than of a fashion designer.
He has an architecture degree from Cornell University that helps guide his current practice, especially when it comes to being aware of debris, body contours, and the use of design as a means of manipulating the eye.
“It’s always a race, even if the collection is small, it’s technically very challenging what we do, and also very precise,” he said. He questions everything that surrounds him and the benefits behind the decisions; he calls it a “very architectural way of thinking.”
Cadwallader only designs two collections a year and, since the pandemic, has moved away from the traditional catwalk and has opted for video formats.
“I promised myself and the world that I wouldn’t make a boring fashion video so that it became this quest for, how can we do this crazy thing that takes the runway and breaks it up and fills it with surprises and entertainment,” he said. .
“There is something very different about the film, where Bella Hadid can look at you through the camera and you can feel her. You also feel her when she walks down the runway, but it’s very different to look someone in the eye and also be able to do things that you can’t do live very easily, like stunts and CGI,” said Cadwallader.
For Mugler’s previous three collections, Cadwallader has been working with film director Torso on a trilogy of films, leaving him in full control of the narrative he presents, from the visual language to the overall brand storytelling, but the most Hard is letting its cast go, which has featured Dominique Jackson, Megan Thee Stallion, Chloë Sevigny and Hunter Schafer.
“We said the movies were a trilogy, which means ‘Is that it?’ put the question mark in people’s minds,” she said. He has no intention of going back to the way things were before the COVID-19 pandemic and he said he loves what he does because he doesn’t really pay attention to what others do. His priority continues to be promoting new formats.
Cadwallader often starts with the Mugler archive as a point of contact for their different flavors and themes.
“And then what I bring to that is much more personal. I research anything from the shape of a car fender that reminds me of the hip shape of a dress, to modern art and antiques. I look at a lot of auctions and end up with a mood board that is all these different things that appeal to me personally and somehow inform the impression or the materiality of the season,” he said, explaining that being subjective is the way to “end up doing something that Go your own way and it’s very important to stay in your own lane.”
Staying his own way doesn’t mean Cadwallader isn’t willing to help. In February, he teamed up with Jimmy Choo’s Sandra Choi on a shoe collection, where he said, “Casey is obsessed with shoes, I found my soulmate.”
Cadwallader, dressed in understated head-to-toe black with a silver cap and necklace, has a secret obsession: watches. He only owns one watch, but he has a photo album dedicated to them on his mobile phone, from Patek Philippe from the 1920s to Audemars Piguet.
“It would be an honor and I would love to collaborate on a safe watch [with Patek Philippe]he said, adding that he would jump in first to “look at the ones from the 1920s. They make some really good ones now, of course, but my favorites are the old ones.”