Beyoncé, Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, Cardi B. Some of the biggest pop stars of this decade have worn Casey Cadwallader’s sinuous Mugler catsuits. Now, thanks to H&M, you can too. The news that the iconic French house would be H&M’s latest collaborator broke a month ago, prompting a legion of fans to speculate about what would come from the hook-up: Lycra bodysuits, surely; a sharply tailored jacket, perhaps; an archive reissue, one would hope. Now, the wait—and all those speculative Tweets—are over. Today, H&M and Mugler are releasing a music video that answers everyone’s burning questions.
“I wanted to make people excited from the get-go, an explosion where everyone is like…wait, what is happening?” said Cadwallader via Zoom from his Paris office. Yes, the news leaked early, but even still this video is about to go bang. It’s been directed by Torso—the duo behind the brand’s three internet-acclaimed pandemic-time fashion videos featuring Hunter Schafer, Chloe Sevigny, and Megan Thee Stallion. And then there’s the cast, which includes everyone from Shygirl, Arca, Amaare, and Eartheater, to Sora Choi, Imaan Hammam, and Mariacarla Boscono. As an added bonus, the extra-sleek video features a re-record of Stardust’s 1998 “Music Sounds Better With You.” “It had to conjure a bit more of Manfred [Thierry Mugler]’s time, and it had to be a bopper,” Cadwallader said.
The collection, which launches in May following an event in New York City in April, is divided into different segments. First up is tailoring. “It’s an iconic category for Mugler, so it had to be there,” he said. This section also includes LBDs, dressy separates, and crystalized pieces. “Then there’s the Berlin, clubby, leathery fashion section,” including the nude-illusion jeans with spiral lycra inserts that have become a signature—and best seller—of Cadwallader’s at Mugler.
And the catsuits? “Well… I actually didn’t have one in there at first, but it had to be there—H&M asked,” Cadwallader said with a grin. “We never sold it as a bodysuit, just a top, so it’s interesting that this is how we’re selling it for the first time.” There’s also menswear. “It will be merchandised all together in the store, which speaks to the way I think about gender,” Cadwallader said. A lapelless tailored jacket and a zip-up corsetted hoodie are standouts.
After years of fast-retailers “interpreting” Cadwallader’s work at lower price points, this is his chance to speak directly to those customers. “We have a lot of young designers working at H&M, and it’s always interesting to ask them what they see as the hottest brands around, and almost all of them mentioned Mugler,” Ann-Sofie Johansson, creative advisor at H&M, said. The company had started conversations about a possible partnership with Mr. Mugler, together with Cadwallader and the house of Mugler, prior to the designer’s passing in 2022. “It felt new to be able to work with the house, its founder, but also the new creative force behind it that has made it modern and relevant once again,” she added.
The collection video, which premieres here, is a high-octane Y2K fashion fantasy, and remarkably inclusive in its casting of all genders and identities, sizes, and ages. Don’t miss the ’80s talk-show sequence featuring Jerry Hall and Connie Fleming. The Manfred Thierry Mugler muses wear archive looks reissued for the collaboration. Hall’s dress, in particular, was picked because of the cultural cachet it has acquired in the past few years. “It’s the Alexa Demie in Euphoria dress, and it’s the Dua Lipa dress,” Cadwallader said.
In the end, the collaboration is another step in Cadwallader’s vision for the Mugler brand. “My idea of Mugler has always been democratic,” he said, “and this was a way of making it clear that it’s always been about bringing everyone in. I am also a big fan of stratification, making something that is $10,000 and something that is $50. When you’re trying to wake up Sleeping Beauty, it’s important to shoot a gun in the air. That’s what I’ve been trying to do. Some things are niche, some are bold, and maybe sometimes too bold, but that’s the way of getting the DNA recharged. It’s always been part of a bigger long-term plan of starting there and then filling out into more real clothes for people.”
Cadwallader and H&M are confident Mugler fans will respond. “I always get messages on Instagram asking when I’ll make something for people who can’t afford Mugler,” Cadwallader said, adding with a laugh: “the other half of my messages are if they can model for us.” Safe to say that the first group will be very happy come May.