The Flirtation Between Fetish And High Fashion | Haute Macabre

The Flirtation Between Fetish And High Fashion

Seductive. Hauty. Elusive. Expensive.

The aesthetic of latex, a glossy “second skin,” carries a certain cachet with it:

Namely, one by which the audacious, highly theatrical fashion shows of  Thierry Mugler (circa ’80s/’90s haute couture) made for a spectacular pairing.

[nipped wasp waists :: architectural silhouettes :: black fabric shimmering as light refracts :: eva herzigova’s hair the hue of a cloud :: free of flaw, this…]

Two weeks have passed since I posted my tribute to Mugler’s heydey in avantguardia, though the “revisitation” inspired by Danièle Bott’s latest bio-pictorial Galaxy Glamour seems to have triggered an obsessive tendency in me—one that, quite frankly, borders on hysteria.

Akin to the proverbial Moment as referenced in 12-step programs, I can pinpoint the onset of insanity down to its precise longitude and latitude: my library, and the moment in which I realized Fetish Fashion Fantasy is no longer housed among its shelves. Despite the fact that I’ve purchased multiple copies of this book for gift-giving purposes since its release in ’88, somehow my personal copy ended up “in circulation” (in this case, a euphemism for consigned to oblivion).

Long out of print, used copies start around the $200 mark.  Ouch.

Then again, Mugler himself said that fashion “is wonderful and very cruel….a very demanding mistress.”

Perhaps the histrionics of haute aesthetics and glorified artifice are key factors in why I relate to—and covet—the obscenely over-priced and fantastically impractical articles of clothing, the sumptuous imagery, the artifacts of eccentric glamour?  Contrariwise, what if the motivation behind such a carefully constructed question was to allay my subconscious with a conscious (and conscientious) alibi?  Though as for what?  Well, the rhetorical questions—how they abound…

As is oft the case with human nature, what we fetishize most is what we cannot—or currently do not—have.

Pictured Above: One Of The Greats “giving runway” for One Of The Greats: top model-turned-gallery owner/curator Honor Fraser

In my case, the absence of Mugler’s earlier work (namely, that of the glamorously severe and extravagant nature) being easily accessible for visual stimuli unleashed nodes of longing and frustration.  Admittedly, I’m hyperbolic by nature—I am, after all, a writer; it’s my job to imbue a cotton puff with meaning, if assigned a topic as such. Nonetheless, when I divulge there’s yet to be a day in which my focus has wandered off into some facet of compulsive research/Müglermania?  Well, if that were not the case, somehow I doubt I would have been able to find this gem unlabeled and untagged on imageshack:

the illustration for Mugler’s “rubber-tyre” suit, complete with clutch—

along with a discovery via photobucket…

its manifestation.

(the ‘reveal’ of which is a retina-shattering, mind-melding, gooseflesh-inducing moment in the first video post at 2:11—not that I’d, uh, be so much of a freak that I’d be privy to such minutiae!)

So spot-on, it seems as if the order were reversed: the fashion design; then an artistic rendering.

Queued next among the archives,

here’s another piece of perfect:

“A Gun For Hire,” photographed by Helmut Newton for Mugler :: SOURCE: Fashion Beyond Fashion ::

magnificent in both its architectural structure and pitch-perfect elements of fetishism presented by each artist—as well as their artistic medium, the model. At once, she is both dressed and undressed; accessible to the viewer, yet unattainable: her waistline cinched, bosom  hoisted, and the garment’s design? Stark and architectural, like her surroundings. Of course, the iconography of other fetish accoutrements are also present: garters, seamed stockings with matching opera-length gloves of the same silky material, sewn into a stitch.

Even the model’s expression is exquisitely fetishistic: she emotes an elegant cruelty, the poised disdain of a divine villainess.  And why shouldn’t she?  Tell me, upon first  glance, did you happen to notice the gentleman splayed out behind her—a three piece-suited carcass suggestive of a slaughter?

My apologies.  If you’ve made it this far in my ramblings, I’ve probably committed the equivalent by boring you to death!


what you really want to see is:

Eva Herzigova, fully letting us have it in those latex tights…

(And I can’t say I blame you!)

Plagued!  Plagued I am—

Damned with an insistent urgency, this exhaustive need for further exploration.

Oh, how the definitive question remains, dangling like an empty clothes hanger:

Have I fetishized the designer’s fetishism?

9 Comment

  1. I’d like to know who wrote this article as I’d like reference them in a paper I’m writing on Thierry Mugler. If anyone knows please let me know:)

  2. I think that is among the most important info for me. And i’m satisfied reading your article. But want to statement on few general things, The website style is perfect, the articles is truly great : D. Good job, cheers

  3. Oh, how much I love “you all.” 40 thumbs’ up on Ye Olde Facebook? As absurd a form of validation that may be, I believe we’re all affected by it (to some extent). Truth be told, I’m having a mini-Sally Fields “They Like Me!” moment… keenly aware, however, of the verbiage in her refrain: “Right now, you really like me.” Whether it’s a matter of Goth Damage, old age, or both—life’s not unlike fashion: fleeting.

    BAH. In the name of black eyeliner and aspirational, mind-melding couture: please note that Gargamel is hereby swatting away the black clouds. (For fuck’s sake! I mean, really.)

    Let the Mutual Admiration Club commence!

    ffiend: It’s surprising how many people associate McQueen with theatrical shows, yet overlook his predecessor (Mugler…obviously). Don’t know if you had a chance to check out the post on my own blog, but if so: How fucking genius is that first video clip?! They all are, actually—but Debra Shaw in the insect show? The couture rubber “tyre” outfit? Hell, even the staging of his shows in the ’80s clip, with multiple models on the runway at the same time, all choreographed to the tits… Mad Admiration, I’ve got for it. Ah—and “brilliance,” by the way? Recognizes brilliance. (Thank you; thank you; thank you!)

    Alex: Have you seen ?
    (I joined flickr for the sole reason of being able to comment his images/ask permission for blogging…)

    Kirsten: Thanks, though unfortunately it’s not an option in my “impecunious state.” (The recession + freelance writing? NOT. A. PARTY.) What stings even more? Several of the copies I purchased at a bookstore that carries “remainders” (euphemism for: the publisher has decided to no longer keep in print—to save on warehouse storage fees, chop up & recycle, etc). I remember at least 5 of them I acquired at $9.99…& now? Ridiculous!

    Alcy: Agreed, & you know I “less than three” you, as well.


    Momatella: And I want to step dead-center into that impossibility, feel it crawl into me by the fingertips…

  4. I remember when I became studio librarian, finding Jared Gold’s amazing Thierry Mugler book–the one that has the Chrysler Building gargoyles, ridden like in-your-face menacing carousel animals. . . probably the most paradigm-altering (or maybe altaring) fashion/modeling/photography/location combination I have seen then or since! More startling than shocking, more elegant disdain in art rendering perfect beauty of face and couture as incongruously as possible—it somehow seemed to beg the question, “what are you staring at–*shrug*?” A touch of blase in the midst of impossibility–like great science fiction, sucking you into it’s red-tipped claws.
    There will always be a hunger in my soul to relive that experience!

  5. No, not at all! I have the same obsessive tendencies towards Mugler- I used to have a magazine with a huge pictorial spread of of a Mugler- clad Jerry Hall (if I remember correctly) on top of the art deco gargoyles of the Chrysler building, and it has been lost to the mists of time. I have searched for those images online, but to no avail. Sigh….

  6. You did not bore me at all!! I am have always been in love with Thierry Mugler’s fashion shows, the shows he put on in the 90’s, wow! he’s beyond brilliant and my fave before I even knew who Alexander McQueen was.

    Helmut Newton is also brilliant. You are brilliant for posting this 🙂