Why wear a single colour when you can wear dozens, one stacked atop the other in a scintillating spectrum? This seems to be the thought that underpinned Thierry Mugler’s S/S90 collection – a veritable celebration of the power of colour – of which a highly sought after jacket in rainbow striped leather, Loved by London-based designer Fred Butler, is just one irresistible example.
Mugler’s education in colour started early. Born in Strasbourg in 1948, he danced with the Rhine Opera from the age of 14 until he was 20, gaining a thorough education in theatricality and costume which would go on to inspire and influence his future collections, let alone the garments he made for himself.
"They were very colourful," he said once in an interview. "I remember I had an old army coat which trailed on the ground and a pair of trousers, dyed in all the colours of the rainbow. I would also wear a huge plastic orchid in my lapel and had an acid-green jacket with royal blue buttons in the form of stars." By 21, Mugler was dressing windows in Paris boutiques and designing the clothes to fill them too, so follows that by 25 he launched his own eponymous brand.
Rainbows would continue to pervade Mugler’s sartorial output, lending resplendent flair to his sculptural signature silhouettes – cinched of waist and towering of shoulder, with an uniquely upbeat sensuality.
We caught up with Fred to reflect on iridescence, growing envious of Katy Perry, and the “cosmic gifts from nature” that take her by surprise every time.
Why did you Love Thierry Mugler’s S/S90 rainbow jacket?
“I once saw a similar jacket in a vintage shop in New York City in 2001. Of course I couldn't afford it at the time, but I always regretted not buying it. Since then my friends randomly send me eBay links if another turns up – recently Katy Perry wore the dress and I had a massive pang of envy. This exquisite piece just appeared and I had to bite my fist. So the next best thing was to share the discovery.”
If it were yours, where would you wear this jacket?
“Pieces like this need to be preserved, so I'd probably hang it up like art to gaze and wonder at. But life is short and ultimately clothes should be enjoyed, so I'd give it a spin for special occasions!”
What is it about rainbows that you can't resist?
“They’re the most cosmic gift from nature. That surprise of one appearing in the sky is so exciting, every time. It's like a beam of uplifting energy from the higher forces to signal something special.”
If you had to choose just one colour as your favourite, which would it be and why?
“My absolute favourite colour is the complete spectrum at once – that iridescent foil. When an oily surface is mercurial and switches shades. You can't quite determine if it's pink, blue or mint green. It's alive. You can only appreciate it by eye, it doesn't photograph as well. You have to see it in the moment.”
Do you remember when you first started fully embracing the colour spectrum?
“When I was a kid I had a lampshade that was a rainbow in a blue cloud sky. There was a rainbow shooting star sticker on my wardrobe. Falling asleep and waking up to those planted the spectrum seed.”
Your favourite item of clothing in your wardrobe?
“My entire wardrobe is arranged in a spectrum. I couldn't isolate one item, it's the complete collection. There's an incredible rainbow tassel dress from Scott Ramsey Kyle's graduate collection and some early metallic As Four & Alistair Carr pieces that I treasure. I've been very lucky to have been gifted some exceptional handcrafted joys.”
The last thing you bought?
“A spinning crystal ‘Rainbow Maker’ for my friends birthday. It's a solar panel mechanism that sends spectrums flying around your room. It's the most essential home improvement if you don't already have one. Magic!”