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Monday, April 2, 2012

I like to watch music videos while I’m at the gym. Isn’t that quaint? MTV doesn’t play many music videos these days. I remember when it did. The first video the network aired when it debuted right after midnight on August 1, 1981, was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.

The Buggles need to do a sequel called “The Real World Killed the Video Star.” Now that reality programming has taken over the airwaves, it’s hard to believe that it was MTV that unleashed it on us, not quite a full 11 years after the creation of music television. MTV first aired The Real World in 1992, calling it “…the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house and have their lives taped.” The opening credit narration urged, “Find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.” (The 27th season is set to air this summer.) Since then, we’ve gotten “real” — in an artificial, camera-conscious way — with hoarders, hunters, Hogans, has-beens, housewives, hip-hop hangers-on and huffers, just to name a few examples.

Maybe MTV will revolutionize television again by adding a dose of reality to its reality TV. The coming sixth season of MTV’s Jersey Shore could be much more interesting if it acknowledged the participants’ notoriety instead of continuing to pretend that they’re regular people. That didn’t even fly during the first season, when belligerent locals, drawn to the cameras like moths to the flame fame, picked fights with MTV’s self-described guidos and guidettes. Now the cameras can’t always avoid the crowds gathered outside the MTV shore house and the store where the stars “work.” With Snooki pregnant and The Situation drying out, this would be a great time to acknowledge that not one of the males of the house would ever manage to bring home a female from a club — no, not even a grenade — if it didn’t mean a few moments of potentially life-ruining TV time for the young lady in question. Though what I really want to see is the consummation of Pauly D’s and Vinny’s not-at-all-heterosexual-seeming bromance, followed by their wedding catered by Vinny’s mother. I envision the other castmates toasting the boys — who are my second-favorite love-match on reality TV; the No. 1 being Ice-T and my idol Coco, of course — with Ron-Ron juice served in red Solo cups.

All of this went through my mind while I was on the elliptical machine yesterday, after I abandoned MTV’s Jersey Shore rerun to flip through the gym’s 10 music-video channels. There’s a rap channel, a top 40 channel, an alternative channel, a dance channel and so on. For a time, it seemed I had found a channel devoted to hot ’80s-’90s French fashion designer Thierry Mugler. Mugler — both the man and the fashion house named for him, which he no longer works for — has had a comeback thanks to the music world. First, I saw Beyonce’s July 2009 “Sweet Dreams” video, in which she’s wearing an armor-like gold bodysuit and matching arm guards by Mugler. (He went on to design costumes for her tour.)

After Beyonce, the February 2010 video for “Imma Be” by the Black Eyed Peas came on. I’m not sure who designed Fergie’s leotard, but it’s Mugler-esque.

Fergie in a metallic leotard.

That was followed by Lady Gaga’s May/June 2009 “Paparazzi” video, in which Gaga wears a metal bodysuit from Mugler’s Spring/Summer 1991 collection.

Gaga in Mugler.

If George Michael’s 1992 “Too Funky” — directed and costumed by Mugler himself — had come on next, I might have wondered if someone was playing an elaborate April Fool’s Day prank on me. But the channel went back to normal, non-Mugler programming, so I had to run home to watch “Too Funky” on YouTube.

“Too Funky” has everything: the first music-video appearance of the “Paparazzi” bodysuit; my favorite supermodel, Linda Evangelista; and the fabulous profile of actress Rossy de Palma. It also features Mugler’s original motorcycle bustier, which he recreated for Beyonce after she saw it at the superhero-themed Costume Institute fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Click for photo source and more information.

It thrills me that the most futuristic looks today’s pop stars can find are designs from the 1990s. The late ’80s and early ’90s are the fashion era I remember most fondly. I occasionally worry that I exaggerate the greatness of it, the way everyone romanticizes the fashion/music/fun of his or her youth. And then I see that current-day divas are totally kissing 1991’s ass and I think, “Yeah, it WAS awesome.” The fact that Lady Gaga’s stylist, Nicola Formichetti, is heading the revived Mugler label — instead of starting his own brand — says it all.

I’ve always kept an eye out for vintage Mugler clothes, the way I do for other ’80s and ’90s designers such as Stephen Sprouse and Todd Oldham. I would have gotten this beaded Mugler jacket from my friend Evan Ross’s store Frock in 2008 if only the jacket’s bosom had aligned a wee bit better with mine.

Click for my original post.

But, for a long time, most vintage Mugler suits and jackets looked very dated, with their padded shoulders, nipped-in waists and hips accentuated by peplums. After all, one of Mugler’s muses was New York “It” girl Dianne Brill with her 40-24-39 figure, and It girls don’t come in that size anymore.

Dianne Brill in Mugler in 1994. Click for source.

Mugler’s couture division was shuttered in 2003 — a victim of changing tastes and big losses. Mugler started calling himself “Manfred Mugler” and got into bodybuilding and costume design. I thought we’d never wear the Mugler power suit again. That thought itself was a sign of things to come because there are two things I count on when it comes to style: “Fashion Repeats Itself” and “Never Is the Next New Thing™.” Exaggerated shoulders came back first. Now peplums are the hottest thing around. The (non-Mugler) 1992 leather jacket with peplum that I was dubious about after I got it on eBay in 2010 became one of my favorite things to wear in 2011.

Me in my (non-Mugler) vintage peplum jacket in October 2011. Click for original post.

And I accepted Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award for fine jewelry design while wearing a custom-made peplum dress by my gorgeous friend Stacy Lomman, a women’s ready-to-wear nominee.

Stacy and I at the Rising Star ceremony.

It’s definitely time to add an original Mugler to my collection of vintage clothes. There are plenty online that I’m looking at with a fresh eye. Here are just a few that I found.

Mugler suit. $475 on Etsy. Click to shop.

Mugler suit. $475 on Etsy. Click to shop.

Mugler jacket. $130 on Etsy. Click to shop.

Mugler suit. $475 at C. Madeleine's. Click to shop.

Mugler suit. $735 from C. Madeleine's. Click to shop.

Mugler pantsuit. $1,975 on eBay. Click to shop.

While I continue browsing, you can re-read my December 2011 Huffington Post story on peplums, or just enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at the “Too Funky” video.

Now that Mugler, shoulders and peplums are back, can we bring back outrageously glamorous, couture-wearing, strutting supermodels too? Please?

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25 Responses to “Musings on Music, Reality TV and Thierry Mugler”

  1. stacy says:

    Mugler was a God to me in the 80’s and is still one of my all-time favs! You wear the pieces so well!

  2. sulky kitten says:

    Your little peplum leather jacket is perfect on you! I can see you slinking around in either the red or the Zebra Mugler. Keep your bejewelled dainty paws off the pantsuit – that’s mine!

  3. Megan Mae says:

    What unique pieces. I wish I could snatch that black and red jacket straight through my computer screen. So cool. I love the severe hour glass shapes. Thanks for the heads up and history of this guy/brand.

  4. HelOnWheels
    Twitter: HelOnWheels
    says:

    I was just thinking how perfect Mugler’s designs are for the current trends! Thank you for writing this. Now I have to go and raid my mother’s collection of original Muglers!!!

  5. stacy says:

    Diane Brill still looks great! And Emma S. rocked that metal outfit way better than Gaga, but good for LadyG for bringing that back for the “millennial generation” to appreciate.

    I love that stupid line from the Real World… what happens when people stop being polite! LOL. I think they stopped a long time ago (well, the type of people they cast on they show, anyway).

    Vinny & PaulyD should get married. You need to make the rings!

  6. Tina says:

    Where to start…Vinny HAS to make an appearance on the Pauly D Project so that we can see him interact with Pauly’s OGs from home. Your NY Sports Club is only across the park and has WAY better channels than mine. WTF? Love the TM suit/jacket round up!

  7. Jean says:

    I recently found a flawless Mugler jacket at a Goodwill and gave it to a fashion blogger friend, the incomparable (and svelte) Style Crone, for her birthday. My waistline never was especially compliant, and is downright rebellious now. I was totally excited to see your selections and I can’t wait to see what you end up buying!!

    Love, Jean

  8. The Style Crone
    Twitter: judithstylecrone.com
    says:

    Can’t go wrong with a Mugler or a peplum.

  9. Rebecca says:

    I don’t watch music videos very often any more, but I watched them all the time in college. MTV still showed videos then!

  10. Sheila says:

    I love those nipped-in waists on the Mugler jackets – swoon! I had the mall knock-offs back in the day – I loved that big-hair, big shoulders, curvy hips look and rocked it for a few years.

  11. I arrived to the U.S. in 1994 and remember being fascinated by The Real World. That’s kind of funny because I hate reality tv now. In fact, I stay home all day but never once turn TV on. For real. I get my news from other people and from internet. I am not sure what it is but unless it’s AFV or some documentary on Netflix I can’t stay with it for more than a few minutes.
    On the other hand, I’ve recently joined gym and like you enjoy watching TV there :)
    Thanks for your comment, Wendy.
    xx
    maya

  12. mystyle says:

    Hi my dear-gorgeous post, I also love Mugler vintage and your picks are just fabulous, I really love your peplum leather jacket which was such an amazing purchase! xxx

  13. Faux Fuchsia says:

    I always think about Ivana marching down the run way frocked in pale pink Mugler after she left the Donald and reinvented herself with a bouffant do and a facelift….where do you store your clothes? Or are you like Jackie O and keep all the excess in a big storage shed off the island?? x

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      Most of them fit in my closets — I do have some evening gowns and fragile vintage in a storage place :-)

  14. qin says:

    the peplum is perfect

  15. Andrea says:

    amazing post dear! the videos are fabulous!

  16. drollgirl says:

    i LOVE your black and white outfit!

    i (literally) haven’t seen a music video in years. i don’t even know how to catch them on mtv — i guess i would go straight to youtube if i needed to see one!

    talk about quaint! lol

    and i miss the headbanger’s ball. those were the DAYS! (insert archie bunker song here!)

  17. maria says:

    pretty sure every woman needs a mugler in her life!

  18. Eli says:

    Well, I for the most part hate MTV, but do love their True Life tv show, which was the one beacon in their whole craptastic channel.

    Now, this post has made me regret ever selling that Thierry Mugler jacket I bought a few years ago at a thrift store, then sold on Ebay for much less than it was worth. Gosh I should have kept it. It looked pretty similar to the blue one on etsy you’ve posted.

  19. teddi says:

    wendy, you are funny! yeah reality tv is so fake. my guy says that it’s like fast food. you know it isn’t healthy, & bad for you, but you still eat the garbage. i really do like the buggles song. it was their only decent one, at least in my mind. i liked when it was featured in the movie empire records too. :)

  20. Tracy says:

    I just ordered a peplum tee from Zara. I don’t know if I can pull it off but I’m going to give it a try. All of these photos inspired me.

  21. Jyoti (Style-Delights)
    Twitter: styledelights
    says:

    I know! MTV should remove M from their brand!! Its just reality TV trashy yes, addictive – fo sho!! Hope you are having a wonderful day!

  22. Marti says:

    Love the black vintage peplum in the pic from 2011 do you know this is the first time I heard of Mugel I wasn’t as fashion concious back in the day. Ha probably because I was paying off the college loans
    Marti