After about 2 AM, when the free booze has run out, the best place to see fashion editors and stylists during Paris fashion week is the gay sex club Le Depot. There are cubicles for fucking in the basement, loads of young Arabs upstairs in the disco, and I had one of the best fucks of my life there. The police station next door used to be 80s fashion hero Thierry Mugler's space-age HQ. Old fashion dudes swear Mugler's own personal office had a door directly into the club.
At his peak, Thierry Mugler was obsessed with doing things on an extreme, massive scale. Mugler pioneered the concept of the catwalk as a branch of show business, regularly spending over $3m on a show in front of a crowd of up to 13,000. He based collections on comics, insects, Soviet iconography, video games, cyberspace, and being a motorcycle (the jackets were designed to look like engines.) He said he wanted his models to be bigger, taller and stronger than common mortals. Mugler had models flying down from the ceiling, there were lots of baddies and angels, female models dressed like transformers, and bodysuits made out of vinyl or leather or crystals.
By the 90s, Mugler only showed when he felt he had something new to say, and then he finally packed it in. Nowadays, he only resurfaces to design costumes for the likes of Cirque du Soieil's Las Vegas sex show Zumanity (which sounds awful) and Beyonce. There's also that famous picture online of him naked, with bulging muscles, seriously enlarged nipples and a massive vacuum-pumped penis. Naturally, I couldn't wait to talk to him.
Vice: Hello. Do you think it is important to have a range of outside interests to move fashion on?
Thierry Mugler: I think all that inspired a lot of people in the fashion biz. I just went further and was more honest about it, paying a real, true "homage" to what inspires me. Also, they didn't manage to succeed at taking each inspiration to the extreme. I did. That wasn't because of any sort of an education, I was just reading a lot of comic books, playing computer games, and watching movies.
The label was always odd and very sexual.
My clothes are sexy and avant-garde and as I wrote and said in Robert Altman's Prêt a Porter, "It's all about getting a great fuck, darling." I never wanted to be A Fashion Designer, but a director, which I was in fashion and now in showbiz. Also, I knew I was right.
Your mega-glamourous designs were always provocative. Were you trying to make some sort of cultural statement?
Before something becomes a "cultural statement" it is an expression.
One of your shows featured vogue guys before Madonna released Vogue or that film Paris is Burning came out. Why is nightclubbing such an important part of fashion?
People get to express themselves and release their instincts on the dance floor. Well, I do, you do, we all do it.
A lot of your early press was hostile. Was it proof to you that you were doing the right thing?
I ignored it. I always work first to astonish myself and for a few people I admire.
Your designs were so in-your-face and seemed to define a new way of being that they must have meant more to you than mere craft.
Definitely, it's always been about creating a mise-en-scène - in English, an everyday show.
Where does all your ambition come from?
I believe in God.