Thierry Mugler's Life in Photos

Thierry Mugler's Changing Looks

With model and designer Dianne Brill in New York City in 1989.

Later in life, Mugler suffered a series of accidents that permanently changed the look of his face. He "destroyed" his nose in a Jeep crash, he recalled to Interview, and had bone from his hip put into his chin after a motorcycle accident.

"I wanted my face to represent progress," he told Interview, "because after years of being a thin, charming dancer, I wanted to be a warrior. I've done so much in my life. I've fought so much. I'm a superhero, so it's normal to have the face of one."

Thierry Mugler's Early Life

Born on Dec. 21, 1948, in Strasbourg, France, Manfred Thierry Mugler actually got his start in dance, joining the Ballet du Rhin before picking up design in the 1970s.

Dance "showed me that there are no limits," he said in a 2019 chat with Tippi Hedren for Interview magazine. "I never say I'm a fashion designer. I've always felt like a director, and the clothes I did were a direction of the every day."

Thierry Mugler and Iman

Mugler's clothes were buzzy, though: the designer (here with friend and supermodel Iman in New York City in 1989) had a flair for the avant garde and architectural, and a vision for a future beyond the runway.

"Why would anyone only want fashion?" he said in his 2019 Interview piece. "There are the costumes, but there's also the environment, the lights, the movement. The music, the sets, the light, the attitudes — it all helped to tell my story."

Thierry Mugler and Jerry Hall

With Jerry Hall at the 1995 VH1 Fashion and Music Awards in N.Y.C.

"I was looking for something that didn't exist," he said of his one-of-a-kind designs in a 2008 interview with T Magazine. "I have to try to create my own world."

Thierry Mugler's Fashion Shows

"His runway shows were the most legendary and iconic runway shows ever," Kim Kardashian told PEOPLE in 2019. Here, Mugler poses during the finale of a January 1999 show.

Many in the fashion world would most recall his 1995 haute couture show, held for the label's 20th anniversary at the Cirque D'Hiver in Paris. Models including Naomi Campbell, Jerry Hall and Kate Moss walked the runway, along with actress and muse Tippi Hedren in a dress inspired by her role in The Birds. A performance by James Brown ended the show.

Model Violeta Sanchez, who was among the models who showcased 300 stunning looks, called it "the Woodstock of fashion" to the New York Times.

In 2002, Mugler retired from fashion, though revived his brand as Mugler in 2010, with Nicola Formichetti at the helm.

Thierry Mugler and Diana Ross

Mugler's famous friendships and relationships ran deep: aside from creating for models like Iman and superstars like Diana Ross (pictured), he came out of retirement once in a while to design for Beyoncé's 2009 I Am ... world tour, several Lady Gaga videos and Kim Kardashian's iconic 2019 Met Gala moment. He also opened his fashion archives, most notably to Cardi B in recent years.

"It's a full vision from, you know, hair to nails to everything," Kardashian told PEOPLE of his red carpet mentality.

Thierry Mugler Fragrances

He also expanded his brand into beauty in 1992, with ever-growing lines of men's and women's fragrances (Angel, Alien, A*Men and Aura among them). Naomi Watts and Eva Mendes, pictured, were among the celebs who served as faces of the campaigns.

Global president of Mugler Fashion & Fragrance, Sandrine Groslier, remembered Mugler as a "genius" in a Jan. 24 statement. "[He] revolutionized the world of fashion, fragrances, photography and staging. An artist for whom the limit was no limit. An exceptionally talented, visionary and inclusive genius," Groslier wrote. "Beyond being a creator with infinite energy and a boundless sense of creativity, I wish above all to pay tribute to the sensitive, generous and sincere man."

Thierry Mugler's Fashion Ballet

In 2019, Mugler joined forces with choreographer Wayne McGregor (left) to direct something he'd dreamed of: a dance-fashion fusion presentation called McGregor and Mugler at The London Coliseum.

Thierry Mugler and Kim Kardashian

That same year, he was honored with an installation at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where Kim Kardashian joined him for the opening. He called his muse's ensemble "Back to the Future Venus" in a Facebook post from the evening.

Thierry Mugler's Later Years

In his later years, before his death on Jan. 23 at 73 years old, Mugler was at work transforming his body, he told Interview.

"I have always been fascinated by the human body, and I wanted to pay homage to what it can do," he said. "For me, it's all about exploring. It's been a very natural process. I think it's important for people to be a complete realization of themselves."

French fashion designer Manfred Thierry Mugler — known for his over-the-top celeb-loved looks — died on Jan. 23 at the age of 73