Who is Manfred?
Manfred Mugler is not only interesting for tattooistas because the so-called “Zombie Boy” walked the catwalk for him. Full body tattooed. Thierry Mugler is a master of physical transformation. In his creations, as well as his bodily self. Not so long ago he decided to transform himself from a thin Frenchfashion genius into a stout Berlin bodybuilder named “Manfred”. Steroids and Botox inclusive. He used his body as a canvas for artistic gesture and enjoyment. Mugler calls his perfume creations “Alien” – “Foreign, Extra-Terrestrial”. There are two versions of “Too Funky”, the music video from George Michael. In Thierry Mugler’s, the back of the model John Francis appears at the end. The words, “We Must Protect Ourselves” are tattooed there; which then continue on his chest: “Even From The Ones We Love”.
Tattoos are also a means of presenting yourself “differently”. More exciting, exclusive and aesthetic. The question remains, how far and ow intensely a person would like to go in their self-expression – so that they do not get lost. As well as the question: “Who is Manfred”?
The body as a surface, the total aestheticization of itself, all of it fits perfectly with Thierry Mugler’s art and fashion. Before that, Mugler staged the body cult of the 90s with clothes that he made from latex, aluminum and leather. They gave the bare skin the kick it needed. Amazons, cyborgs and superwomen emerged. Fashion designers were omnipresent and omnipotent during this period. Zeitgeist designer. Gaultier with Madonna, Mugler with George Michael. Sexy, sex and SM. Until the zeitgeist turned into a zombie. “Zombie Boy” died by his own hands in 2018. Did the free death of the “Zombie Boy” put an end to the celebration of physicality?
NO! But it stands as a warning that alienation can be taken too far. That you can take physical transformation too seriously and overlook the fact that it should and always remain a game. A game of seduction. In this case, fetishes and darkrooms do not mean an obsession, but a pleasurable game. Mugler is such a “playful” bird of paradise. The exhibition “Couturissime”, which can currently still bevisited in the Kunsthalle Munich, is a special reminder of this. After the “gloomy” vestibules, which immediately “get the exhibition moving” (with vehicle elements on the corsages and shiny tin masks for the ladies), the visitor enters the large room of seduction.
Mugler quotes in his fashionable creations the procedures of the animal world when it comes to sexually impressing the partner. If you take a closer look at animal sex, it becomes clear that it is by no means boring “flower sex”. Sex in the animal kingdom is exciting and thrilling, but sometimes also strange and bizarre. As if made for the artist Mugler. Magnificent feathers, horns, colored scales, all that and much more. Roman snails even shoot a love arrow into the partner’s body. Orgiastic interplay of matter and form. In this sense, tattoos are also a means of seductions. It seems that Mugler has lifted himself up on this transformation into “Manfred”. The path from fashion czar to bodybuilder seems bizarre at first glance.And yet it has its own logic in the “pleasure” of its protagonist. Mugler seems to feel good, on the dance floor in Berghain at half past four, and in the studios of the gay community in Berlin. In addition,Thierry Mugler does not let up in his art.