Arts & Entertainment, Fashion

Remembering André Leon Talley’s and Thierry Mugler’s iconic fashion legacies

Thierry Mugler, the iconic French designer, and André Leon Talley, the former creative director of Vogue, both passed away at the age of 73 last month. Both renowned for their work in the fashion industry, the loss of such great talents was tremendously felt by all those who knew them and their work. The McGill Tribune looks back at some of the most iconic pieces from both designers. 

Venus Dress – Isy Stevens

Venus Dress (

Without a doubt one of Mugler’s most legendary designs, The Venus Dress melds timeless elegance with Mugler’s signature architectural style. This shell-shaped gown embodies a powerful sense of femininity—fitting, considering that the late designer drew inspiration from Botecelli’s The Birth of Venus. Featuring a blush satin lining, matching gloves, and a sheer bodysuit, the piece was first modeled by Mugler’s longtime muse Simonetta Gianfelici at the designer’s 1995 couture show. In 2019, the gown re-emerged from the archives when American rapper Cardi B wore it to the Grammy Awards, delighting fans and fashion critics alike. The Venus Dress’s unwavering popularity throughout the decades is a true testament to the empowering nature of Mugler’s designs and his immeasurable reach across the fashion industry—both of which will continue to inspire for years to come. 

La Chimère – Suzanna Graham

La Chimère (

Unveiled in his haute couture Autumn/Winter 1997-98 show, La Chimère epitomizes avant-garde fashion. The creation is one of the most expensive dresses in fashion history, consisting of individually painted latex scales, bright feathers, and even animal hair. Designed in collaboration with Jean-Jacques Urcun and Mr. Pearl, a legendary corset maker, the dress caused quite a buzz upon its unveiling when it turned model Adriana Karembeu into a part fantasy, part fetish icon. The dress’ legendary status was confirmed during its feature in Mugler’s 2019 exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts—it remained the most popular exhibit in Canada that year. Although bizarre and garish, Mugler’s garment exudes an air of power. The gold corset—a historically restrictive item—appears as armor, transforming it into a symbol of bodily and sexual autonomy. In this sense, La Chimère’s otherworldliness combines Mugler’s fantastical imagination and empowering ideals into a mythical being. 

Andre Leon Talley – Ella Gomes

His Own Personal Style

Throughout his work as Vogue’s first Black creative director, some of André Leon Talley’s most iconic outfits are the ones that he styled for himself. In his later years, the extravagant designer was rarely seen without a gloriously patterned caftan to spice up a classic suit. During his youth, Talley already had a knack for expressive dressing, favouring timeless pieces inspired by the fashions of those he admired: the Kennedys, the models gracing the pages of Vogue, and, most significantly, his own grandmother. Growing up in the Jim Crow south, flipping through fashion magazines and perfecting his own style served as an escape from the world around him. As he navigated the fashion industry, Talley often donned exquisite dress wear, including cable knee socks and dapper suits—a look that Talley would later refer to as his “armor” against the racism and bigotry he faced during his rise to prominence in the predominantly white industry. Throughout his career, which was marked by his eloquent writing and sharp knowledge of fashion history, Talley continued pushing to expand representation both on the runways and in the ateliers.

André Leon Talley was one fly guy. (

“Little Black Dress” 

While Talley was most known for his long-running career in the field of fashion journalism, his passion for museum curation was palpable in every exhibition he put on. In 2012, at his eponymous gallery in the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Museum of Art, Talley curated the “Little Black Dress” exhibition, housing iconic black dresses donated by the likes of Vera Wang, Rihanna, and Marc Jacobs. A majority of the donations came from Talley’s close friends in the industry, demonstrating his incomparable ability to connect with others through glamorous photoshoots or casual conversation. In discussing his inspiration for the show’s theme, Talley professed that “The little black dress expresses a moment of freedom and individuality every time.” A proud presenter of SCAD’s André Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award in Fashion, Talley maintained a close relationship with the college, fueled by his passion to support young creative voices of colour from his same southern roots.

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