Site icon The SR66 Report

The Story of a Mao Styled Jacket and “The End of History”

Today I’d like to talk about fashion. We just heard that Manfred Thierry Mugler died at the age of 73. As I was taking my breakfast this morning and heard this news, many thoughts went through my mind and brought me back to these 80s and 90s, which were decades of intense turbulence and confusion. 

Seen through the lens of the year 2022, that period that covered 1980 to 1990 seemed full of movement, transformation and pivotal historical events, at least through the eyes of someone like me who had just graduated from business school in Europe and went on to live his life in the Middle East in one of the most advanced financial centers in the Arabian Persian Gulf. This was the decade of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Helmut Schmidt, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ayatollah Khmomeiny. The decade also witnessed the start of a bloody 7 year war between Iran and Iraq. This was also the decade that gave birth at the beginning of the 90’s to a statement that would remain famous for the coming decades. Francis Fukuyama argued without any hesitation that humanity had attained “not just … the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: That is, the end-point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” 

So when I heard that Thierry Mugler had died, my thoughts immediately brought me back to that period of the 80s. You might think that talking about fashion sounds futile and useless in comparison to the transformations that were taking place in many parts of the world at that time. However I couldn’t help but think about that incident that took place in 1985 when in the French National Assembly, the then Minister of Culture, Jack Lang showed up with a jacket designed precisely by Thierry Mugler. That jacket was very special because it had the collar designed according to the Chinese style, and it was known as Mao style. The jacket caused a huge uproar within the ranks of the national assembly and among the deputies. It was judged indecent and not appropriate to the function. Back then, I had just spent few years in Bahrain in the Persian Arabian Gulf and was about to return there for few more years after 1 year in Paris. I had seen the diversity of costumes and dresses that men and women could wear from all parts of the world. This is a part of the world where many nations, many cultures lived next to each others, and which is far from the clichés that are attached to it. So it made me think about that common costume that men wear all around the world and about the tie that men have to wear around our neck. And up to this day I keep wondering why this costume is so widespread and accepted as a standard. What if business meetings were taking place around the world where every one could wear their traditional clothing without having to conform to a standard that has nothing to do with their own culture. Perhaps this could spread faster than we think with the virtual meetings that we are so used to have now in this after COVID world. So that’s what went through my mind when I heard about Thierry Mugler’s death. And certainly, this is the reason why he collaborated so tightly with major stars like Beyonce or Lady Gaga. 

So I would like to open that debate my friends and hear your thoughts about that topic. 

You can also hear other podcast posts by clicking here.

Exit mobile version