What is a muse? The definition is "one who inspires a designer or artist." Marc and Sofia, Ricardo and Kim... fashion designer muses have been around since the beginning of ready to wear. They've inspired and ignited countless looks, and their je nais se quoi has touched thousands, if not millions, of bodies. They've been around for a while and have managed to become more relevant now than ever. Social media has brought democracy to fashion stardom and influencers are continually inventing looks that have roots in the past. If you think about it, fashion has been recycling for a while. Sure, lots of different things are happening on the runways, but for the most part they're amalgamations and mutations of fashion history and past muses. One might even argue that the best looks on Instagram are inspired by multiple muses. David Bowie meets Edie Sedgwick, Liz Taylor meets Ali McGraw... the combinations are endless and so are the possibilities. In the fashion world, everything old is new again, including muses. So, in honor of Valentine's Day, we're paying tribute to the most enduring love affair: that between fashion designers and their muses. Here are our top five favorite designer-muse pairings.
The daughter of Hermes bag namesake, Jane Birkin, Charlotte Gainsbourg grew up surrounded by creativity. The actress has her own brand of effortless chic, and it's easy to see why she's the quintessential modern muse. Her artfully messed hair, minimal makeup, and lithe frame provide the perfect canvas for Ghesquiere's avant garde looks. Ghesquiere's aesthetic runs the gamut between sporty and other-worldly, and the Louis Vuitton creative director is known for his bold styling and silhouettes. It's easy to see why this designer-muse pairing endures... after all, such precision tailoring needs to be counterbalanced by something slightly undone.
Sofia Coppola sought out Marc Jacobs in 1992, shortly after he debuted his much-maligned but iconic Perry Ellis Grunge collection. She felt as though she understood his work and they instantly hit it off. Jacobs has frequently praised Coppola's brand of effortless chic, and she pulls off his vintage-inspired looks perfectly. Their long-standing friendship has resulted in professional collaborations, and she directed the commercial for his Daisy Dream fragrance. Coppola also presented Jacobs with his Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 CFDA Awards.
Long-time friends, this designer-muse pair remained friends throughout their lives. Loulou de la Falaise had an ephemeral look that perfectly suited Laurent's renditions of modern womanhood. De la Falaise was a style chameleon who was known for her influence on YSL's legendary Le Smoking jacket. De la Falaise was also by his side during the heady atmosphere of the Paris fashion scene in the 1960s and 70s. A creative in her own right, she had her own clothing line later in life and also designed costume jewelry for Oscar de la Renta. No matter which costume du jour she donned, de la Falaise was immaculate in her styling and inspired legions of looks.
They've been described as perfectly matched, and their relationship spanned decades. Isabell Blow discovered Alexander McQueen at his final MFA show at Central Saint Martins. In fact, the editor was so impressed by what she saw that she bought the entire collection. The two became inseparable and were both known for their unorthodox larger-than-life personalities. The pair grew apart after Givenchy, where he was creative director, was bought out by Kering Group. Blow felt that McQueen forgot about her as he rose to stardom. She committed suicide in 2007, and McQueen killed himself in 2011. As of early 2017, the ill-fated pair's tumultuous relationship is being made into a film entitled The Ripper, named after the legendary graduate collection purchased by Blow.
Lagerfeld has had many muses throughout his career, but our favorite is Vanessa Paradis. The French songstress has a gamine look that's perfect for Chanel's frothy bias-cut gowns. When she dons them, she looks as though she has come straight out of a 1920s Parisian street. The two met in 1991 and have remained friends ever since. The designer-muse inspiration has continued to the next generation, and Paradis' daughter with Johnny Depp, Lily Rose, has recently appeared in multiple Chanel advertisements and fashion shows. These fashion designer muses continue to impact style as we know it. They deserve to be remembered, both for who they are/were and how they've styled their identities. Perhaps we could all use muses in the design of our daily lives, to inspire us to live artfully and present ourselves thoughtfully. After all, good style is one of the keys to joie de vivre, right?