The Power of the Fashion Muse

The story of relationships between artists and their muses is an old and well-know one. Creatives from all over the world have always been inspired and guided by other human beings: by their needs, their styles, their attitude or, simply, by the alchemy that sparked from their mutual relationship. Debra N. Mancoff, Adjunct Professor at the School of Art Institute of Chicago, investigated this parallel world of complex and fascinating ‘creative couples’ in a recently published book titled “Fashion Muse”.

The tome’s narrative is guided by photographs and drawings, which animate the lives of fashion muses throughout history: starting from ancient Greek goddesses to Charles Frederick Work – the very first couturier from 1800s – who created clothes inspired by his wife, up to Elsa Shiaparelli, inspired by an entire art movement, the Surrealism. Fashion designers’ muses can often change with the evolution of their style or, simply, life. Like Yves Saint Laurent, who praised different, yet equally bold, female characters, from Lou Lou De La Falaise to Betty Catroux. Madame Coco Chanel and Diane Von Furstenberg, on the other hand, have always been the inspiration for themselves meaning they didn’t really have another source of influence other than their own persona. “Fashion Muse”, published by Prestel, is a volume that aims to investigate the reality behind the flimsy idea of ‘inspiration’ – the life, the cultural and historical background, the origins of women, men and sometimes movements, who animated the creativity of fashion.

Francesca Crippa