What makes a fashion designer fall under the spell of a muse and how does this enigmatic devotion inspire, delight and enthuse?
If falling in love can be described as having butterflies in your stomach, day-dreaming about the object of your affection, looking to them for guidance and sharing mutual respect and admiration, then the relationship between muse and designer mirrors that of two star-crossed lovers.
Karl Lagerfeld rarely misses a new muse promise and his wandering eye is always looking for the next best thing. But he doesn’t only handpick his muses according to looks; it’s about a woman that has a certain something that makes her different, a trait that defies trends, age and convention. He adores songstress Florence Welch, with her flame-red hair and vintage style, so much that she performed during his spring summer 2012 show; outspoken Brit Lily Allen and her combination of sneakers and a ball gown caught his attention in 2009 after which he cast her in an ad campaign; the classic Parisian chic of the 54-year old ex-model Ines de la Fressange is another Karl favourite and the authentic all-American girl persona of Blake Lively left him so mesmerized that he used her as the face of Chanel’s Mademoiselle handbag range.
Lagerfeld isn’t the only designer who loves his muses, when Renée Zellweger takes to the red carpet she will most probably wear the chic femininity of Carolina Herrera and quirky Sofia Coppola is a Marc Jacobs girl through and through. Kate Moss is probably the most famous muse of them all and enjoys suitors by the dozen, from Stella McCartney to John Galliano, but it was the late Alexander McQueen, who famously ran all his designs past her expert eye, who truly held the key to her heart.
Even though mystery is what makes a modern day muse compelling, it’s her strong conviction in style and character that adds balance and reason to an otherwise elusive promise of je ne sais quoi.
Florence Welch and Lily Allen photographed by Karl Lagerfeld.