Muses in the Fashion Industry

by Sarah Clark
Fashion School Review Columnist

March 15, 2006

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We always hear about muses in fashion magazines and other publications that document the lives of celebrities and socialites. But what exactly are muses and what job, if any, do they perform?

Muses are ubiquitous in the fashion world. Celebrity gossip columnists and fashion magazine writers often report on the comings or goings of chic-looking women who hold the mysterious title of muse to a particular designer. Sofia Coppola is said to be Marc Jacobs' muse. Many socialites are also thought to serve as muses, such as Brook de Ocampo for Galliano and Amanda Brooks for Tuleh.

What are Fashion Muses?

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What makes one qualified to pursue a career (if you can call it that) in fashion as a muse? Since most muses wear very expensive clothes and spend a lot of time finding just the right thing to wear, they are often very rich. It also helps if they are a celebrity or socialite, someone who is photographed often and who attends fashionable gatherings, such as high profile fundraisers and celebrity events like the Oscars.

"Job Duties" of Muses

Muses might also spend time around designers and their support staff. In a Time magazine article, writer Joel Stein quoted Amanda Brooks, official muse to Tuleh, as saying she frequents the design house several times a week to "...spread love to the seamstress, and the financial guy." According to Stein, Sofia Coppola does little more than "prancing around the studio" of Mr. Jacobs.

Fashion School Muses

That leads to the question of muses for fashion school students. Most students don't have connections with powerful, beautiful rich people. But that doesn't mean students can't have muses to inspire their designs during fashion school. Fashion students can find real life muses, or they can adopt a muse from the pages of fashion magazines. The purpose of a muse is to inspire, so whoever can do that, whether in person or in spirit, can serve as a muse. Of course some might like to have a more personal relationship with a muse, someone on whom they can model their clothes as well as discuss characteristics of a line or fabric.

Finally, if you're considering being a muse or starting a career in fashion and you aren't independently wealthy, you're probably better off going to fashion school. Most muses don't get paid a dime, although they do get to borrow lots of great clothes.


About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer specializing in career development and postsecondary education.

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