Of course, there are always muses, passing by the tempting contracts from one brand to another. But the muse, the real one, this feminine alter ego which inspires its life during a creator, like Loulou de la Falaise was it for Yves Saint Laurent, is not more.

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It was a night owl and a beast of fashion. “A rare species, a prodigy of evolution,” said her friend Lauren Hutton. His plumage delighted the whole of Paris, and first and foremost Yves Saint Laurent, who had snatched her from his bohemian life to have him always close to him. Every morning, for thirty years, Loulou de la Falaise arrived at avenue Marceau in a clash of charms to occupy with the couturier a place that was never explicitly defined: she wore her clothes, drew her accessories, inspired her collections. She jostled him, too, distracted him from his depression. A book to appear October 14 at Rizzoli (1) is about the influence of this English girl disappeared in 2011, who had with Yves Saint Laurent a relationship of “old couple”. “Not a day goes by without marveling at her,” he said.


It can not be learned in schools, and yet it is a profession, as old as sewing itself. “The creators have always needed feminine alter ego,” says the American historian Debra N. Mancoff, author of a book on the muses. (2) Karl Lagerfeld summed it up well by saying: “Of course I I have muses, I do not wear dresses! “” If beauty does not harm, it is neither necessary nor sufficient. “There have been models, but also actresses, dancers, journalists, artists, their profiles are surprisingly diverse.” Their degrees of involvement too. Like Loulou de la Falaise, some work side by side with the creators, in gray eminences: closer to us, this is the case of the stylist Carine Roitfeld, credited with orchestrating the revival of Gucci in the shadow of Tom Ford. Others, absorbed by their own careers, keep a certain distance, as formerly Audrey Hepburn, the eternal muse Givenchy, or today the filmmaker Sofia Coppola, who never ceases to inspire Marc Jacobs. In all cases, the relationship is of the fusion type.

Their function was canonized in the 1850s by the father of haute couture, Charles Frederick Worth. The first craftsman to dictate fashion rather than satisfy demand, this young Englishman emigrated to Paris took the habit of draping his models on a “shop lady” of which he was in love. Marie Vernet, who became his wife, was the first living model in history, parading for clients and social gatherings in the dresses he imagined for her. Catalyst, model, ambassador: the specifications of the muse was born. This role fell first to the wives. “Denise is the inspirer of all my creations and the expression of all my ideals,” said Paul Poiret of the mother of his five children. In the eyes of fashion designer Jacques Fath, his wife, Geneviève, embodied the dream client, “the best of Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Carole Lombard together”.

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n the post-war period, Christian Dior and his friend Mitzah Bricard reinvent the formula out of the bonds of marriage. Responsible for making hats, this fanatic leopard pattern inspires the inventor of the “new look” essential codes of his brand. At the same time, a young American actress knocked on the door of Hubert de Givenchy to ask him to dress Sabrina, the eponymous heroine of the film she shot in Paris. Surprise: the announced “Miss Hepburn” is not Katharine, as he thought, but Audrey, a girl in a cigarette and gondolier hat. This is the beginning of a forty-year collaboration that Givenchy describes as “a special kind of love affair”: the fashion designer dresses him in the city and on the stage and calls him four times a week. At this time, the muses are still souls. Yves Saint Laurent’s muses are part of this tradition, says Debra N. Mancoff, who met Betty Catroux in a nightclub and Loulou de la Falaise at a party in Morocco. they were friends. “ The arrival of Amanda Harlech at Chanel, in 1996, opens a new era. Freshly divorced, John Galliano’s historic muse needs money. Now, Karl Lagerfeld offers him a suite at the Ritz and a golden bridge. Galliano feels betrayed, but how can he blame him? Fashion is going faster, its rules have changed. The creators too have become fickle, always looking for new icons, new inspirations. Lagerfeld is the leader of this revolution: from Ines de la Fressange to Zahia via Anna Mouglalis, Diane Kruger and Vanessa Paradis (to name only the tenth), the muses of the Cambon street form a swarm in perpetual motion . Even the faithful Marc Jacobs invites the muses of circumstance to join his friends of always in his stable. Everywhere is the reign of the ephemeral. Alexa Chung joined Longchamp last year after being the muse of Maje, who chose Lou Doillon this year, who left Chloé, who made Clémence Poesy the image of her perfumes. Hard to believe in the sincerity of these teams of a season.

Some irreducible yet cling to the old model, like the creators Rick Owens and Christophe Lemaire, in a relationship with their muse. Against the current, the Lebanese designer Rabih Kayrouz is developing his young Parisian home with the dedicated support of his partner Constance Rebholz, a former collaborator of Loulou de la Falaise. This 30-year-old woman who claims to be “not obsessed with fashion” is perhaps the last of the muses in the historical sense. “To please women, I start by pleasing her, I make her dresses,” said the couturier, “she inspires me, but not only: she challenges me, she completes me.” The girl does not like the term “muse”, too much used. “I’m not a coat rack, we do everything, we both have our hands dirty.” If they had not met, she would be “the muse of nobody,” she says. In these days, it’s like believing in eternal love.