In an ode to some fabulous brands, and their equally fabulous muses, we list some great fashion pieces, which have left an indelible mark on our consciousness...
By: Salman Z. Bukhari
Posted on: April 10, 2011
Humans inspiring humans in the journey of perfection and creativity in the pursuit of excellence - such is the story of muses. Artists and innovators over mankind’s existence have found their muse in men and women who have captivated their attention - some with their beauty, and others by their intelligence, talent or a sheer combination of everything worth inspiring.
Luxury, which is deeply rooted in the core foundations of craftsmanship, innovation, perfection and, above all things, exceptional beauty, has found inspiration in muses who embody these very values. Be it a princess, or a movie star, a singer, an aristocrat, or even the modern day blogger, muses can come from anywhere as long as they leave an indelible mark on culture and their surroundings becoming a part of history, defining and touching every aspect of our cultural fabric.
We take you through time and share stories of these extraordinary people and the impression they have left on famous luxury brands, and eventually our lives.
Legendary French luxury house Hermès’ famous handbag – the Birkin - is today a holy grail of handbags with its famous waiting list running into three years. Each Birkin is made to order, hand stitched meticulously until it gleams with perfection.
This celebrity of bags found its inspiration in English actress and singer Jane Birkin. Jane happened to be on a flight from Paris to London seated next to Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas when she complained to him about how impractical her Hermès bag was sans any compartments. She had no idea whom she was speaking to. And ‘voila’, the Hermès’ client turned into a muse and motivated the brand to create The Birkin bag. The rest as they say…is history!
Marc Jacobs Stam
American Designer Marc Jacobs is a force to reckon with in fashion, firstly as a lead designer for Louis Vuitton, and for his own quirky meets elegant Marc Jacobs’ line. He, in fact, has found many muses over the years who have led to him to create blockbuster handbags. One of them is the ‘Stam’, named after the designer’s close friend and Canadian Supermodel Jessica Stam. The bag features quilting and gold hardware similar to that of classic quilted Chanel bags, but differentiates itself with its relaxed look, gusseted frame and kiss-lock closure. Everyone in Hollywood has one!
Gucci’s Jackie Bag
The style icon of 1960s, Jackie Onassis, former first lady of America and first lady of fashion for an entire generation, took liking to the Gucci saddle bag while working as a consulting editor at Doubleday. And wherever she went, photographers followed. Eventually the brand ended up naming the bag after its famous patron calling it, The Jackie Bag. This famous handbag remains one of Gucci’s bestsellers and has stood the test of time, reproduced in many colours, fabrics, embellishments, but in the same classic shape, just as Jackie O would have liked it!
Immortalizing muses through bags started with the Hermès Kelly bag. This luxe de resistance was named after the famous Hollywood actress and Princess of Monaco - Grace Kelly when she appeared on the cover of Life magazine covering her baby bump from the paparazzi with this classic bag. The origins of the Kelly first appeared in its original form in the 1930s, but it wasn’t until 1956 that it truly became a star. With its smart tailored-shape, it evolved into a 1950s favourite during the Hollywood glamour years, and has enjoyed an iconic status ever since, making it the ultimate ‘it’ bag inspired by the ultimate ‘it’ muse.
Marc Jacobs BB
In an ultimate acknowledgement to the power of digital age and its influence over the fashion universe, Marc Jacobs paid tribute to Filipino fashion blogger Bryan Boy by naming his lush Ostrich leather unstructured bag showcased last year as ‘BB’ - short for his new friend, flamboyant BryanBoy, who has captured his online audiences and in turn gained the respect of leading luxury and fashion brands.
Louis Vuitton Stephen Sprouse
Art inspires art. And what can be a better example than the entire line dedicated by Louis Vuitton in 2009 in memory of the creativity of the late American graffiti artist Stephen Sprouse. In what was seen as a bold move by this iconic French luxury brand’s designer Marc Jacobs, freshness and youthfulness was breathed into the classic monogram canvas when he decided to revisit his past collaboration with Sprouse in 2001. While some purists called the act defacing of history, many more rushed to book their Louis Vuitton Stephen Sprouse pumps with the graffiti flower motif, the stylish and functional gym set with the brand’s name scribbled in fluorescent colours, or the ever in vogue Keepall and Speedy which now sported a funky new look.
Dior’s Lady Dior
This one bag is what legends are made of. With cannage stitching and metallic charms which when placed on top of each other read Dior, Lady Dior single-handedly pushed the brand into the handbag business, all because of its royal muse. In September 1995, France’s first lady, Bernadette Chirac gifted Lady Diana Dior’s latest creation - an elegant black stitched leather bag. The Princess of Wales immediately fell in love with the bag and ordered it in every style. Its association with the most photographed woman in the world immediately cemented this bag’s place in fashion history. Lady Dior remains one of the most emblematic pieces by the luxury brand, seducing some of the most beautiful women in the world.
Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn
Hepburn and Givenchy first met in 1953 during the shoot of the film Sabrina. At that time, young Hubert de Givenchy was already the rising star of French couture, influenced by his mentor and friend Balenciaga. Audrey flew to Paris for an appointment with him to select a few pieces from his collection for her upcoming film, not knowing that it would be the beginning of one of the most important alliances and friendships of her life.
Sabrina won an Oscar for the costume designs, and Edith Head took all the credit. Embarrassed, Hepburn immediately called up Givenchy to apologize but the movie sent the business of the designer into fashion stratosphere. Givenchy created Audrey’s wardrobe for most of her movies and her personal collection thereafter. In fact, he even created a fragrance in 1957 for the actress named L’Interdit. Audrey loved her gift so much, that she insisted Givenchy to launch it. She even posed in the adverts which famously read "Once she was the only woman in the world allowed to wear this perfume. L’Interdit. Created by Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn.”
Hepburn refused to negotiate any compensation from Givenchy for using her name, a great artist and his muse - theirs was a story of inspiration and friendship.
Fabulously stylish and beautiful, Alexa Chung carries her Mulberry Alexa bag around with her everywhere. Who wouldn’t if something so gorgeous was named after them! The Mulberry Alexa handbag is based on a battered old classic Mulberry men’s bag which Alexa had been sporting before her own version was created by the brand. Versatile and an instant classic with its vintage satchel styling, the Mulberry Alexa is formal yet casual, structured and relaxed, selling out as soon as the handbag hit the stores in January 2010
Christian Louboutin Blake
Blake Lively’s insight into the fashion world is continuing to pay off because famous designer Christian Louboutin named a pair of his shoes after her.
"I went to (Louboutin’s) atelier and I was walking around, like every shoe here is so beautiful," Lively explained. "And I saw this one pair and I said, 'I've never seen anything like it.' He asked, 'Do you love it?' and I said, 'I want to sleep with it under my pillow every night!’”
That was when Louboutin told Blake, "We're naming it Blake then.” The black stiletto with multicoloured straps each sporting a matching button is as stylish as the famous TV show Gossip Girl star Blake Lively, who considers her own namesake Louboutins as her “greatest accomplishment”.