The art world tends to go by a fairly antiquated definition of the word muse. According to art writer Germaine Greer, a muse is “the feminine part of the male artist … She is the anima to his animus, the yin to his yang, except that, in a reversal of gender roles, she penetrates or inspires him and he gestates and brings forth, from the womb of the mind.”
In the fashion realm, a muse often takes the form of a model or cultural icon with je ne sais quoi for days — and a major sense of style to match. (For Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing that person is Kim Kardashian, for Jeremy Scott it’s Soo Joo Park.) With a myriad of beautiful and intriguing women to dress, designers rarely limit themselves to just one or two muses. These days, most creative directors boast an ever-rotating #squad.
That said, often the figures that inspire the most glorious, career-making designs — pieces that border on works of art — aren’t just possessors of mystique, but artists themselves. Throughout history, the special relationship between the same-but-different worlds of fashion and art has taken physical form in the connections between these designers and their talented muses. In such relationships, gender, physical appearance and even proximity are nonissues. All that matters is whether or not creative sparks fly.
Click through the slideshow above to enter the minds of five famed designers and the artist muses who were — and in some cases, still are — central to their careers.