In Greek mythology Zeus laid for nine nights with Mnemosyne, the Titaness of memory to create nine very intelligent, beautiful and careless divinities - each Muse was responsible for a different literary or poetic genre: Epic poetry, History, Love poetry, Song, Tragedy, Hymns, Dance, Comedy, and Astronomy.
The Muses were meant to make the world forget evil
and sorrows and to praise the gods. Apollo was the main teacher of the Muses; they were usually accompanying him on their strolls and loved singing and dancing on soft feet on laurel leaves, while Apollo was playing the lyre.
Many authors have invoked the Muses when writing, and are featured in many great works of art from The Odyssey (Homer) to Paradise Lost (John Milton).
But this post is not a history lesson. Muses are meant to inspire and fuel creation of beautiful things. Everyone should have a Muse, or even two.
I know I have Muses- even though I am no great poet, or scientist. My Muses are necessarily famous people or even people. Which begs the question was is a Muse? I'm apt to say that a Muse is anyone- or thing- that inspires you to see beauty. Can a city be a Muse? Why not? And so here is my list of Muses:
Dorothy Gale/ Grandma
My Grandmother was always inspired by the protagonist of The Wizard of Oz, and in turn my grandmother always inspired me. I wrote my admissions essay "the person who means the most to me" about her after she passed away when I was in high school. Dorothy Anita Dudley was born in Northern Canada in the 1920s, and picked up and moved to Seattle with her best friend when she turned 18. It was in Seattle, while waiting tables, that she met my Grandfather just before he shipped out for the Korean War. Sly fox that she was, she managed to get his contact info and wrote him every week while he was away. I don't think he ever wrote her back, but he must have since she found out his ship was coming back to port. She rode down to the docks and waited for him and they were together ever since. He still visits her grave every week to leave fresh roses. Now that's a true love story. Dorothy (Dot when my grandfather was mad) got me interested in fashion, and I'm pretty sure she alone kept Nordstrom from going bankrupt in the 80s. She was never afriad of color- she often would create an outfit out of a single color, giving the effect that she was pulled from a box of crayons. Her and I share the same coloring (dark hair/eyes, pale skin) so in a way she was teaching me how to rock bold styles and be fierce. But getting back to Dorothy Gale, besides sharing the same name (we are big on literature names in this family) she shared a love of poppies with the character. I also grew to love poppies, their elegant stems, and their pop of brilliant color, and they flower meaning. Love them so much I got them tattooed on my ribs.
And now for a real 180 degree turn. Veronica Varlow is one of the most beautiful women in the world. She embraces her feminity while pushing back through burlesque. She is a true icon of what a woman should be. Sensual, strong, and proud of her assets. When people thing of modern burlesque they always come up with Dita Von Teese. But my mind will always go to Veronica Varlow, who still flies under the radar, and remains an authentic American Dame. You can find out more about the Danger Dame on her website.
Northampton/ New England
This one is a little odd, but my biggest inspiration in my twenties has been my new life in New England. Something about the brick buildings, classic styles, and timeless coastlines have got my new style sense turning. I came to New England a punk rock hippy who didn't care what people thought of my appearance. I'm very glad to be leaving New England (big maybe at the moment) someone who with a true sense of style, that will reflect back on me when I look back on my photos 50 years from now. Without New England I would never have experienced the rugby shirt, madras, cableknit sweaters, trench coats, or pearls. Things that just do not fly in the Pacific Northwest. The seasons here mold my closet. From pulling out the thick sweaters for Fall, to the boat shoes for Summer. New England has made my closet grow up.
Currently, the Duchess may just be the most popular Muse worldwide. Always on the radar for her classic style and budget-conscience closet in England, her popularity soared after her engagement and marriage to Prince William. Even though she has an arsenal of stylists and royal privileges, she continues to shop as Asos and other middle-market shops. She is a classic beauty, and her clothing choices reflect her country-chic aesthetic. She is as at home in the highlands of the UK, and she is at the castle her children will one day hold court in.
The most famous American debutante is also one of the most cited Muses for fashionistas. The blue-blooded Vassar grad can be credited with popularizing Lilly Pulitzers classic shifts, Jack Rodgers sandals, trench coats, oversize sunglasses, and pearls with everything.
Why pick Mamie as a Muse? The strong-willed, bitchy first lady had it going on in the style department. A lover of pink, she even had a sweet shade names after her. While she was wife to one of the top generals int eh country, Dwight, she made sure their home- even if it was the White House- felt like a home. Their bedroom decor was pink and green rose florals everywhere. Isn't if funny to think of such a masculine manly-man President sleeping in a room that looked like a flower shop puked up? I think so too.
Last but not least, Lilly Pulitzer is one of my new favorite Muses. The socialite who fled New York City with her husband after eloping eventually became the Queen of Prep. Her cute, patterned shifts gained national attention after Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was photographed in one for Time Magazine. Still kicking, Lilly continues to inspire preps all over the US with her love of bright colors and classic styles.
Last but certainly not least, I want to cite two of my best friends as Muses. Christine and Sarah have both inspired and challenged my taste in clothes and general style. Christine has helped tame my fierce style, while Sarah introduced my to the world of "prep". I want to thank Christine for obliging my many photoshoots while college roommates. And I want to thank Sarah for keeping up with me on our shopping sprees.