Inspiration in Isolation: The Role of the Muse

Clockwise from top left: Sophia Coppola; Tilda Swindon; Bianca Jagger; Julie Pelipas; Jane Birkin.
Clockwise from top left: Sophia Coppola; Tilda Swindon; Bianca Jagger; Julie Pelipas; Jane Birkin.

Now, more than ever, creative inspiration can lift us out of darkness and broaden our horizons.
With the frenzied treadmill of life – normally set to an impossibly steep incline - now stilled, we’re able, for the first time in a long time, to sit, think, reflect and dream.
In this period of quiet reflection, the experience of beauty takes on new meaning. Noticing beauty in the natural world, in the words of a poem or the curve of a sculpture, takes us out of ourselves and helps us to freeze a moment in time. Experiencing beauty becomes more than satisfying an immediate need; it goes beyond the here and now – giving access to a magnificent memory bank that is yours to call upon when you need it most.
As part of our focus on ways to #FindInspirationInIsolation, we’re going right to the root of the creative process and asking; what makes a muse? And, more specifically, what’s the importance of the muse for Three Graces London?
If fashion is the articulation of imagination in cloth – a drawing made in mid-air, and brought to life by its wearer – then a muse can be thought of as the catalyst; a kindred spirit that helps to steer and refine design.
For Three Graces’ Founder, Catherine Johnson, “having a muse in mind provides a touchstone to refer back to.”
Anytime the Three Graces team need to ignite their creative spark, they have a stellar cast of characters waiting in the wings. 
The studio values women with a distinctive point of view - women like Tilda Swinton and Sofia Coppola. “Sofia personifies elegance in everything she does,” explains Johnson. “She represents a natural beauty, where her wardrobe reflects the way she wants to live.”

"Now, more than ever, creative INSPIRATION can LIFT us out of darkness and broaden our HORIZONS."

Spirited Brits, with their irreverent and inventive sense of style, are a constant influence on the Three Graces aesthetic. Johnson loves “that feeling of being feminine - but not in a showy way. It’s cool, spontaneous. I think that effortless thing is quite uniquely British, and it’s something I want to champion and showcase through Three Graces.”
Whilst certain standout women might serve as conduits for creation, it’s the common qualities they signify, and the frame of mind they invoke, that really drives the label’s collections onwards.
“There’s a shared independent spirit - an intelligence. The women we admire are sentient, sophisticated, confident. None of them are trying to conform: they rely on their own natural wit and flair” says Johnson.
When the Three Graces team envisage the real women wearing their designs, it’s this individuality they return to: “it’s about having something to say, and what you’ve got to say being translated through your clothes. Truly great style is often a very personal thing.”

Clockwise from top left: Charlotte Ramplin; Lauren Hutton; Zoe Kravitz; Caroline De Maigret; Cate Blanchett.

Clockwise from top left: Charlotte Ramplin; Lauren Hutton; Zoe Kravitz; Caroline De Maigret; Cate Blanchett.

Karl Lagerfeld’s long-time muse and collaborator, Amanda Harlech, echoes the importance of a singular point of view, stating: “the fashion muse is anti-fashion; she helps to create a tide that can rip through everything we thought we wanted to wear and make us think again”.
This same inescapable connection between style and a strong sense of self means, ultimately, there’s no one Three Graces ‘look’: 
“I want my customer to be able to take our designs and make them their own. We’re trying to create a beautiful canvas for women to express themselves freely – a wardrobe that women can build upon. I’m not dictating to my customer, because I believe she already knows what suits her and how she wants to wear it – she is an individual.”
Forget about the male gaze – it’s the female gaze that Three Graces clothes are intended to capture. The brand works against the traditionally passive idea of the muse – decorative, on a pedestal, to be seen only through the eye of the beholder.
Unlike the lover scrutinised and depicted year after year by the obsessive artist, the women who inspire Three Graces (and who offer the brand a means to express that inspiration) are not static or silent. They have ambitions, complexities, character and a style of their own.
But what of the connection with ancient Greek mythology? (Zeus’ nine daughters were the original muses, presiding over human artistic inspiration. Even the brand moniker, ‘Three Graces’, references a Neoclassical sculpture of the goddesses of elegance, mirth and beauty.)
“For me, it goes back to that idea of sisterhood, and having access to a rich tapestry of uniquely talented women.”
“Ultimately”, explains Johnson; “our muse is constantly evolving. The qualities she represents transcend whatever period she’s living in, or whatever photograph she might appear in. That’s what gives her the power to carry our vision forwards and inspire not only our present, but our future too.”
Who, what or where helps you #FindInspirationInIsolation? Share inspirations and muses of your own with us on Instagram now using the hashtag.