Audrey Hepburn and Givenchy. Sofia Coppola and Marc Jacobs. Cholë Sevigny and Proenza Schouler. Kate Moss and Calvin Klein. I sometimes think of the relationship between designer and muse like a slinky tumbling down a set of stairs. Each end of the slinky is equally pulling the other forward, or in the case of a muse/designer, pushing the other further creatively. Both parties involved are equally needed to create any lasting momentum.
This creative collaboration and momentum is the crux of the relationship between model Alyssa Miller and Margaret Kleveland and Katherine Kleveland, the founders of the clothing line, Dôen. What started out as a muse / designer relationship has gained momentum and morphed into a creative collaboration that has produced the Bébé Bag and a lasting friendship.
We asked all participants involved to talk a bit more about how they approach the muse / designer relationship and of course couldn’t pass up the opportunity of shooting Alyssa in a few Dôen creations at her home in Los Angeles. And the best news yet, Doen is now offering a $15 flat shipping rate (duties and taxes excluded) to France along with customer service emails in French. You can find them in French at firstname.lastname@example.org. Vive la muse!
Can you talk a bit about your relationship with each other as collaborators and as a muse?
Margaret & Katherine :
Collaborating with Pilgrim on the Bébé Bag was such a natural, easy, and inspiring process. Alyssa is one of the hardest workers we know – she wears many, many hats! We already were in awe of her and the life she created for herself, and working with her in this way has taken this admiration to completely new levels. We feel deeply lucky to know her and are so proud of the business she has created – being able to be a tiny part of that story has been the most rewarding experience.
It all happened very organically. I came across their brand and was immediately a big fan. It was obvious my lifestyle and aesthetic was perfectly in line with their own. We all started chatting and they ended up traveling to Texas, where I was living at the time, to shoot with me. They were such lovely, funny, strong, smart, and real women, I knew I wanted them in my life and that they were very much worth cultivating relationships with. I’ve since moved to LA where we all get to see each other much more often and spend time together as friends, as well as supporting each others businesses. I suggested that we collaborate on the Bebe bag and we decided to go for it. It took a tremendous amount of trust on their end, that I will be forever grateful for. I have so much love and respect for them and it’s truly been a breath of fresh air to find these types of connections in a very fast paced, on to the next, type of business.
The idea of a ‘muse‘ has such a storied past. Why is the idea of a muse (and an actual muse, such as Alyssa) so important to you when designing for Doen?
Margaret & Katherine:
Designing with actual muses in mind is so important because we are always striving to design for real life women. Moms playing legos on the floor, CEOs in the workforce, teachers educating the next generation, and women going through different stages of life wanting to feel natural and beautiful in all of these little and big moments. Taking all of these women into consideration when designing and building our brand is, at the core, what is most important to DÔEN.
What about Alyssa, in particular, do you hope to translate to the Doen brand?
Margaret & Katherine:
Alyssa is an effortless, confident, and real woman. She cares deeply and has passion running through her – around animals, politics, women’s rights, her friends – mixed with the softest and kindest soul. She knows herself through and through and is comfy in her own skin, which we think resonates with our brand and customer. You can feel feminine, natural, strong, soft, powerful, and playful all mixed in one, and we want to support you by providing pieces for your every day.
I tend to lean towards very structured shapes, and most of that comes from my favorite travel photos from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I love photos of the Rolling Stones traveling on private jets with chic, interesting women. Flight attendants in the 60’s with their hatboxes, I always imagined where they were going and who they were meeting along the way. I have always been an independent woman on the go, but I found that that lifestyle had lost all of its glamour and allure from what I had always aspired to even as a young girl. I wanted to bring back a touch of that but it still feel somehow accessible and practical. I have endless muses, musicians, writers, friends, all who have been born to travel and live lives we all could only dream. Also, those of us who don’t get to live that lifestyle but get to escape our daily lives once of twice a year and deserve to feel every bit as chic as the jet set pilgrims we have always idolized.
Who do you think is the most iconic muse of all time?
Margaret & Katherine:
We have so many muses from past to present – like Jane Birkin, Gloria Steinem, and Joni Mitchell – it’s hard to choose just one! We’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by real-life muses like Hannah Henderson, Laura Brown, LaTonya Yvette, and Vanessa Breuer. These hard working and passionate women inspire us to design clothes that make you feel beautiful, yet still comfortable. Also, it’s been amazing to communicate and receive feedback directly from the women wearing our clothes – this helps us continually evolve and make each collection better. The women of our community are our muses! …did we go too far? :)
I am not sure I could choose just one! I love Bianca Jagger and Mick Jagger, Françoise Hardy, Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. The list could go on and on.