In Greek mythology, the Titaness Mnemosyne is considered one of the most powerful deities of all. Known as the goddess of memory, she is the personification of clarity. Though mighty in her own right, she is perhaps most remembered for birthing nine daughters to Zeus, known collectively as The Muses. Their duty was to inspire the great work of artists, poets, philosophers, and musicians.
It’s no wonder, then, why local designer duo Jerry Matthews and Francesca Viamonte (pictured above) chose the name Nine Muses for their new label. The two met one fateful day in the sewing room while studying at The Art Institute of Dallas, subsequently bonding over their similar sketches and shared design aesthetic. Ultimately, they decided to design as a team.
As Matthews explains, “We never sat down together and said, ‘Okay, we’re going to create a label together.’ It just happened.”
If the beginning is somewhat unclear, however, the future of Nine Muses is crystal. To start, on February 23rd, the line will debut at The Pin Show 2013. I met up with Matthews and Viamonte over a plate of rosemary fries to discuss their upcoming show, design inspirations, and Lana Del Rey.
Heather Lettieri: Who was your first fashion muse?
Jerry Matthews: “My dad was in the Navy, so we moved around a lot when I was growing up. For a while, we lived in Japan, and I always say that’s when I first fell in love with fashion. My mother, who was this very, very glamorous woman, would take me shopping and dress in chic clothing, and was definitely my first muse.”
Francesca Viamonte: “I grew up in Venezuela, and it’s a similar story for me. My mother was always traveling to amazing places and dressing in these beautiful clothes. She definitely inspired me. She also always greatly encouraged my creativity. We call them our ‘Mama Muses.’”
What are the inspirations for the debut collection?
JM: “Well, every season we will have nine new muses, or inspirations. This collection focuses on strength and a sexy confidence, so each of our muses are women we feel emphasize these traits. Lana Del Rey, Brigitte Bardot, Jessica Rabbit, Eartha Kitt, La Femme Nikita, Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie and Clyde), Julie Newmar as Catwoman, Dita von Teese, and Katherine Hepburn.”
FV: “All of these women, to us, were never afraid to be women. They all possess the necessary confidence to be sexy and embrace their femininity.”
Both times I’ve worn a Nine Muses gown, I remember feeling so utterly beautiful and confident. I loved the subtle and timeless sexiness of the dresses, and the simplicity and elegance of the structure. Is it important to your aesthetic to keep an minimalistic tone rather than over-designing?
JM: “I think we both have an understanding that there’s a balance needed here. We want to push the boundaries but we don’t want to cross the line of…”
FV: “Unwanted attention.”
FV: “We want to incorporate sex appeal in our designs, but always keep them sophisticated.”
Jerry, you interned at Nha Khanh for 3 months. What did you learn from that experience?
JM: “I learned so much during that experience. One of the most important things was learning more about the business side of the industry. You can’t buy that knowledge. More than anything though, the internship made me realize that I wanted to do this. I wanted to start a new line and design with my vision. And I realized then that it could be possible to accomplish.”
As partners, what moment has made you most proud?
FV: “Finding out we were chosen to participate in The Pin Show! It’s such an honor for us.”
JM: “The Pin Show for sure. It was the first time we showed the collection to anyone, because it’s been under wraps. Finally getting confirmation and praise on your work is so wonderful.”
FV: “We don’t ever have to go anywhere else. Dallas has been so supportive and receptive. We’re debuting in the city we’ve fallen in love with and that is our home now. It’s amazing.”
After The Pin Show debut, what will be next for Nine Muses?
FV: “We’ll host a private launch show in March and then put our spring game plan into action.”
JM: “Yeah, we’re already getting inspired for next spring! The Fall 2013 collection is very dark, so the following spring will be the opposite. There will pink and more of our signature Venezuelan lace.”