FROM TEEN HEARTTHROBS TO ENGLISH DANDIES, THESE 25 GUYS PROVE THAT INSPIRATION IS GENDER-BLIND.
1. Johnny Depp/Tim Burton
One of the most iconic auteur/leading-man teams in Hollywood history has made seven films together, including the art-house favorite Ed Wood and the box-office hit Alice in Wonderland. According to Burton, they communicate in a way that "wouldn't really make sense to the normal person."
2. Robert de Montesquiou/Marcel Proust (and others)
Count Robert de Montesquiou-Fézensac did not so much live as perform his life: He was a fixture of 19th-century high society, and the Savile Row clotheshorse, lavish decorator, and infamous wit served as the inspiration for as many as five different fictional characters (including Proust's Baron Charlus in Remembrance of Things Past).
3. Jonathan Plummer/Terry McMillan
Writer Terry McMillan's vacation romance with Jonathan Plummer, a hotel-management employee more than 20 years her junior, would become the basis of her best-selling novel (and a subsequent movie) How Stella Got Her Groove Back. But after six years of marriage, Plummer announced that he was gay and penned his own roman à clef—about a young man's crumbling relationship with an oppressive older woman.
4. David Gandy/Dolce & Gabbana
In 2007, Dolce & Gabbana needed a face to represent Light Blue, the label's first men's fragrance in over a decade. Enter David Gandy, a British model who, in the ubiquitous ad, posed afloat on a raft displaying an impressively muscled abdomen—which helped earn the guy his very own D&G calendar, titled "David."
5. Lord Alfred Douglas/Oscar Wilde
When Oscar Wilde began a tempestuous love affair with Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas in the late 1800s, the playwright's life changed forever—and decidedly for the worse. It led to him being convicted of gross indecency (read: sodomy) and serving two years of hard time. Yet critics speculate that if it weren't for Bosie, Wilde might not written his gay-subtext-filled masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest.
6. Kang Dong-won/Wooyoungmi
"[Kang] really matches everything that I have dreamed of," says the menswear designer Wooyoungmi of her muse. A fey, rail-thin South Korean actor, Kang is best known for playing emotionally tortured characters and, through his influence on Wooyoungmi, deserves a fair amount of credit for the influx of men you've seen this fall wearing loose double-breasted jackets and mournful expressions.
7. Neal Cassady/Jack Kerouac
Con man. Screwup. Serial charmer. Neal Cassady might have embodied the Zeitgeist of the fifties Beat generation, but it took Jack Kerouac to capture it on the page. Cassady's wayward past and ecstatic embrace of the present were rendered larger-than-life in the character of Dean Moriarty in On the Road, and the book made him the unofficial mascot of the era.
8. Joe Jonas/Taylor Swift
When Joe Jonas dumped Taylor Swift in 2008, his method wasn't exactly Disney-approved. "I'm not even going to be able to remember the boy who broke up with me over the phone in 25 seconds when I was 18," Swift said at the time. Yet heartbreak can help lead to great records. (Listen to the acid "Forever & Always.") In fact, Swift is more indebted to Jonas than she might care to admit, as evidenced by the JoBro-like sensibility (combining a touch of forgiveness with a lash of reprimand) that has come to define her career.
As legend has it, Ludwig van Beethoven dedicated his Symphony No. 3, "Eroica," to Napoleon Bonaparte as a gesture of recognition between two of history's greatest men but then angrily revoked the dedication upon learning that Napoleon had named himself emperor of France. The first symphony of Beethoven's Heroic period, "Eroica" is characterized by driving rhythms, martial instruments, and themes of triumphing over adversity and remains dedicated to "a great man."
10. Pete Doherty/Hedi Slimane
Some men struggled to fit into Hedi Slimane's radically thin clothes in the early aughts; rock musician Pete Doherty was born to wear them. Slimane was so taken with Doherty's original heroin chic that he published a photo book, London: Birth of a Cult, dedicated exclusively to the British ne'er-do-well.
11. Baptiste Giabiconi/Karl Lagerfeld
What would Karl Lagerfeld's male muse look like, you ask? "Perfect when dressed and stunning undressed," said the Kaiser of his favorite model, Baptiste Giabiconi. Lagerfeld even used Giabiconi in a tribute shoot to Helmut Newton, dressing him in nothing but a pair of shoes.
12. The Greek God Apollo/Leochares
Apollo, the Greek god of light, has inspired everyone from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to composer Igor Stravinsky to NASA. One of his legendary statues, believed to have been created by the Greek sculptor Leochares, has inspired centuries of jealousy by immortalizing the ideal of what a ripped torso should look like.
13. Woody Guthrie/Bob Dylan
Asked for a short ode to musician Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan penned a famous five-page spoken-word poem called "Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie." In his early days, Dylan patterned himself after the folk hero, from the dusty flannels to the country twang, and sang for Woody on Guthrie's sickbed.
14. Pee-wee Herman/Thom Browne
The generation that grew up laughing at Pee-wee Herman has ended up dressing like him as adults, thanks to the sartorial revolution of menswear designer Thom Browne, who made the shrunken gray-flannel suit a staple of menswear fashion.
Michelangelo transformed the biblical hero David into a four-and-a-half-meter-tall symbol of Renaissance art, finding in Goliath's antagonist, at the pre-battle moment, a drama and tension that was often lacking in the perfect repose of classical sculpture. In the words of the artist's biographer Vasari, David "took the voice away from statues both ancient and modern."
16. Matt Bellamy
As frontman for the band Muse, Bellamy literally fits the definition of this list.
17. Dickie Greenleaf/Tom Ripley
In the movie adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, con man Tom Ripley mimics his impossibly glamorous mark, Dickie Greenleaf—to the point that Ripley kills Greenleaf and assumes his identity. (Apparently there's such thing as being too inspiring.)
18. Roland Henin/Thomas Keller
Before Thomas Keller gained the status of food god by earning three-star Michelin ratings for both of his restaurants, the French Laundry and Per Se, he learned the basics of fine cooking by toiling under French-born master chef Roland Henin. Keller turned to his teacher again in 2008, recruiting Henin to coach the U.S. team in the renowned Bocuse d'Or culinary contest.
19. Mikhail Baryshnikov/Leonid Jakobson
Famed Soviet choreographer Leonid Jakobson created "Vestris" in 1969 specifically for Baryshnikov, and it became one of his signature roles. The lovefest went both ways: "I think that Jakobson was one of the most original choreographers of this century," Baryshnikov told the New York Times in 1989. "He was of the stature of the great masters." Dance, dance, revolution, indeed.
20. Harry Houdini/David Blaine
In 1999, magic man David Blaine stopped the stage patter for a test of true endurance: survive for seven days buried alive. A similar feat was planned but never accomplished by Blaine's hero, Harry Houdini; the famed showman died the same year he was set to attempt the underground stunt.
21. Dave Coulier/Alanis Morissette
Morissette's pain was our pleasure. The singer-songwriter topped the charts in 1995 with her album Jagged Little Pill, and the vitriolic single "You Oughta Know" became an anthem for dumped women around the world. The ex-paramour referenced in the song has never been confirmed by Morissette, but former beau Dave Coulier from television's Full House told a reporter after hearing the tune "Wow, this girl is angry . . . I think I have really hurt this person." Revenge is a dish best served on radios everywhere.
22. Richard Nixon/Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger arrived in the States from Austria in 1968 and happened to catch Richard Nixon on television during his second bid for the presidency. After the English was translated for him, Schwarzenegger decided on the spot that he was a Republican. A kindred symbol of overcoming one's origins, Nixon formed the cornerstone of the Governator's political career, leading him to adopt and cite again and again Tricky Dick's mantra of free enterprise and limited government.
23. Don Rickles/Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Many aspire to the title Don Rickles, age 84, has held for decades: King of the Insult Comedians. But only one has truly learned the lessons of the master—Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. In pure vindictiveness, he provides best homage to Rickles' humor . . . for us to poop on!
24. French Poet Rimbaud/Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet almost as famous for his prodigious drinking as for his stunning verse, liked to call himself "the Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive," citing the 19th-century demonic adolescent French poet. To this day, the two remain among the baddest boys of books, ensconced in both the literary canon and rock-star myth.
25. Joseph Campbell/George Lucas
Drawing on the theory of archetypes proposed by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell wrote The Hero With a Thousand Faces, a study of myth and narrative that inspired a new film director named George Lucas to redraft a script he had long been working on to follow the path of classic stories of yore. Yes, young Jedi—that script became Star Wars.
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