Fashion designer and artist Polet Guzman has a very clear mission for her brand, MUZA – to design clothing that makes every woman feel like a goddess: unique, confident, powerful and erotic. Guzman was born in Puerto Rico, and after studying painting in Old San Juan, decided to delve into fashion design as a way to create pieces of art that could be worn on the body, an extension of the inner self.
Currently, MUZA is showing work at La Marqueta Retona, an initiative to revive the social and cultural elements in El Barrio through the arts, food, music and other community activities. She is part of a pop-up shop and boutique at XL Atelier with four other Latina designers, so you can stop by there to check out some of the beautiful pieces for yourself every Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Her unique designs are also available online at Etsy.
After stumbling upon some of her pieces of her upcoming lingerie line, I was intrigued by the balance of raw sexuality with the power of femininity. I had a chat with Polet about the philosophy of the Muza woman, her inspirations since moving to NYC, and how Latina women inspire her.
Describe the aesthetic of MUZA in a few words.
Bring the artist subculture and the street wear style to high fashion.
My inspiration comes from the social constructs women from Puerto Rico face throughout their lives.
How did you begin your career in fashion?
I unconsciously joined the fashion world. I originally made street wear and clothing for young women on the move. My mom is a fashion designer so I grew up watching her create clothing but I was never interested in learning the craft of making clothing. I have always been a creative so I went to study at la Escuela de Artes Plásticas Viejo San Juan for a degree in Painting. While in school I started experimenting with my art in different mediums and so began designing fashion unaware of what I was doing; for me it was just another form of expression. As time passed I figured out how to make my art accessible to people. I figured out that we need clothing more than we need a painting on a wall. My art becomes something that you can touch, manipulate and travel with. And thats how I fell in love with fashion, and that’s how it became my career.
How does your Puerto Rican heritage influence your art and brand?
Much of my inspiration comes from the social constructs that women, specifically women from Puerto Rico, face throughout their lives. Self expression, especially artistic or erotic expression, is still somewhat of a taboo in Latin cultures. Puerto Rican women, and women in general, have endured and continue to endure a lot of adversity. I take all of the past cultural experiences the Puerto Rican women have withstood and I twist it around, creating a controversial piece. I want a brand that allows women from a male dominated culture to express themselves in a liberating way.
New York is a city that is connected to the entire world.
My lingerie is somewhat private (I say somewhat because I would actually like for the people that buy my lingerie to feel confident enough to step out with one of my bras as their top) for the women, it’s something empowering.
Who are some fashion icons that inspire you the most?
Two of my most influential fashion icons are Vivienne Westwood and Rei Kawakubo. I think they are powerful enough to break the rules of fashion; breaking the integrity of a garment itself and recreating a new beautiful structure-it’s almost a dream world. I love how they manipulate the body with their clothing.
What has been one of your proudest moments of your brand so far?
Presenting Muza in the National Museum of Art of Puerto Rico in May ‘14. My goal has always been to present my clothing like a work of art and having the opportunity to showcase my clothing in a museum is a big step.
What’s your favorite place to get inspired in NYC?
The subway. New York is a city that is connected to the entire world through the many different people that live here. The subway is the place where you can sit down and observe all the different cultures and the unique styles each individual have in a shared space. I find that very inspiring.
What is your biggest aspiration for MUZA in the future?
To keep presenting my collections in Galleries and Museum. And to keep making a product that is reachable but still unique.
Any fellow Latin@ artists/designers/creatives that you dream of collaborating with?
I would like to collaborate with Calle 13, because his music talks about the social problems of Latin culture. He speaks to the people and their truths, and I like that. Another artist would love to collaborate with is MIMA. She is a true poet and she has incredible style. It would be an honor if I could recreate their set with my clothing for a video or a live performance in one of my shows.
Can you give us a song/artist/ or video that captures the attitude and essence of MUZA? Why?
I will say Bright lights by Gary Clark Jr, we even used that song for the ‘’behind the scene’s’’ video of a photoshoot that we did earlier in the year. The reason behind this song is the 180 degree swing that MUZA took when I arrived to New York. I went from deconstructed, painted T-shirts to lingerie in my first 6 months here. The song represents what Muza is now, the sexiness of rock & roll and the change that the big city makes you go through. If you don’t change you don’t grow, if you don’t grow you don’t evolve.