Alannah and Clarisse (CMO of Casa Muza), met on Xmas eve at a friends gathering. Alannah and Jarred are one of the hottest couples of the LES and both represent the art scene that existed 10 years ago in the city. Alannah’s style is very chic, her vintage velvet blazer and shiny red hair were the art in a room full of LES underground artists. She could have easily been hanging around Basquiat, Warhol and Patti Smith if we went back to the 70s and 80s.

Her latest show Worlds Without Rooms at The Painting Center, in Chelsea, featured portraits of her friends from the community of artists that she gravitates around. All of her works vibrate and highlight a tasteful yet humoristic aspect of the subject.

Alannah advocates for artists, supports the community and is a friend of Casa Muza. The colors of The Retorno collection, enhance her artistry creating the perfect compliment to her beauty and energy.

Who is your current Muse?

I’m currently working on a painting of this amazing photographer and Domme, Sam, in a scene we staged within her apartment with her friend who models in secret (to respect his privacy, I won’t share his name.) They both have such dynamic, albeit very differing energies. Her friend and I have been talking and getting to know each other for quite some time, which is how I like to work with people. I want to know them on much more than a surface level.


What does it mean to you to be a muse for other women?

Being a muse for other women has been a life-changing and fruitful experience for me. Over the past several years I’ve been modeling for the painter, Alix Bailey. We’ve spent many hours together in her studio — sometimes in absolute silence as she focuses on painting what she sees. But unlike modeling for most men, that silence is meditative, I feel no self-consciousness with her, my mind wanders and relaxes. Maybe it’s a combination of her caring, sensitive, personality and that she’s a woman, I’m not sure. I’ve worked with a lot of great male artists as well, but she gives me a different level of respect, not as a model, but as an individual. Personally, I’ve never thought of myself as a muse, that’s for others to decide, right? But working with women is an absolutely enriching experience.


What is your life motto?

Haha, I don't know, these days I find myself thinking "try to relax and see things with more clarity" pretty often. But that's just because I know I can be a highly neurotic and excitable person. I'm not sure that I have a life mantra.


What is the song you most relate to?

Smalltown Boy by the first openly gay English band, Bronski Beat. The lyrics are about having to run away from a homophobic provincial area as a child, presumably to a more accepting and diverse urban area. That is quite literally what I did in my late teens! Thank god for diversity and safe places for queer people to thrive. The song is also kind of danceable club music, despite being melancholic. What a great combo!


Where do you find inspiration? Which artist inspires you the most and why?

Inspiration comes from such a mix of things. Mostly exterior things: experiences, other people, other artists, environments, situations. Plus a healthy dose of interior and intangible things: fears, feelings, curiosity. I spend a ridiculous amount of time looking at art and I’m always discovering new inspiring artists! Some older discoveries which still inspire me strongly: Gertrude Abercrombie, Lucian Freud, Sylvia Sleigh, Gregory Crewdson, Meredith Frampton, Toyin Ojih Odutola.


Your show “Worlds without Rooms” features a series of portraits of both men and women. What has determined your choice of subjects?

Having my first solo show at The Painting Center, Worlds Without Rooms, was a lot of fun. A lot of work, but a lot of fun, too! My subjects are chosen from my friends, those that live in or spend a lot of time in the LES, those whose story I know a bit. Those who are always in the process of overcoming the difficulties of being a young creative and self-sufficient individual in NYC.


What does sustainable and ethical fashion mean to you?

Most of my life I’ve worn second-hand clothes and once I find pieces that feel right for me, I’ll wear them for years, until they disintegrate. I’m a little bit appalled by the fast-fashion industry, and when I see people throwing out heaps and heaps of clothing just to restock every season. We live in a city where there are people in serious need of clothing and supplies, why people throw mounds of clothes into the trash confounds me. Sustainable and ethical fashion should be made in smaller quantities, valued, kept for more than a season, and ultimately recycled once the owner doesn’t want it anymore. And any excess should be given to those in need.


How does your style play a role on who you are as an artist?

I mean if you think of most common-knowledge artists throughout history, they had a definable, almost iconic style of dress: Kahlo, Dali, Warhol, Kusama, Basquiat, etc. I think fashion can be highly intertwined with identity. I’ve always worn my hair short and tended towards androgynous clothing. These days my style might be more dictated by my work than ever. I find myself wearing colors and patterns I paint with, and ultimately lean towards looser, flexible clothing I can work in. Fashion is fun, I feel everyone should play with it and not be so uptight.


What has been most inspiring to you about Casa Muza?

The fabrics and their colors (dye). I couldn’t believe I was wearing cotton, it felt like silk! And I absolutely fell in love with the blues and reds, especially the blue overalls. I felt like a modern-day urban huckleberry finn. I could rock that look all summer.

Clarisse Benhaim