Book Review 5
Little Red Riding Hood, Maripol (Damiani/D.A.P.)
Maripol is a force of energy. Warm like a fire and flickering like a flame, she is one and the same as those who wore her designs in the earliest years. Grace Jones, Debbie Harry, Madonna, the list goes on and on. Her aesthetic influenced the generation that watched “Burning Up” and “Like a Virgin” and said, “I want to look like that.” Maripol is that trip from Paris to the moon, a ride alongside luminaries like Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Francesco Clemente, Debi Mazar, Vincent Gallo, Anna Sui, Steven Meisel, Pat Cleveland, Kid Creole, Futura 2000, Patti Astor, Edwige, Rene Ricard, Teri Toye, Klaus Nomi, John Sex, John Lurie, James Chance, Stephen Sprouse, Anya Phillips, Victor Bockris, Amos Poe, Diego Cortez. Maripol and her circle, all stars in a constellation that hovers above the New York skyline.
At the dawn of the 1980s in downtown Manhattan, French-born stylist, jewelry designer, and It-Girl extraordinaire Maripol took the city’s avant-garde by storm with her unforgettable approach to art and life. Whether collaborating with celebrated photographer Jean-Paul Goude as assistant, stylist, and sometimes model or collaborating with photographer Edo Bertoglio on the production of Downtown 81, starring then-undiscovered Jean-Michel Basquiat, Maripol’s early years were nothing short of remarkable.
Stylist and image consultant for Debbie Harry and Grace Jones, Maripol’s aesthetic soon began to draw high-profile attention. Inspired by the DIY style of the punk movement, Maripol’s innovative junk jewelry designs were first noticed by the Fiorucci fashion house, who hired her to design their first jewelry line before appointing her art director. Working with the likes of art stars Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf, Maripol’s influence was about to remake the world in the form of one woman: Madonna.
Madonna, who rocked Maripol’s trademark rubber bracelets and crucifix earrings, redefined 80s style. As stylist, fashion and jewelry designer for the most famous woman on earth, Maripol’s vision of the feminine—edgy, aggressive, seductive, and unblushing —became a global phenomenon. What was once radical has now become retro, with an entirely new audience eager to reclaim the guts and glamour of Maripol’s incandescent story.
As Maripol tells Marc Jacobs in conversation in Little Red Riding Hood (Damiani/D.A.P.), “There is a kind of voyeurism and some kind of visionary. And we could say that about a lot of other artists too, but the fact that I came here in 1976, and the fact that I met people like Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was only 18, or Rene Ricard, then I think that id I had been an American…. When you are a photographer… It felt like I was a peeping Tom, it was really amazing for me to come and to see all these crazy fun artists like James White and I think that when I went to the Mudd Club or CBGB and saw the B-52’s the first time they played. And Blondie, The Talking Heads, even James Brown at Irving Plaza. I grew up with all the American music, but to be able to see it live, it became necessary to capture it. It was a stroke of genius to have done a film [Downtown 81] about it too, to witness and to show the kids now, because what matters is the next generation.”
Little Red Riding Hood is the complete catalogue of the visionary bon vivant that is Maripol. Mixing different media such as drawings, fashion sketches, photography, Polaroids, and collages, this trip through time was inspired by a desire to share her world in all its forms. A designer, a photographer, and stylist Maripol takes back to a time when the do it yourself ethos of New York City brought the No Wave aesthetic to the forefront of the world. And at its crest rode a young French expatriate burning up the town.
Beginning in French Morocco, Maripol takes an intimate look at her family tableau, providing a timeless nude of her grandmother that sets the tone for the entire book. As she tells in the book’s introduction, “Rummaging through my family album I discovered hidden photographs of my grandmother whose fashion influenced me the most when I was growing up. Her name was Mathilde, which is also my middle name. I have always felt her presence in me since her death and I was proud that people always said that I was just like her. My attraction to fashion and jewelry (when stealing my mom’s dresses and high heels) made me a natural model, but the myths and legends that rocked my youth made me a winner for the best costume contest dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood.”
Maripol understands the form and dresses accordingly. Equally at ease in and out of clothes, Maripol understands the female form and all its allure in ways few others do. It is this understanding—combined with her saucy savoir faire—that allows her to clothing and fashion designs to be at once playfully dangerous and charmingly disarming. Maripol can make anything go pop, but the things she likes best dangle from your neck and lace your wrists. She most recently designed an exclusive line for Marc Jacobs, pieces that sold out quickly because the time is always now.
Riding the Hoods With Maripol is showing at Clic Gallery, New York, until June 19, 2011.