Influencer of a Generation
The year was 1983, and the collaboration between Maripol and Madonna would enter history to become one of the most legendary and iconic trends in history. The punk influenced look, composed mainly by rubber jewelry and crosses created by Maripol for Madonna’s Like a Virgin album cover and music video became a fashion phenomenon however, that was just one among many projects in which Maripol had her hands on.
With a sharp eye for fashion and innovation, Maripol was not only styling looks but creating art and new concepts of her own. Working for Fiorucci as a creative director, she was responsible for all the buzz around their then famous New York store, which rocketed their designer jeans concept to fame. “We brought in Lamé Jeans on monday and by wednesday we didn’t have anymore left. Even Calvin Klein said he got inspired to do jeans by Fiorucci”, observes the artist.
The innovative rubber jewelry worn by the likes of Madonna and Grace Jones were completely created by Maripol in her NoHo apartment, in which she still lives today. The pieces became a hit, Maripol opened her own store and also worked on developing special merchandising for Madonna’s tour. On the flip side, becoming such a huge style icon back in an era when copyright and patents weren’t really a priority, led Maripol’s company to a closure. “How can you survive when millions of people start making their most horrible supposedly rubber jewelry, which was actually made out of plastic? Mine was made of genuine rubber. I had a factory in Hong Kong, I had this dream to help the rubber industry in places like Malaysia and helping poor people by giving them work. Nobody else had that dream, it was pure greed! Now I know how it must feel to be Prada or others and see your knock off’s everywhere!”
Even though bankruptcy wasn’t ideal, it definitely did not stop Maripol in her tracks. Placed right at the core of the New York downtown scene, in the company of Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Deborah Harry, the group was creating whatever they felt was relevant and exciting.
Going on to produce and direct documentaries like “Crack is Whack” and music videos for talents like Elton John and Cher, this artist experimented in all realms available. It was with the feature film “Downtown ‘81”, produced by herself along with Glenn O’Brien and Edo Bertoglio that she really transcended her time. The film, which depicts a day in the life of the then emerging artist Jean Michel-Basquiat, was the portrait of the times in which they lived in, made with love and honesty for their generation and the many others which would follow and admire them.
Throughout her career Maripol had a couple of common denominators: curiosity and a polaroid camera. Known widely for her work with polaroid pictures, Maripol’s work has been shown in museums across the globe and featured in top art and fashion magazines. A book, Maripolarama was published in 2005 featuring her most remarkable images, and most recently in 2010 a more complete look at her career was brought to our attention by Damiani in a book entitled Little Red Riding Hood. In this book we are invited to take a closer look at Maripol’s oeuvre, drawing a finer picture of who this artistic genius really is.
Her work with polaroids is not over, nor is her passion for rubber jewelry. In 2010, while working on Little Red Riding Hood, inspired by an 80s resurgence that was in the air, Maripol felt compelled to bring her creations back to life. Like any good inventor, the light bulb went on and the designer decided to approach Marc Jacobs for a collaboration with his line Marc by Marc Jacobs. Maripol was taken to Marc by the resemblance of his Bleeker street store with Fiorucci’s back in the 80s. The return was a huge success via 17 pieces that included jewelry and t-shirts and brought attention to Maripols name and brand to another generation of hipsters.
Currently working on independently relaunching her line, she never seems to stop; but why should she? Not many can say they have influenced a generation. Maripol can.
I don't wish i knew then what i know now, everything happened as it should and we had a ball. We laughed and cried with the same intensity and never blinked in front of an adventure, even if it meant suspension from school, because we knew that we had each other to fake our parents signatures and would be able to get away with almost anything. I am pretty sure our parents knew that too, but we were straight A students, so i guess it didn't matter too much. That feeling was so good, really remarkable, i couldn't stop thinking of the shows we used to watch, the gossip that used to flow through the halls of school, the principal that we absolutely could NOT stand and the little parties, called "The Best Party for Teenagers", which we thought was a real grown up thing to do; tens of thousands of kids would go and then come back home at midnight or so, it was a huge deal to all of us and we adored it, i guess no one was really paying ANY attention to the name of the party, really, i am positive we weren't, because we used to call it "The Best". Period.
I could not give up that feeling, immediately i snapped back to 2011 and turned to my Pandora Radio to create my very own "Paula Cole Radio". Oh gosh, "Where have all the cowboys gone" started playing and i could remember a series of other things connected to around that same time. I remembered that was the year Eric Clapton wanted to "Change the World" in the soundtrack of "Phenomenon", a not so great movie with John Travolta but a damn good song that got him a couple of Grammy's. Along the same lines, Jewel wanted to know who was going to save your soul in one of her biggest hits and Sheryl Crow i guess made everyone happy and nailed a bunch of awards too with her then current album.
I also remember, around that same time, a very nasty and hard to forget hit song that could not stop being played anywhere, it was even in little stuffed animals when you pressed their paw, that nasty song would play, poor children, it was wherever you turned to: Macarena! What were those dance moves? And what were we thinking? We clearly had no filter. Well, obviously, that was also the year in which Shaquille O'Neal was allowed to make a movie, the stupid "Kazaam", and also the year when Demi Moore released the bombs "The Juror" and "Striptease", which to this day is still one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Speaking of which, remember how Ellen DeGeneres had her peak right around that time? She came out of the closet and her ratings came tumbling down while her public exposure went off the roof, the world wasn't ready for her genius but she surely saved my life; but not before joining Bill Pullman in the disastrous "Mr. Wrong". If Ellen wasn't such an amazing person and comedian we would not be able to forgive her for that slip! But hey, we all make mistakes, Mr. Pullman, who had just come from a series of big hits, including "Independence Day" in 1994 and "While you were sleeping" in 1995 will tell you, and so will his former co-star Sandra Bullock, who in that year joined america's heart throb Chris o'Donnell in the also disastrous "In Love and War"; i mean, did any of us really need such a piece of crap? I think not. We also didn't need "Two if by Sea" Mrs. Bullock, but whatever, i guess you can't always win right? Right! Because in that year there was enough room left in people's attention for the brilliant movie "Fargo" which was one of that year's favorites, alongside "The English Patient", which I NEVER get tired of watching with a trifecta of great acting: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche and Kristin Scott Thomas, well, Mr. Minghella, you made my year. That was also the awakening of a Hollywood icon: Leonardo DiCaprio had two huge hits, and was laureled by critics and audience in both "Romeo + Juliet" and "Marvin's Room", will we ever forget that? I think not.
Me on the other hand, i loved some brainiac movies, and my friends could absolutely NOT get me: "Basquiat"? what was that? "Sling Blade"? ugh, no! That was a few steps too far, and even movies like "Swingers" and "From Dusk til Dawn" were not for them, so i kept it to myself inside my darkened room in any given boring afternoon. With them i would watch "Twister" or "Daylight", and don't get me wrong, o LOVED those too, oh, completely and madly, i mean, i had a crush on Helen Hunt, how could i not?
Ninety six was a good year, but it's surrounding years were really good too, it was a time of discovery and enchantment, songs made us hurt but also filled us with joy, we thought that we would never be able to get over ourselves, we thought life would not reach the year 2000, the 90's seemed infinite, and we loved every second of it.
So, listening to "Paula Cole Radio" is like traveling in time and going back to a space where everything was possible, time went by very, very slow and we had the biggest hearts in the world, we definitely lived in the moment, in our little universe and i am pretty sure we were completely aware of it, with no regrets, at all, and now that i am able to look back and feel this happy about my teens, i can also relate to my mother and my father when they would blast the stereo listening to Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, John Lee Hooker, Rolling Stones or Supertramp and go on and on telling stories from the years when they would ride their motorcycles carelessly and free and hang out in the neighborhood with their friends all day, having one crazy adventure after the other. I can totally relate, it used to sound so far and weird to me, but at the same time quite fascinating and also somewhat brilliant, to see my mom crying as she listened to Janis and Zeppelin, there must have been something very intense going on right there in those songs, but that's for her to keep in her heart i guess, those stories were never shared, but i feel touched to have been able to witness moments like that and to have also had the privilege of growing up in such an eclectic environment.
This is what life is all about to me; live in the moment and make sure to store all your special times deep down in memory lane, you will never ever need a picture to go back to those places and feelings, because it all lies within yourself.