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.