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Book reviews seem to be slipping down lower and lower down the list but even if I am a little late with this one here, I feel like I'm timing it well with all the gifting antics that will ensue for the next few weeks.  'Little Red Riding Hood' by New York photographer, designer, art director and all-round New York ledge Maripol, landed with a sweeping visual thud a few months ago and I've been absorbing it ever since, unable to find the words to express what's so fantastic about this tome, a predicament that's prevalent with a lot of coffee table books I own.  You just want to say "You have to see it, touch it and get engrossed in it." to see what the deal is, which is in effect, a lazy review.  

I'll plod on and try though.  Maripol has given us a visual round-up of certain facets of her life through photographs, drawings, notes, collages and of course her famous Polaroids that track her early memories of growing up in Morocco to landing in New York in 1976, a pivotal moment that would send her on a path to becoming creative director of Fiorucci, opening her store Maripolitan, styling a young Madonna, art directing the likes of Cher and D'Angelo and all the while, becoming a New York luminary keeping company with the best of what the late 70s-80s underground and artistic scene had to offer.  A visual biography would be a lax description as you're not meant to find out semantics such as chronology or facts but rather you come away with a painterly impression of Maripol's creative endeavours and that particular period which has fascinated me since a) reading The Beautiful Fall by Alicia Drake and b) watching Maripol's friend Edo Bertoglio's film Face Addict (if you can't get hold of the latter, PLEASE try and read the former – it's a TREAT).   

This is all of course before my time and in the same way that I suppose that my generation (or younger) romanticise the underground cultures of the past, Maripol's blossoming period of the late 70s-80s in New York, I suppose is my rose-tinted weakness.  The unnecessary nostalgica is probably deplorable to those that lived through that period of time in New York when people partied hard to detrimental consequences.  Still, I blame the retrogading sensibilities that have been instilled in all of us and therefore have no choice but to look upon this book my Maripol as something of a dream fest.  It doesn't help that Maripol herself puts together a riotous selection of imagery that conveys nothing but the good times, an exhuberant and exhaustive haul of creativity and therefore paints a decidedly pretty picture.   It's hard not to give too much away but beyond these snaps, there's a whole lot more so if you can, try not to take the easy route out ("Oh yeah, I'll just gander at this through some girl's crap blog post…") and instead, enforce this on somebody's Christmas shopping list (or is that the easy way out?) 

Maripol's early life isn't dwelled upon too much as New York is the focal point where all her creativity gushes out but her family and roots in North Africa are clearly dear to her in the opening pages…

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I love the haphazard arrangement of photography, personal notes and illustration creating a deluxe scrapbook that you can flick through quickly or read slowly depending on the pages…

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As the book progresses, Maripol's sketches for costume/fashion design become more and more loose, free and less-exacting as though the ideas were executed quicker, requiring less pre-emptive thought and more ACTION, a lesson that I need to learn sometimes…

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Weirdly enough, without knowing that Maripol had put slinkies on Grace Jones as jewellery, I too went through a phase of wearing metal slinkies as cuffs…

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Maripol worked with the director Jean-Paul Goude a lot… including this Orangina commercial.  What happened to using progressive stylists on soft drinks commercials, eh? 

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Love this centre spread where there's a translucent page that goes on top of another sketch of this China Doll dress…

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There are also smaller-sized booklets inserted into the book where Maripol arranges her designs…

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Maripol also worked on the film Downtown 81, which didn't actually get properly released until 2000… which took its toll on Maripol because she had to edit, restore and look at this footage repeatedly over a long period of time, staring at a subject who is no longer alive.  At this point in the book, she also takes the opportunity to say this statement that I've heard in varying forms over the last decade… "New York 30 years later has lost this frankness.  Fanatic mayors and a city orientated on financial gain alone will always try to kill this artistic spontaneity that is the spirit of New York." 

The tide might be changing but you wonder whether the verve will ever be reignited? 

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Maripol opened her store Maripolitan in 1984… love how these sketches are a complete antithesis to the high calibre rendered technical drawings of conventional store designs…

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This part of Maripol's jewellery legacy I did hap upon when rubber bangles, peace sign penants and smiley faces were very much in my life… too much actualy.  By 1998, I had a glut of this transient jewellery that I ended up chucking away… shame on me. 

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The rest of Maripol's styling/art directing trajectory is history as her most well-known feat is of course styling Madonna in the early days…

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This is her vision of fashion's future… not unlike Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh, Romain Kremer designs that came later… 

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I love this IN/OUT list she made in 1987, which for me nicely closes the hey day period and looking at the list, it seems to me that Maripol has grown tired of the scene that she reminisces over. 

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There are so many points of inspiration to take away be it from Maripol's designs, styling, her words or the people that she captured on film and her own self as well, that I'm glad in a way that she didn't make it into a biography where text and narrative swamps the imagery that tell a far more upbeat and positive tale. 

Instead, as a closer to the book, Maripol has a conversation with Marc Jacobs that goes over some of the narrative in a "Let's look at the good old days" sort of way.  It also brings in Jacobs' own past as a club kid who started going out aged 15, hanging out at Fiorucci, going to Studio 54, the Mudd Club and Hurrah and together, they go over similar experiences of witnessing spontaneous creativity and the state of change that New York nightlife underwent.  Which leads nicely onto Marc Jacobs' S/S 11 collection.  It definitely went off in all directions, riffing off the 70s in a number of ways – YSL's colour combinations, Missoni-esque knitwear and sending out Bianca Jagger and Guy Bourdin vibes.  Furtheremore though, there's also an inherent 'New York' energy in the collection that of course always pervades Jacobs' work but for S/S 11, it harks back to a 'New York' nightlife period when disco ruled and as a city, NY took over the mantle as the centre of cool.  It's a precursory period to the one that Maripol paints in her book but still as I read the closing conversation between Jacobs and Maripol, you can't help but think that he takes pleasure in reminiscing over the New York of yesteryear and perhaps that does play out in his work.  I also exited that show getting the same joyous vibes as I did when I had finished flicking through Maripol's book.  Gazing dreamily at the past can be a tiresome and counter-productive activity, but when there's so much joy to take in (in the form of wicked colour combinations, oversized hats, voluminous skirts and one particularly fetching candy pink satin trouser suit…), I'm not going to deny myself the pleasure. 

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Comments (21)

  1. Joy D. says:

    I agree, super cool. Did not know Marc Jacobs was a “club kid”, that explains a lot about his collections and some of his ad campaigns.

  2. Yes, what did happen to progressive stylists doing soft drink commercials? I love what she said about New York becoming obsessed with finance and “safety”. It does take a toll on artistry but New York is still the place to be for raw creativity. New York is my favourite place in the world (and I’ve been all over) because whenever I go I experience these crazy shifts inside and I know it’s because of all the creative people who’ve from around the world to unleash their talents. The place moves me like nowhere else.

  3. Crysta says:

    This post was a photo bomb and quite informative. Thanks!

  4. katie kirby says:

    Really great images!

  5. EDOARDO says:

    amAZING PICS AND VERY ITNERESTING POST. ESPECIALLY THE PIC ABOUT FIORUCCI’S MODEL AND ALSO THE OTHER PICS…AAMZING!!
    http://fashiondoesntexist.blogspot.com/

  6. This book looks sooooooooooo freakin’ cool! Love how its layed out in such a free scrapbook layout. And the pics are so rockin! All the colors just pop! And the book defn’ has a similar vibe to Marc Jacobs show….what a COOOL/70′s awesome show! I think the soundtrack on the runway should have been “Ring my bell” by Anita Ward!!!
    kisses
    xoThe Beckerman Girls
    http://www.BeckermanBitePlate.com

  7. Duck says:

    Today when walking home listening to the Ministry of Sound’s new disco album (btw – AMAZING) I thought I really neeeed to write a 70s post. I’m thinking favourite disco songs, Roksanda’s 70s collection, Tom Ford’s womenswear (so 70s louche), and *this* Marc Jacobs… And you beat me to it!
    xx

  8. I’m adding this book to my Xmas wishlist. Need to get that old NY feeling back. Nowadays I feel I have to escape as much as I want to live here. Can’t wait to get inspired!

  9. Emma Winn says:

    ha ha how cute is that book! her little note “zebra is in leopard is out” made me laugh. not a huge marc jacobs fan though. fake karl did a hilarious post about how marc jacob designs by going to the “sorting hat” and pulling random colour pattern and fabric out. He’s just a bit too all over the place for me… probably coz i’m a control freak! ha ha
    http://winnsomesmile.blogspot.com/

  10. M. says:

    thanks for the tip, the book really looks amazing, something different!

  11. Brainquicken says:

    The hat she has used in the photo above looks so beautiful. I would love to wear it.

  12. baby blanket says:

    very interesting…cant say i agree with all the concepts but i love the hats….amazing and unique stuff on a hold

  13. this book looks amazing… great job

  14. small zebra rug says:

    i love these looks especially the hats

  15. I myself love “The Beautiful Fall… i think every young woman should read that book.. its amazing.

  16. This was a really fantastic post that I really do appreciate. This is something that is really amazing and interesting to me to say the least.

  17. leroy dickinsut says:

    looks ideal place for you to work and shop enjoyable both work and pleasure

  18. i’m gonna add this to my wishlist..great post

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