Polaroids and poems. Piles of jewels. Clothing lines and pop-up stores. These are a few of my favorite things. Come together in one woman, that woman is Maripol. She who more than most embody Chic’s lively disco tales. Because it all began on the dancefloor, so many years ago. And to the dancefloor is where we return for another spin around.
French-born artist, designer, photographer, author, film producer, and now—recording artist Maripol has teamed up with composer-producer Leonard Lasry to release four songs inspired by poems from her latest monograph, Maripola X (Le Livre Art Publishing). The songs, three in English, one in French, are both up and downtempo odes that recall nothing so much as a night with Nile Rogers.
Maripol reveals, “Le freak, c’est chic.” (Laughs). “For more chic is a hard word to define. You can’t buy it in a story. It is something you inherit. I got it from my mother and my grandmother. I live in the present, but also in the past. I look at Paris and Hollywood in the 40s and 50s. Everything is an inspiration, from the screen to the streets.
“Look at Commes des Garçons. Their first show revolutionized the Parisian scene with Jean-Michel Basquiat as a model in a suit and bare feet. Chic in the 80s was a natural chic. We didn’t have the money to get dressed. We were very creative.”
Maripol is a force of energy that shines over the Manhattan skyline with a brilliant warmth. 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, or appeared in her Polaroids, objets d’art unto themselves. 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 took the New York City by storm with her unforgettable approach to art and life. She first arrived in 1976, fresh out from Beaux Arts school. Her ability to design industrial objects into portable sculptures and jewelry is inspired by her rummaging through Canal Street, still an industrial neighborhood at the time. Crosses, rubber bangles and chains became Maripol’s trademark. In 1984, she opened her own gallery store, Maripolitan.
As stylist and image consultant for Debbie Harry, Madonna, 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. Her 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.
Fall 2014 is a busy season for fashion’s favorite iconoclast. On September 16, Maripol releases the “Love Each Other” EP worldwide on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and all other digital platforms. The songs on the EP include “Love Each Other,” “Under My Skin,” “Passion in the Desert,” and “Tuesday.”
Maripol assures us she will not be making a career change, but her turn in the recording booth brings everything full circle. She observes, “I like it because when I was a child, I was a singer in church. Singing is an extension of something I could have done, should have done. From poetry to music, why not?”
The “Love Each Other” EP will be released in conjunction with Maripol’s clothing line collaboration with Each Other, Paris which will make its world premier at Corso Como, Milan, on September 19. The line will include original designs by Maripol, from suits, sweaters, and blouses, to t-shirts adorned with reproductions of her seminal Polaroid self-portraits taken so many moons ago, recalling nothing so much as the pleasure and thrill of late nights spent in the New York underground.
As Diego Cortez wrote in Maripolarama (powerHouse Books), “Maripol was a styliste on every level. Her French background lent a vogue to this largely American and therefore style-less milieu. Maripol was the Alexis de Tocqueville of the American punk scene, as she advanced the principles of democracy across her grid of marginal cultural stars. Like Andy Warhol, she understood that democracy is the savant contemporary social and political format for a culture.”
Today, nearly four decades after she first graced New York’s shores, Maripol continues to be a force of nature to be reckoned with. Her crossing of the Atlantic forever changed fashion, style, and photography, reminding us that once again the Polaroid reigns supreme. As she recalls in the introduction to Maripola X, “My Polaroid became my girlfriend, my confidant, my spy, my tool, my secret companion. Nothing was calculated: it was all about the instant. At the same time, I poured my soul on paper. I secretly wrote my most intimate thoughts, my joys and sorrows—my poems at the time of my pen, my life with a pen.”
It is for this that we are grateful for it is those Polaroids and poems and piles of jewels, those clothing lines and pop-up stores that make Maripol both artist—and muse.