Rubber Soul

Madonna's Ex-Stylist Maripol Talks 80s Fashion, Polaroids and Britney

In the 1980s, Maripol caused a trend sensation with her rubber bangles and crucifix earrings, worn by Madonna on the cover of her breakthrough 1984 album Like a Virgin. At the time, Maripol (née Marie-Paule)was art director of New York’s Fiorucci store—a daytime hub for New York’s underground creatives. Since then she has worked as a stylist, designer, photographer, producer and artist. Her most recent project was a range of tees and accessories produced in collaboration with Marc Jacobs earlier this year. We rang her up in Paris, a city she seems to think could teach Britney Spears a thing or two.

Why do the 80s keep coming back again and again?

Because it was just an explosion of madness. They’ve been milking the 80s for the past 10 years. I think it’s because the 90s were so boring!

The rubber accessories you did for Marc by Marc Jacobs this year were a huge success—any plans to do any more?

We talked about it, but the problem is we did this one as more of a gimmick, tied to the comeback of the 80s. If I was to do something new I’d have to reinvent it. I wouldn’t mind, but it’d be difficult for them to get it out. We were talking about bags but nothing is concrete yet.

You’re working more in photography at the moment, it seems.

After 9/11, I wanted to get a sense that we were alive after what happened, that we belonged to a community. I decided to go back to the Polaroid. I went for giant, 20x24 Polaroids. Of course I was inspired by Andy Warhol—he used that camera. I think I created these afternoon parties in the studio and then took pictures, inviting people every 35 minutes—come as you are, no makeup, no styling. Faces from the scene, and some new kids. People came and some hadn’t seen each other in 20 years. I’m planning to take that show on the road, because… look at my luck: Polaroid is not being manufactured anymore. But I have at least 250 of these portraits.

Who do you still see from the old New York scene?

I still see Debbie Harry, because she’s such a wonderful person who has not one bit of snob in her. I see my old friend Adrianna who was married to Kid Creole. She created the band with him, she was a coconut. I still see Madonna at events sometimes and I saw her in Cannes. I know she’s always there if I want to pick up the phone or go online, but I think it’s not the same as when you’re in your twenties.

Do you think we can have another celebrity like Madonna in this decade?

We have Lady Gaga. She’s pretty close to the concept: somebody building up the career and the music and the look. I’m sure Madonna appreciates her, but she’s like a clone. At the beginning whenever I heard her music I thought it was Madonna singing.

Does that annoy you? Some of the looks reference your work.

No. What do I care? It’s a compliment in disguise. Of course, I’m not being decorated by the Queen of England or the French Legion... maybe one day I will be. Whatever, I’m just kidding. We all paved the way for new generations.

You’ve worked with huge stars like Cher and Elton John too. Is there anyone you’d like to work with now?

The problem is that now everybody is so smart, they kind of do it themselves. They all have designers, they all have their own lines too, everybody’s into merchandising. Do they need me? I don’t think so. But sometimes I think Britney Spears could use my help. I would de-vulgarize her. I just invented this word. I’d get her out of Hollywood trash and into something more mature and more French maybe.

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