Maripol: Polaroid Queen

On Set with the Fashion Icon Shooting Document Journal's Issue One

Legendary French photographer, stylist and art director Maripol feeds her Polaroid obsession with an intimate shoot for the inaugural issue of new fashion biannual Document Journal, captured in this behind the scenes video and extracts from her editorial. Given a SX-70 camera in 1977 by her then boyfriend, photographer Edo Bertoglio, as a Christmas present, Maripol immortalized the vibrant downtown art and social scenes of New York in the early 1980s with her instant portraits of friends like Madonna, Debbie Harry and Grace Jones. “People aren't threatened by a Polaroid. For me it became an obsessional object,” she explains. “I used to take photos of everything––a piece of jewelry I made, if I was on holiday, or if I saw a beautiful Manhattan building.” Nick Vogelson, who founded Document Journal with James Valeri, worked with Maripol daily for eight months sorting through her archives to piece together the Maripol: Little Red Riding Hood monograph. “She's a visionary,” says Vogelson, who art directed the book with his Townhouse Creative agency partner Anton Aparin. “One day we'd discover a sketch by Jean-Michel Basquiat or a portrait by Keith Haring, the next day it was an immigration endorsement letter from Andy Warhol.” Launching tonight at the Marc Jacobs bookstore, Bookmarc, as part of Fashion’s Night Out, Document Journal’s debut issue features contributions from New York art-punk aristos Glenn O’Brien, Rene Ricard and Justin Bond, leading photographers like Collier Schorr, David Armstrong and Benjamin Alexander Huseby, and Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears. Ahead of tonight’s launch, where she will be taking Polaroids of guests, Maripol muses on celebrity and sexiness.

Were you conscious of the rise of celebrity?
No, I lived the Studio 54 days and could just walk into the Factory. In those days nobody had a PR or an agent to justify the whole principle of celebrity. The most accessible people were those like Jackie Kennedy, who I met, or you would go into a bathroom at a party and Mick Jagger would try to pick you up. There were a lot of great people, but I knew these people at the beginning of their careers and I always remember them as the person that they were then. For me, I don’t see the celebrity thing; people are people.

Who has been your favorite subject to photograph on Polaroid?
I never really took a lot of photographs of the same person, but I would say Madonna.

Is there anyone living or dead that you want to photograph?
As a matter of fact, I want to start shooting artists before they die. We are living in such a youth-oriented society, I am sorry that I didn’t take a portrait of Rauschenberg or artists in their 80s.

Was there a concept behind the Document Journal shoot?
There was no concept behind it, just the pure idea of fashion. I think models respond well to me as a woman. If you think about it, there are still very few female fashion photographers. I think the extension of a camera is a sexual symbol for man. It is a very powerful tool. A lot of male photographers are really drooling over these young girls and I think it must be very difficult for those girls. With me, there was nothing sexual, and what I can get is sexiness without being sexual. There is a difference. It’s because I am a woman and I want to have something feminine and affectionate.

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