She strode into the lobby of the Lotos Club on a cushion of fresh air. Hilary and I were waiting, extremely excited to meet her. Eyeing us, she stuck out her hand and said, “Hi! I am Ali MacGraw.” Of course you are, we thought – same piercingly intelligent eyes, same perfect nose, the knowing smile full of mischief. You are the ultimate “it girl” we adored, in Love Story, so many years ago. We were smitten from the start! Fellow fans of Ms. MacGraw will know of her fashion background as photographic assistant to Diana Vreeland at Harper’s Bazaar and at Vogue Magazine as a fashion model before becoming an international sensation for her starring roles, and stupendously glamourous life. In 1972, MacGraw was voted the top female box office star in the world!
In a burst of energy, she explained that she was making her way downtown to pack up and head to Southampton for a Trunk Show and we followed her into the dining room to find out about her latest undertaking as Ambassador of the Ibu Movement and creator of ALI 4 IBU. When she spoke of her role as designer and ambassador to the IBU Movement, her eyes flashed with excitement and her words told of a deep commitment to it. Her enthusiasm is infectious and Hilary and I were mesmerized by the message.
IBU, pronounced ee-boo is a global movement of women creating by hand as a means to self sufficiency. In Indonesia, the word means a women of respect. “Historically this is what women have done, working with our hands, making things the same way for centuries. It is honoring our connection to the past and to women around the globe. We provide the funding upfront and we are equal partners in the venture that has far reaching consequences in places around the world where women live in dire financial conditions.”
On the website, we discovered that women in developing countries spend an average of 90 cents on the dollar on education and healthcare for their families. Ali related a story of three generations of women in the mountains of Morocco, weaving the same wonderful Moroccan Coat and their partnership with ALI 4 IBU. “This group has had their lives changed creating a far-reaching ripple effect to their families and communities, and that is just one story.” You can read all of the stories on the web IBU Artisan Stories.
When Ali met IBU Founder, Susan Walker, it it was a melding of minds and spirits. “The first time I met Ali MacGraw, I knew she was an IBU. Not only was I aware of her life of service and generosity in her chosen community of Santa Fe, earning the respect of everyone I knew; but of course, I was aware also of her enduring iconic style, which I thought came closer to embodying IBU perfection than any other person alive.”
Ali has alway embodied individual style. She was raised in an artistic, bohemian household and came by her innate design skills and independent spirit at an early age. And the talented thread continued throughout her careers. “Working for Diana Vreeland, I saw a lot. I was running around the city, literally running – no Town Cars then – to style fashion photo shoots.
It taught be a lot about taste and luxury. As you get older there is a shift in priorities. It is figuring out who you are and being comfortable there. Now I am into style, not fashion.” Following Vreeland’s edict, “You gotta have style. It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning. It’s a way of life. Without it, you’re nobody. I’m not talking about lots of clothes.”
Hilary: The meeting with Ali left us feeling uplifted and inspired. Plus, it felt like we had met a long lost friend. I couldn’t wait to get back to the office and shop her line. Ali’s color palette is right up my alley, greys, whites and pale blues. I thought this summer day dress would be easy to wear around town or over a swimsuit. She also has a wide array of accessories to mix and match, like these cuffs that look pretty on any one. And she told us not to be discouraged if an item says it is sold out because they are in the process of restocking. It will definitely be on my revisit list for fun finds made by women for women around the world.
shoes: The Island Ankle-Wrap $160
I agree with Hilary – shopping on IBU actually feels good. You sense the connection to the global movement of empowering women. You can read about the artisans that create the unique luxury goods and feel good about your choices. It is not charity, it is industry. For my selection, I gravitated to a summer color i love – orange. And as I will be traveling to Mallorca for a wedding this summer, I will pack all of this neatly into my bag.
caftan: Ali4iby The Kamila Caftan $170
We reluctantly left Ali to tend to her business and we to ours. We were invigorated by the tremendous spirit and energy of this remarkable, joyful women. She made us feel like friends and her parting words will remain with us, “This is a magical project, from which is changing lives of women all over the world. From Susan, all the way through IBU, it is all about heart. I love everything about it, and I am honoured to be a part of it. We are a tribe, it is all about love.” So it is a Love Story.