Nearly 50 Years Later, Ali MacGraw is Still an Icon of Style
I fell in love with Ali MacGraw’s personal style while doing research for my current editor in chief, Laura Brown, as her intern at Harper’s Bazaar. Embarrassingly, at the time, I had never or seen or heard of Love Story, but I watched it immediately following my workday simply based on how great MacGraw’s hair looked in the YouTube clips I had screen shot.
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To me, Ali MacGraw personifies the difference between “fashion” and “style.” Of course, you can research back to her big Hollywood days and see her glammed up, but the truest Ali McGraw comes when you see photos of her wearing artisanal pieces of jewelry, large textiles, huge pieces of turquoise. It’s not “who” she’s wearing that makes her an icon of style; it’s how she’s wearing it. And everything, from the simplest white T-shirt to the most elaborate looking tunic, sings a story.
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“As far back as the '60s, I was wearing that kind of clothing and accessories,” the actress tells me over the phone from her home in Sante Fe. “I love the originality of it. I love the heart of it. I love knowing that it was passed along.”
The chances of MacGraw becoming a designer (of some sorts) was high: She began her career working as a stylist at magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and assisting big-name fashion photographers. She knew fashion (with a capital “F”) from her days on the silver screen, and style through living.
When she met Susan Hull Walker, the founder and creative director of Ibu Movement, her path became clear. Walker had been working with women’s cooperatives around the world to preserve their community skills in textiles, beading, and the like. She would then showcase the designs of these women all around the world, like at the International Folk Art Market where she and MacGraw met.
Working with over 100 female-run artisan groups around the world, Ibu works to empower the skills of women and ultimately, help them earn a living. And a big part initiative to keep Ibu relevant? To collaborate with ambassador designers to bring chic, wearable, and luxurious pieces that you’ll actually want to wear. That’s where MacGraw comes in.
“Quite honestly, it matters to me a lot to be conscious at this point,” MacGraw said, “Not kill a lot of animals, pluck a lot of birds, skin a lot of reptiles, and just kind of forget that all of life is interconnected.”
MacGraw has completed two collections with Ibu Movement, filled with tunics, jewelry, and handbags that are truly Net-a-Porter-worthy. That old idea that “gifts that give back” have to look crappy? Certainly not the case here.
“There’s a common sense of wearability,” McGraw says of the collection. “Most of the fabrics are natural — cotton, silk. I love the irregularities and the natural dyes and the wild imagination of [artisans] that we work with who are not on the Fashion Calendar.
Here, our favorite pieces from Ibu Movement’s capsule collection with Ali MacGraw, ali4ibu.
Ikat Swing Jacket
Made in a beautiful silk ikat from Uzbekistan.
Made in India.
Vintage Indigo Mule
Vintage handwoven indigo textiles from West Africa.
Made in the beach town of Malindi on the coast of Kenya.
Hand embroidered in Uzbekistan.