Madeline Weinrib, iconic in the design industry, has been creating textiles, rugs, cushions, and style I've admired for years. No, no, more than admired. . .it was complete lust. Maddy left her family roots at ABC Carpet and Home to find her own way, traveling the world to find artisans who could produce her bold designs, and in particular, discovered the ikat weaving of Central Asia long before it became the rage in the West. In fact, she was the rage. When Madeline first brought the fuzzy lines and explosive colors of Uzbekistan to the US, customers didn't flock to buy them. It took time for her new ideas to take root and for an impassioned following to understand, and then obsess over them. Like me.
Today, countless vendors have copied her original mind and, even worse, corporate brands have manufactured her designs in cheap knock-offs. It is hard to compete with a million copies of yourself. Last year, Madeline shocked the industry by closing the doors of her enviable empire. Vogue reporters sobbed and gnashed their teeth. The NYTimes and all manner of design royalty knelt down in homage to her creative brain, her surpassing, artful, global reach.
I'm returning to who I really am, she said, when the huge repercussions of her decision hit the design world. I'm an artist. I want to create.
Somewhere along the line, I had the good fortune to meet Madeline, and, over time, to call her friend. Her friendship is genuine, loyal, real. When I asked her to lend her support to the Ibu Movement, to the empowerment of women around the world, she knew first hand how difficult the challenge of working with artisans can be - she had been living it herself for years. But she said Yes, anyway, and with a generous heart.