American Icon

While our country stews nervously over who will be our next leader, the political process devolves into a bad reality show, and hands wring the air with exasperation, I am voting for this woman.  

You may think of Ali MacGraw as a movie star who embodied the fearless freedom of the sixties; or a breathtakingly beautiful style icon who has grown with grace and fortitude - and you would be right.  But then . . . there is somuch more.  

Ali tells the story of her mother sitting at the kitchen table each week with envelops in front of her, placing dollar bills on each one.  When young Ali asks what she is doing, her mother explains that in this envelop she is saving money to aid those who are blind.  This one is for persons with cancer.  This one for those who are homeless.  Though her family did not have much money, what they had, they gave away with generosity and heart, intending the best for others. 

Ali still lives this way.  She has made a life of service and giving - taking things lightly, taking people seriously.  Time and again - while admiring a little something beautiful Ali was showing me - she pressed it into my hands as gift - insisting that she didn’t need it at all.  Her heart tilts at an angle, always flowing out to others.

I cannot imagine buying another diamond ring when there arepeople everywhere in such great need.she says at dinner, trying to understand our country’s spending habits.    Instead, she puts her energy into addressing those needs - of children in schools, women in developing countries, artists in distress. She eschews animal products and champions the rights of all creatures. She embodies compassion. Humility.  Graciousness.  Generosity.  A conscious, well-crafted life.   

One thing Ali truly loves, in addition to being of use to others, is the fascinating world of global design.  Tirelessly, she supports artisans who have come for the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, where she lives.  She works in their booths, houses their families, stores their goods while they return home.  Her father crafted jewelry, her mother wove cloth;  Ali has an innate sense for understanding and creating authentic beauty.

Which is why, I think, her heart gravitated toward ibu and Ali became our celebrated ambassador.  It is the marriage of design and service that she loves - and she does love ibu!  She spreads the word every chance she getswith passion and joy in her telling.

And not only that.  Jumping in with both feet and a bit of glee, Ali is putting her design talents to work for ibu.  It is something she has always loved:  great style, simply wrought, divinely layered.  She is bringing to the world, through the face of ibu, her iconic style for all.  Stay tuned for this next year!

Could I be more thrilled?  Could it be any more fun?  This summer, we shopped the flea market for treasure to work into her collection. She introduced me to textile dealers she knew by name and knew also of their plight in Nepal, or Mexico, or India.  She buys to support others.  She lives to create. And now, she creates so that others may live.  

Here is a woman I respect utterly.  An ibu from her silver crown to her denim blue toenails.  In a season of slippery words and thin promises, I’m voting for Ali’s vision of life- for strength, compassion, integrity.  Beauty and imagination. Fairness. Opportunity. Joy.   And her own big-hearted Love Story for this troubled but glorious world.

All the best,
Susan Hull Walker