Ruby red lips, eyes heavily encircled by coloured eyeliner, a bright round orange spot on each cheekbone and hair in the most unusual of shades – Prussian blue – ”the accidental effect of an unexpected chemical reaction, whose result I happily embraced” – Anna Piaggi is, no doubt in anyone’s mind, an unmistakeable figure.
Her effervescent and eccentric personality, her inimitable style, exuberant and extravagant, ”a fight against banality” as Karl Lagerfeld once put it, along with her visionary interpretation of the fashion world, translated into some of the most memorable pages of publications such as Vogue Italy and Vanity, have made Anna Piaggi a legendary figure within the fashion industry.
Piaggi’s collaboration with the fashion world, started in the Sixties at Arianna magazine and continued with an iconic career at Vogue Italy, provided the fashion world with a breath of fresh air, attributed to her innovative style and unique personality. In 1988, she created DP – Double Pages by Anna Piaggi, a monthly cult-series of fashion spreads in Vogue Italy, in which Piaggi dictated with a resounding voice, laced with humour and effervescence, all things fashion and glamour.
Known for her habit of bringing several trunks of clothing for a short voyage, Piaggi always possessed the ability of stealing the spotlight, upstaging even the most daring of fashionistas.
Despite the rainbow of colours surrounding her as part of her trademark style, each of Piaggi’s appearances was minutely studied. ”I never pick up something and just throw it on my back like that. There’s a little bit of study, and it’s always better if I think about what I’m going to wear the night before the next day. And what is to be avoided at all costs is the twinset look, the total look.”
”I dress the way I write; I paint my own portrait like a collage, with a self-control fashion victims will never have. I am incapable of drawing or sewing. Print is the language I know best.”, Piaggi used to say. With the same flair used to build each and every extraordinary outfit, creating style masterpieces, Piaggi wove images, stories and trends, in the pages of Vogue Italy.
Her fashion knowledge and valuable advice came to be encyclopedic. Her book, ”Fashion Algebra”, a retrospective of her DP spreads, is a true fashion and style manual. In 2006, The Victoria & Albert Museum in London, held an exhibition in her honour. ”Anna Piaggi – Fashion-ology” only featured part of her extensive wardrobe, but the flamboyant selection included 2,865 dresses (including creations by Balenciaga, Fendi, Galliano and Poiret), 265 pairs of shoes, 932 hats and 31 feather and fur boas.
Milliner Stephen Jones, who created numerous head accessories that Anna wore ”to highlight the contour of the silhouette”, shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, who contributed to her extensive shoe collection, as well as Karl Lagerfeld, who dedicated a sketch album entitled ”Anna-chronique” to her, are just some of the prestigious fashion names to whom Anna Piaggi served as muse.
”Through her way of dressing,”, Karl Lagerfeld once noted, ”Anna automatically does what we will be doing tomorrow”.
Anna Piaggi’s legendary hat collection will be showcased during Milan Fashion Week this fall. The exhibition, which will be open to the public starting September 22, is curated by haute chapelier and Anna’s close friend, Stephen Jones, and will feature iconic styles, from couture creations to baseball caps, all showcased in a special installation made to resemble her Milanese appartment.
Photos courtesy of: thesartorialist.com, portable.tv, theheritagestudio.com, telegraph.co.uk, hierofante.com, blouinartinfo.com