Hazine

26.07.2015 - Elisabeth von Stackelberg

Fashion People

Anna Piaggi

A STYLE ICON AND DESIGNER MUSE, ANNA PIAGGI CHALLENGED THE CONVENTIONS OF FASHION WHEN SHE DRESSED. INTUITIVELY JUXTAPOSING HISTORICISM WITH ECCENTRIC NEW PIECES, PIAGGI CREATED SARTORIAL THEATRE WITH THE FASHION WORLD AS THE STAGE.

A FASHION ORIGINAL

Known for her flamboyant fashion mash-ups, eye-popping hair and make-up topped with a quirky hat, Italian Vogue editor, Anna Piaggi, fearlessly invented her own style rules. Claiming to have never worn the same outfit in public twice, she continuously recombined and reinvented her pieces, creating sartorial art when she dressed. Although a client of the most notable names in fashion, Piaggi’s personal style wasn’t about wearing the latest looks off the runway. Her wardrobe harboured an eclectic collection of old and new, including haute couture as well as cheapest thrift store finds, which she combined with unique intuition. Her collection of clothing was full of the unexpected – from a McDonald’s employee uniform to the latest Dior couture to a Poiret piece from 1912. A close friendship with antique clothing dealer and collector, Vern Lambert, whom she met in late 1960s London helped Piaggi accumulate an impressive archive of antique fashion. In 2006 the Victoria & Albert Museum in London dedicated an entire exhibition to Piaggi’s style, titled “Anna Piaggi: Fashion-ology”, where visitors were informed that she owned approx. 265 pairs of shoes, 932 hats, 2,865 dresses, and 31 feather boas.

MUSE

Piaggi and her incomparable style became an inspiration to numerous designers. Through her husband, Alfa Castaldi, a major photographer for Vogue, Piaggi was introduced to Karl Lagerfeld in the early 70s, who was so intrigued by her theatrical approach to dressing that he proceeded to draw her in her eccentric getups regularly for over a decade. These sketches were later published in Karl Lagerfeld: A Fashion Journal. In the book Lagerfeld states: “Anna invents fashion.” Another one of her close designer friends, Manolo Blahnik, named her “the only authority on frocks left in the world.”

A VOGUE CLASSIC

Growing up, Piaggi had always been a strong admirer of Vogue. Starting her career as a fashion editor for one of Italy’s first women’s magazines, Arianna, and later becoming editor-in-chief at the influential publication, Vanity, Piaggi finally arrived at her long sought-after destination, Vogue Italia, in the late 80s. Here she would remain for 24 years, creating her famous monthly doppie pagine right up until her passing, aged 81, in 2012. The mood board-style double-page spread at the heart of the magazine, in which she drew connections between current trends and their cultural and historical influences in the form of collages and drawings pioneered the template for modern trend reporting with inimitable wit and insight.

Short Facts

Trademark

The signature look Anna Piaggi became known for in her later years was electric blue hair with a vintage wave, a powdered white face, red Cupid’s bow lips, eyes encircled in blue or smoky black eye shadow, and heavily rouged cheeks like an 18th century concubine.

Distinctiveness

Piaggi claimed that she hadn’t left the house without a hat since the early 1980s. Her close friend, milliner Stephen Jones, who created customary headwear for her, created an exhibition in 2013 to showcase some 800 hats from Piaggi’s personal collection in Milan.

Awards & Recognition

Piaggi featured on the International Best Dressed List numerous times and was taken up into its Hall of Fame in 2007.

Anecdote

In order to have sufficient outfit choices, Piaggi famously packed several trunks full of spectacular clothes when going away for a single weekend with Lagerfeld and his entourage.

“Anna Piaggi: Fashion-ology” exhibition at Victoria & Albert Museum in London

Timeline

1931 – Birth

On March 22, Anna Piaggi, named Italy’s most eccentricly dressed, is born in Milan.

1962 – Entering the Fashion World

Piaggi marries influential fashion photographer Alfa Castaldi, whom she met in the early 50s and who first initiated her career in fashion.

1967 – Costume Drama

Piaggi takes regular vintage-scouting trips to London as editor for Arianna, where she meets antique fashion dealer and collector, Vern Lambert. Through him Piaggi discovers her passion for collecting vintage, as well.

1974 – Lagerfeld’s Muse

Alfa Castaldi introduces Piaggi to Karl Lagerfeld, who is intrigued by her exuberant style. They become an inseparable duo for almost 2 decades.

1981 – Vanity Rules During

Piaggi’s three years as editor-in-chief of Vanity, the magazine develops a cult-like following.

1988 – Legacy

Piaggi was hired as creative consultant for Vogue Italia where she created her iconic doppie pagine.

1995 – A Darker Chapter

Piaggi’s husband, Alfa Castaldi, passes away. What follows is, according to Lagerfeld who parts ways with Piaggi not long after, a “sadder period in her life”.

2006 – The World’s Most Intriguing Wardrobe

The V&A in London launches “Anna Piaggi: Fashion-ology”, an entire exhibition showcasing Piaggi’s impressive vintage collection.

2012 – The End of an Era

On August 7, Piaggi dies in her home in Milan, aged 81, to be remembered as a true fashion original, an inspirational idol.

Photo:

© Victoria and Albert Museum - London, GettyImages

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