To mark the sad passing of Anna Piaggi, we revisit Susannah Frankel's text from issue 4 of AnOther Magazine which summises all that was brilliant about the legendary fashion editor...
Every so often, fashion loses a legend. Diana Vreeland, Gianni Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and the latest, Anna Piaggi who passed away in her home in Milan earlier today aged 81. Having inspired her readers, her colleagues, collaborators and friends (including Stephen Jones and Karl Lagerfeld) for decades, Piaggi leaves behind a remarkable back catalogue of work, iconic imagery and an extraordinary, unique wardrobe (2865 dresses and 265 pairs of shoes according to the V&A's 2006 exhibition dedicated to her).
To mark her sad passing, we revisit Susannah Frankel's text from issue 4 of AnOther Magazine which summises all that was brilliant about Anna - from her approach to her work, her exuberant and eclectic aesthetic and her personality – alongside portraits shot by David Bailey, styled by Camille Bidault-Waddinton.
"Anna Piaggi is one of the last great exotics - a fashion editor in the true and traditional sense of the word, in possession of the finest eye and, most importantly, sparkling intelligence and wit. She describes herself as "a surface person – I am rather superficial". She says she loves words but mainly for their graphic effect. "I read all the time. I am very fond of dictionaries and etymology."
"Anna Piaggi is one of the last great exotics - a fashion editor in the true and traditional sense of the word"
Born in Milan – "a very design conscious place" – her approach to clothing is, in the first instance, architectural. If tis sounds po-faced, the end result is far from it. "It's always a pleasure," she says. "Always musing, spontaneous and happy. A sense of humour and irony is always part of the story." A point proved in her monthly column in Italian Vogue – "Anna Piaggi D.P". It is Piaggi's own playful appearance that she is best known for. Brightening up even the most resolutely monochrome and lack lustre front row – the sight of her is nothing short of delightful. The key to the Piaggi style? Irreverence, eclecticism and years of research: she mixes new designer clothing with obscure vintage haute couture, antique fabrics, ballet costume and bric-a-brac. Her hats are, almost always, by Stephen Jones, her shoes by Manolo Blahnik, "unless they're rubber boots. Simplicity and excess live very well together, I think. It's best not to be too coordinated," Piaggi says. "They come and go the clothes. I'm not a collector or a historian. I live through the moment."
Compiled by Laura Bradley
Original text by Susannah Frankel (AnOther Magazine S/S03, issue 4)