ANNA-CHRONIQUE ( Remembering Anna Piaggi)

Fashion

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PHOTOS EDLAND MAN

WORDS RICCARDO SLAVIK

( This piece was originally written for and published in Candy Magazine)

‘’She knows nothing of banality. She never does what one expects and yet it is always convincing. An unexpected detail, a tautology of style, a contradictory accessory, a surprising mixture, unforeseen associations of ideas and an indespensable touch of humour create a unique appearence …Dressing is her means of communication. ..’’ Karl Lagerfeld

‘’She’s about the possibility of what fashion can be. It’s not about chic, or a grand gesture, as it was with Diana Vreeland. With Anna it’s about fun and interest and frivolity. It’s her crazy jumble of things. But it’s actually not at all crazy and not at all a jumble. It’s very disciplined.’’ Stephen Jones

 
Anna Piaggi has always been an extremely visual person, such a strongly visual one that most people remember what she looked like the first time they met her even ages afterwards. My own very first time was in ’87 at a soirè at Plastic, where she was wearing a Poiret costume, from a Nabucco production at the San Carlo theatre in Naples, paired with a huge miter and a golden pastoral stick, in short she looked like the most fabulous Pope ever, and I was introduced to her twice by some very eager friends, which seemed to puzzle her slightly the second time around. How I know she was wearing a Poiret I have no idea, I just know it, she had a way of creating a Fashion Alphabet of sorts which she used to create beautiful phrases, even poems, but always with her tongue placed firmly in her cheek. She loved Fashion and clothes, but she used both to her ends, she wasn’t a curator, she was a creator, she used dresses against character, turned them upside down, layered them in the most surreal ways. Her Fashion Genius was a very personal one, her own inimitable stye could not be used for others, it would have looked ridiculous on anybody else ( as it does on anyone who tries to imitate her), but her amazing eye brought us a fabulous, if short lived, magazine, Vanity, and some iconic collaborations with the like of Antonio Lopez ( it makes sense that her somewhat ‘out of this world’ talent would work beautifully in illustrations). Being firstly a journalist, she had a marvelous way of writing about fashion, distilling the clothes through her kaleidoscopic point of view. Even though fashion journalism in Italy slowly died out in the 90s, she managed to keep us entertained with her ‘D.P.’s her visual double pages in Vogue Italia where she juxtaposed the latest shows with personal references, finding fascinating fashion alliterations in the world’s Visual Alphabet. Even more interesting, and incredibly entertaining, are the videos she filmed lately for the Vogue.it website, where she had a chance to elaborate on what inspired the month’s D.P. giving us an incredible peek inside her bright universe of knowledge and rmemories. In a world of pavid reverence towards The Brand, she would wear vintage Balenciaga padding the hips for extra effect, wear a ripped Fortuny for a chic-punk look, wash dishes in a ‘‘Cleopatra’’ costume by Sonia Delaunay, always the Iconoclast, she respected clothes for their personal history ‘’They are all things that have many lives.They have already lived.”, she told a journalist in 2004, but she would never bow to them or to the designers who created them, she always used them for her own ends as pieces of her fabulous puzzle. Sadly she was at the same time greatly respected and slightly ridiculed by different areas of the Fashion World, and her great fantasy, courage and talent had lately been slightly neglected, hers was a ‘‘futile’’, frivolous talent, one that could be committed to the page through fantastic, flowing fashion writing, or mostly, used in her own personal conversation with the world, through her ‘‘looks’’ ,the flamboyant facade she used to entertain herself and communicate with the outside world. Her legacy will not only be in the ‘‘Lagerfeld Sketchbook’’ book, which illustrates a decade of Anna’s styling experiments on herself through Karl’s drawings, and the ‘‘Fashion Algebra’’ of her collected DPs for Vogue, but mostly in the memory of all who had read her, known her or seen her, however briefly, and were forever inspired to love Fashion in a way that was outside of The Ordinary.

R.S.

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