|Anna Piaggi. Source: telegraph.co.uk.|
Anna Piaggi, an iconic fashion journalist and style icon once referred to as "the world's last great authority on frocks" by Manolo Blahnik, died in her Milan home today, aged 81. With her passing, the fashion industry has irretrievably lost a great deal of colour.
As a regular fixture on fashion week front rows, it was hard to miss Piaggi's dramatic outfits, easily distinguishable face, collection of quirky hats and vibrant blue hair. As The Sartorialist elucidated in August 2009, "I know she is a little over dramatic, but every time I see Anna Piaggi she forces me to really consider her mix of patterns, colors and genres - I love that. She is a true, modren [sic] Style Icon."
Her influence upon the fashion world extended far and wide. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have been quoted praising her unique and quirky compilation of outfits, describing her as "creative, eccentric and unpredictable, with a great knowledge of the history of fashion." Although you could easily be fooled into thinking her flamboyant combinations of various ensembles are the brainwave of a five-minute mad dash out the door, one of her favourite milliners, Stephen Jones, claims her style is "actually not at all crazy and not at all a jumble. It's very disciplined." For photographer Bill Cunningham, she was a "fine poet in clothes."
With a personal wardrobe estimated to contain roughly 2,865 dresses, 932 hats, 31 feather boas and 265 pairs of shoes, it seemed an inevitable outcome when the Victoria & Albert museum in London announced it would be showcasing an entire exhibition based on Piaggi's remarkable fashion metier under the title of "Anna Piaggi Fashion-ology." As Monica Lombardi explains for Vogue Italia, the colourful display of couture, vintage and designer clothing from Piaggi's own archive held a depth far greater than the eccentric colour and flamboyance first suggested to the untrained eye. "It tells the woman through her way of dressing… Her most eccentric outfits are an imaginary article of pure intellectualism," Lombardi writes.
There really was an erudite sophistication to Piaggi's choice of clothing that forecast the movement of the fashion industry years before it ever gained similar enlightenment. As Lombardi goes on to explain, Piaggi "lived between the rational and the irrational, showing how many cages block the modern society… She used to wear 'vintage' clothes, when that word didn't exist yet."
With such unique insight into the trajectory of fashion, it is unsurprising that Piaggi built up a celebrated writing reputation premised on respect and intelligence. As an extensive contributor to various publications, most notably including Vogue Italia, she had unprecedented influence on the future of fashion journalism. "Anna Piaggi was a great inspiration on me. What a brilliant and original woman," wrote Ari Seth Cohen, the mastermind behind the fashion blog Advanced Style, earlier today. As Lombardi eloquently summarises, her success is unquestionably due to the fact that "Anna does not only write about fashion, she is the fashion."
What made Piaggi so unique is that she embodied everything that the fashion industry aims to represent: creativity, flair, personality and style. Her clothing choices didn't often coordinate with the perfect precision and flawlessly carved out trends desired and followed by some of the top runway designers. Her take on colours, patterns, fabrics and shapes was out-of-the-box. However, whatever bright and colourful predilection took her fancy each day, it was always spot on.
Karl Lagerfeld once said of Piaggi, "she invents fashion. In her way to dress, she automatically does what we will do tomorrow." Although today has become the final tomorrow, Piaggi is a style icon whose dramatic influence upon the fashion industry will not be lost in any hurry.
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