ANNA PIAGGI (1931-2012)
“Sometimes, the show is in the audience. The regular members of the fashion pack are well versed in the science of self-presentation, and the lengths to which they go are often amusing, sometimes instructive…. Anna Piaggi, a fashion columnist and a longtime fixture on the Italian fashion scene, furnished her colleagues with a veritable miniseries, turning up each day in some new getup, such as (to cite only one) a Chanel No. 5 T-shirt; gray gabardine trousers; a fur-collared coat in moss-green wool gathered and draped like an Austrian window shade; a furry black hat trimmed with feathers and a rust grosgrain band; a needlepoint bag; a walking stick; and fuchsia lipstick.”
The above could’ve been written in 2012. But it wasn’t. Holly Brubach’s report from the collections, which appeared in The New Yorker, dates back to 1988. (The giveaway line immediately follows: “It occurred to me that Lacroix has simply institutionalized what Piaggi has been doing for years.”) These days, “street style” is a genre all its own, but few, if any, of its practitioners will ever be as accomplished in the science of self-presentation as Anna Piaggi, the longtime Vogue Italiacontributor who died today at the age of 81. As influential as her magazine work may be (she was famous for her “D.P.s,” or doppie pagine spreads in Italian Vogue), her own style was even more so. Her friend Karl Lagerfeld sketched her for years. Her admirers among the Italian designers were many, and as recently as last season, a younger generation was tacking up her photo on studio walls, styling collections alla Anna. Marc Jacobs name-checked her as one of the fashion eccentrics who inspired his daffy Fall ‘12 collection, and Katie Grand, who styles Jacobs’ Louis Vuitton collection in Paris, revealed that Piaggi—as seen by photographer Peter Schlesinger in his photo scrapbook A Chequered Past—was a “huge influence” for the Fall Vuitton collection, too. “One of my favorite things was to sit across from her at the Dolce & Gabbana men’s show, especially in miserable January, and see what fabulous creation she had on her head,” Grand says. “For me, she was that very good mix of well put together and eccentric. Clothes never looked silly on her, just interesting and considered. She had the best color sensibility of everyone in fashion, I think.”
The upcoming season will be dimmer without Piaggi’s presence.