Even if you only glanced at a picture in passing, the image of Anna Piaggi would have undoubtedly left an imprint in your memory: her blue marcel curls, rouge-dotted cheeks, flamboyant hats and colourful, pattern-clashing clothes were an unmistakable fixture on the front row, one that will be sorely missed as the fashion world learns today of the 81-year-old’s passing.
Piaggi was born in Milan in 1931, and broke into the editorial world as a translator at the Mondadori publishing house. She moved into fashion journalism as the fashion editor of Italy’s first women’s magazine Arianna in the ‘60s, and began contributing to Vogue Italia in the ‘70s. She’s began writing for everything from Vanity Fair to L’Espresso, and as her editorial page count grew, so did her eccentric wardrobe. Her 2865 dresses and 265 pairs of shoes were celebrated in a Topshop-sponsored, Victoria & Albert Museum exhibit entitled “Fashion-ology” in 2006, while friend and admirer Karl Lagerfeld documented over 250 sketches of her many looks in Lagerfeld’s Sketchbook.
Though the exact circumstances of her death aren’t known yet, the industry has already taken to Twitter with an outpouring of remembrance and fond words of the Milanese style icon.
“23 anni di lavoro insieme, migliaia di D.P. realizzate insieme. Ti ricorderò sempre Anna,” Franca Sozzani tweeted today, which translated reads: “23 years of working together, thousands of D.P. [Doppie Pagine - double-page spreads] realized together. You will always be remembered Anna.” Piaggi’s fantastical double-page spreads for Vogue Italia were one of the things she was most famous for, and a collection of her most memorable D.P.’s were documented in her own book Fashion Algebra.
Stefano Gabbana, who was reportedly the first to break the news of Piaggi’s death, tweeted: “RIP Anna Piaggi… :((((( ciao grande Anna!!!”
Piaggi’s always inspiring presence will be greatly missed, but her legacy as “the world’s last great authority on frock,” as described by Manolo Blahnik, will undoubtedly live on.
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