Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Anna dello Russo

Perhaps an introduction is in order, considering my readership. She's the 50 year old editor at large of Vogue Japan, with  a long career as a fashion editor at Conde Nast, known for her wacky style or for wearing her age badly, depends which camp you are in. Here is an overview of her style, in that characteristic not-sure-whether-to-laugh-or-applaud tone. On October 4th her gaudy, baroque-inspired collection of accessories for H&M will be in stores. In the promotional video she appears youthful and glowing, no trace of wrinkles or of sagging skin on her knees. If you're very curious (or for some laughs), it's just the kind of thing that gives fashion a bad name, and it's very hard to tell whether it's innocent or self-conscious:

She became a style icon a few years ago, largely thanks to Scott Schumann of The Sartorialist, who featured her often. She makes a point of never wearing an outfit more than once, and packs up to 90 of them for each fashion week. And as it often happens, I wasn't able to sympathize with her before I read what she herself had to say about fashion and her clothes:

As I once told Scott [Schuman, The Sartorialist], "thanks for giving me another career", after years as a fashion editor. It's as if suddenly the cameras were turned and pointing towards me. Us lot were invisible; there was the model, the photographer and a whole team of people. When the camera turned to us it enabled us to start a new career. The styling work was the same, only done to myself. And so when the whole thing happened I was prepared, I knew what to do. The whole streetstyle thing these days is like a job, it's all planned and thought up in advance; it's not as though you just "happen" to run into one another. Outfits are prepared in advance... I just hope it doesn't end up making it lose its spontaneity and make it become fake.

 I get ready like six months beforehand. I edit the clothes (about 90 outfits for each fashion week) I think of what would look good on camera. It's good to change and be full of suprises, even while staying true to your style... A variation of style; it's exactly like working as a fashion editor, you need to keep the surprises coming or it gets boring. We need "new blood"; same style, different looks. 

I'm a collector but I collect incredible pieces only, no daywear! I really love garments with lots of imagination, lost of history; I try to imagine that if I died my clothing could go on to be shown in a museum, who wants to see a plain white shirt? So I think.. "Is that something people would want to see in the future?"... Something with a bit of flair.

That part about no daywear? And how she says in the video that fashion has to be uncomfortable? Never thought I'd say this, but I think I sort of understand. Because it made me more aware of my utilitarian approach to clothes. I always put myself first. It has to suit me, it has to fit me, it has to evoke me, it has to make me comfortable, it has to make it easier for me to pair it with other stuff, it has to be neutral an versatile so that I get every cent's worth from it, and it has to be low maintenance so that it doesn't give me trouble. I basically have two kinds of clothes: workhorses, and stuff I never wear because they turned out not to be workhorses and now I'm either too reverential or too unimaginative to include it into my daywear circuit. Now, with Anna, it seems, it's all about the clothes. It matters not that she'll be uncomfortable, that she'll be looked at and criticized, that she'll have all these expensive and demanding items to store and care for. She makes fashion a priority in a way that I find respectful and humbling. I could never ever do that, but I'm glad there are people who make it their goal in life.

That said, I still find her collection for H&M cheap-looking and hammy. But I'm beginning to let myself conquered by her integrity. And perhaps I would wear this crocodile necklace:

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