I JUST ADORED ANNA PIAGGI
The fashion world has gone monochrome with the passing of Italian journalist and fashion eccentric Anna Piaggi yesterday, aged 81.
Piaggi was a familiar figure in the front row of international fashion shows and a snaparazzi favourite for her absurdist self-expression through appearance – the wacky outfits, often vintage garments mixed with extravagant contemporary pieces that few could pull off; the blue hair; the dashing capes; the jaunty little hats; the parasols; the crazy shoes and the defiantly over-made-up face, like that of a madam in a fin-de-siecle brothel.
Piaggi never seemed to care that this was unseemly behaviour for a woman of her ‘certain’ age. In fact, I think she rejoiced in it.
I adored her. I first met her in the 1980s in Paris, at some fashion show or the other. I knew the wonderful Vern Lambert, the Australian fashion historian, who was Anna’s companion and ‘curator’ (she was married to the Italian photographer Alfa Castaldi, who died in 1995.)
Anna’s legend had preceded her.
I knew someone who had been to the famous dinner where she had worn a brace of freshly killed pheasants on her head.
As the dinner progressed, the blood dripping from the pheasants congealed and the dead birds reeked. It was not perhaps her finest fashion moment but it is one of the most remembered.
I was sure she would be some kind of monster but she was charming, curious, empathetic.
She was also thoughtful. It was she who convinced her great friend and collaborator Karl Lagerfeld to use the opal prints of another good friend, Jenny Kee, in his first-ever collection for Chanel.
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