Anna Piaggi, who died yesterday at the age of 81, once told me [Mickey Boardman] that on a trip to London she visited 87 boutiques in one weekend. That’s a commitment to fashion.
The Italian fashion editor and style icon was adored by fashion fans worldwide for her always-eye-popping personal style. Although she dressed wildly there was an analytical approach to her sartorial choices. When I interviewed her in 1998 (which is re-printed in full below), she told me “Once in awhile I try on what I have and I see…. It’s like the word ‘algebra.’ It goes really by reduction and deduction. It’s a little bit mathematical and scientific.” At the time she was obsessed with clinical work clothes. That summer she had been wearing pharmacy jackets — one from Margiela and one that the Chanel dressing room attendants wore. She told me she longed to come to the United States to see all the amazing uniforms workers in this country wore. She was particularly interested in the aprons at McDonalds.
Piaggi got her start as an editor in the 1960s at Ariadne and later became a contributing editor to Italian Vogue. She was the subject of an exhibit in 2006 at the Victoria & Albert museum in London which claimed her collection included 2865 dresses and 265 pairs of shoes. Three of her greatest partners-in-crime were the designer Karl Lagerfeld, milliner Stephen Jones and shoe designer Manolo Blahnik. Piaggi told me, “I think that the head and the feet can make an extraordinary look.” When I asked her if she wore her signature flamboyant costumes to the office she responded, “Also for the supermarket. My life is quite normal. But I enjoy dressing all the time.” And fashion addicts around the world enjoyed her dressing as well. The world will be a lot less fabulous without her.