Remembering Anna Piaggi

Anna Piaggi. Image courtesy of
Anna Piaggi. Image courtesy of
Anna Piaggi. Image courtesy of

I will probably name my daughter Anna. It seems like the name is destined for greatness in the fashion industry. Look at Anna Wintour who is arguably one of the most powerful people in Fashion or Anna Dello Russo whose style is so daring that it makes the attention hoggers standing in front of fashion shows run to shame.

There is, however, one other Anna. I exalt Anna Piaggi in the same breathe only reserved for the likes of Isabella Blow or Diana Vreeland. My exposure with her and her work is deeply personal. It is because, the late Piaggi and Blow are one of the reasons why I am in love with fashion. Their feverish passion and eclectic styles really translated to what fashion is all about. Miss Piaggi’s style came from the source of expressing herself instead of shamelessly hunting for style photographers to be photographed.

The fashion world and I were deeply saddened by her death. The legendary Italian Vogue Editor died at the age of 81 a few years ago. She left not only a legacy but also her enormous collection of hats.

anna piaggi collage

Now there is a chance to see her collection of 804 hats that used to sit precariously in her Milan home, hanging on the racks next to her famous 1969 scarlet typewriter, “Valentine”. She never gave up her manual typewriter, she wrote her pages till the end through that device.

Steven Jones, her personal friend, decided to create an exhibition at Milan’s Palazzo Morando called the “Hat-o-logy” (until November 30, 2013). The exhibit consists of four rooms representing her work room, filled with antiquated furniture as a backdrop to the hats, and her bathroom, where a series of hats make a digital journey through a make-believe washing machine and where glass-front cabinets are filled with hats from designers.

It is almost impossible to imagine Anna Piaggi without her hats because for her, hats always came first. With her crimson lips, rouged cheeks, electric blue hair, Piaggi infused not only her unique self expression but also her unique take on fashion through her travel and articles.

I do not think there will be someone who could replace the personae that is Piaggi, but one thing we can be certain of is that Piaggi’s legacy is going to live on through her hats –  in museum and in her life.

by Stefanus Wong