There’s a new Anna on the fashion block – Japanese Vogue’s Italian ‘editor-at-large’ and ‘creative consultant’ Anna Dello Russo – but before I go into any more detail on her, I have to fill SYDNEY READERS in on some changes. My column The Rules is moving.
Sadly, the Essential Style supplement of the Sydney Morning Herald (which I thought was brilliant…) is finishing boo hoo.
But the good news is that the column is going to move over to the S section of the Sun Herald. This makes a lot of sense really, as it now means it will be coming out on Sunday in Sydney and Melbourne, where it appears in M magazine, with the Age.
And, of course, I secretly love that I am in the S and M sections…
For all other readers, it will continue to appear on here every Wednesday. You can subscribe right at the bottom of this page.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, the amazing Anna Dello Russo… This is the woman all the style bloggers want to snap now outside the fashion shows in New York/London/Milan/Paris – the bi-annual outing she calls the Fashion Olympics – because she always looks nothing short of amazing. Well, beyond amazing and into extraordinary actually, nosing up towards bonkers, but in a totally fashion fabulous way.
Miss Dello Russo’s idea of daywear – and she changes three times a day, with fresh looks for morning, afternoon and evening – would be a tightly-belted, tomato red, one-shoulder, micro-mini balloon dress, with towering Christian Louboutin shoes and half a ton of costume jewellery.
In the afternoon she’ll slide into a sheer black lace tube dress over bright red underwear, accessorised with a veiled hat in the shape of two giant golden cherries.
For the evening she really dresses. At French Vogue’s recent 90 year anniversary ball she wore a vast feathered headdress Montezuma would have thought a bit OTT, over a white lace mask.
A living work of art, Miss Dello Russo has taken over the fashion world role formerly occupied by the late Isabella Blow, who died four years ago. And the two women have something in common apart from a passion for wearing extraordinary hats, very high heels and dressing at the pointiest end of the fashion spectrum.
Neither of them could be described as beauties, in the classic sense.
It was something Blow was brutally frank about. “It pains me to say so,” she once said, “but I’m ugly. I know that’s subjective, so perhaps I should say instead that I’m striking. My face is like a Plantagenet portrait.”
She more than made up for it by dressing so extravagantly the whole became far greater than the sum of the parts. So even when surrounded by some of the most ravishing women in the world, at fashion events, it would be Blow who drew the eye, the attention and the admiration of that toughest of crowds.
I haven’t read any such quotes from Dello Rosso about her own looks, but while she has a marvellous figure – the result, she claims, of three hours of ashtanga yoga, every morning – and gorgeous honey-toned Southern Italian skin, she doesn’t have the neat symmetrical facial features our culture defines as beautiful.
But it’s a strong face, more than up to carrying off the wildest adornments, which would swamp a merely pretty woman. And it seems to be Della Russo’s life work to celebrate this as a one-woman, non-stop fashion fiesta.
There are many videos of her on YouTube and her own blog, and she comes over as a most upbeat and likeable character, who believes people who wear black are depressed (‘They are not well…’), and simply has a tremendously good time dressing up and posing for the fashion groupies who mob her each day.
‘I’m a total fashion victim,’ she says, laughing.
No one seems to know how she funds her passion – she has two flats in Milan, one for her and her beloved dog, another for the clothes and her 4,000 (yes, 4,000…) pairs of shoes – although presumably designers are more than eager to get their looks on to her walking billboard back.
And you have to wonder about the emotional balancing inspiring such obsessive exhibitionism, but Della Russo’s sheer enjoyment of it all is so uplifting, none of that really matters.
She’s living evidence that you are what you wear.