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Anna Dello Russo: La Dolce Vita

The fashion superstar on bloggers, working with Franca Sozzani, the power of the internet and plans to release a record

PhotographyRobin SinhaTextKin Woo

As it would be readily apparent to those with even a passing interest in fashion; Anna Dello Russo, the larger than life, hyper glamorous editor-at-large of Vogue Nippon and undisputed darling of the street style blogs, doesn’t do minimal. Meeting her at the V&A Museum after a talk for Peroni Collaborazioni (hosted by Gianluca Longo), she stalks the grounds in a leather and gold Fausto Puglisi dress with thigh-high boots showing off her enviably yoga-toned legs and a diamond tiara resplendent on her head – she fits in beautifully if incongruously among the rare and priceless artefacts of the museum.

Bloggers are making a new revolution by making new content in fashion. They are between new paparazzi and a new type of fashion journalist – it’s a new point of view

After years toiling anonymously behind the scenes as fashion editor at Vogue Italia and then editor of L’Uomo Vogue, her theatrical, showstopping style was revealed to the world in 2006 with the explosion of blogging. Displaying a remarkable prescience, Dello Russo cultivated friendships with influential bloggers like Scott Schuman and Tommy Ton, who were only too delighted to capture her in her fashion week glory (where she would change up to five times in a day) in fantastical outfits ranging from feathered Roksanda Ilincic, bejewelled Mary Katrantzou, Lanvin cocktail dresses and sequined Balmain.

Fashion is an evolving language and I’ll never get sick of that. Fashion is shared. It connects people. And we share an experience beyond the clothes

She may have famously got married in a one-off creation by her friends, Dolce & Gabbana then got divorced shortly thereafter in a funereal Balenciaga suit, but her life is exactly where she wants it now – she’s a front row fixture and self created internet star with her own blog, an entire climate-controlled apartment for her archive of clothes and even a perfume to her name. Dazed spoke to her about the revolution of the internet, her scientific approach to dressing and whether she has any time for romance in her life.

Dazed Digital: You talk about being born into fashion. What is your first fashion memory?
Anna Dello Russo:
 When I was 12, my father asked me what I wanted and I told him I wanted a Fendi bag. Then when we went to the Fendi store, I told him I also wanted a Fendi coat, umbrella, handbag, wallet and key chain. He said, “Why do you want an umbrella? It doesn’t rain here in Bari!” I told him, “Father, it’s part of the look!”

DD: How does your Italian heritage affect your approach to fashion?
Anna Dello Russo:
 I think we have a sense of colour and a sense of fabric. We grew up with art all around us. For me, I’m an extreme person, I’m completely fascinated by eccentricity. I’m schizophrenic – I don’t know what I am. So I like to play with myself.

DD: You spent the early part of your career working at Vogue Italia with Franca Sozzani. What’s the most important thing you learnt from her?
Anna Dello Russo: 
I spent 18 years working with her. She was my mentor. It was the best school ever – it was a great chance to start with her. After this tough schooling in the Nineties, everything was possible.

DD: When did you first become aware of the power of the internet?
Anna Dello Russo:
 Right at the beginning. Because it happened to me. I remember the first time I was photographed by Scott (Schuman). I was asking my friend, “Who’s this?” I was told he was a blogger. I thought he was going to use my picture for a porno blog! It was all so different then. But I understood the power of media immediately. I understood I had to jump on that otherwise I would look really old fashioned. In the beginning, everyone was so different about being photographed.

But I thought that we should do it – we should be visible and be photographed and feel confident with this new approach. Bloggers are making a new revolution by making new content in fashion. They are between new paparazzi and a new type of fashion journalist – it’s a new point of view.

DD: What was the most challenging thing for you when you started blogging?
Anna Dello Russo:
 When I started, I didn’t know what I was doing. But I didn’t want to be part of the old world. Through the web I reach a new audience. For me in this job, you have to keep your eyes fresh – it’s a never ending job. You have to watch out for new designers, new trends. Now with the web, my job is more varied and versatile. For me there is no distinction anymore between being a fashion editor and a blogger – they are very, very close now. It’s close to what I do, the projection is similar. The blog is more about me because I do by myself and a guy – basta! But through my eyes, I try to talk about general fashion.

DD: Do you think of yourself as a walking editorial? Through your blog, you post an outfit of yourself and get comments back immediately. Do you enjoy the instant feedback?
Anna Dello Russo:
 Actually that’s the hard part because the comments are not all good. But it’s part of the game. But sometimes I don’t want to read any comments because I can get hurt. But it’s okay – I can deal with this one.

DD: You spent so many years working behind the scenes and now you have a perfume and a website - are you comfortable promoting yourself as a brand?
Anna Dello Russo:
 I was talking about this with Jefferson yesterday at the airport! Everyone is an evolution of our job. We spend so many years working in fashion and we used to be corporate. But now we try to express a more individual point of view. I think that’s good for us. He said to me, “You have to be versatile. Otherwise you will be old-fashioned.” I thought that’s good!

DD: Is all this openness, blogging and tweeting and social media good for fashion? Are we losing any of its mystique?
Anna Dello Russo:
I think it’s good. At one point, fashion was very much in a closed world which is not good for fashion. Now it’s a good time to be open. Slowly we will find a balance between a more mysterious approach and a democratic approach.

DD: Do you ever get sick talking about fashion?
Anna Dello Russo:
 So far no because I’m really fascinated by it. Fashion is an evolving language and I’ll never get sick of that. Fashion is shared. It connects people. And we share an experience beyond the clothes.

DD: What is your scientific approach to fashion week?
Anna Dello Russo:
 Absolutely nothing is left to chance. I’m so organized – I do a lot of research before. I save the stuff six months before for fashion week. It’s like a preparation. This is my fashion story.

DD: You’re unique among editors in that you seem to really enjoy and are passionate about fashion – were you always this way?
Anna Dello Russo:
 Yes because we have to celebrate fashion. I’ve always been so brave. Before I put all my energies into the corporate job. I was doing my training then. I wanted to be professional. Now that I am professional, I want to express myself. I think I did it the right way. I think everything came at the right time. When I used to do my fashion shooting, I was working with the best photographers but I had no assistant, no money and lots of luggage. But now I think it’s the right time to provocate. I have a responsibility to improve fashion.

DD: You are an internet celebrity and you have a whole apartment devoted to clothes. Is there any room in your life for romance?
Anna Dello Russo:
 I think I’m obsessed with people. Of course my job is my life – that’s why I didn’t have a family because I spent all my energy on my job. My love is that I’m born to do this job. That’s why I don’t have a family. Of course there is love in my life but it’s not institutional love-family, children – it’s more of a relationship.

DD: What’s next after fashion for you?
Anna Dello Russo:
I hope to release a record!