EFM Exclusive Story - Nippon Vogue Fashion Director at Large Anna Dello Russo




Christian Dior
Paris Fashion Week A/W 2011/2012
Photo: Francois Durand/Getty Europe

he fashion industry recognizes her as the 'fashion icon', with her daring, exquisite, and bold sense of style.  This fashion icon has always been a fashion sensation, wearing the latest collections right off the fashion runway.  She is the epitome of fashion.  Anna just doesn't wear fashion, she is fashion. She has previously been described as the fashion maniac by the late brilliant legendary Helmut Newton.  Having a delightful conversation with Anna Dello Russo, I was quite surprised with her humbleness and poise.






“My career in fashion started a long time ago,” she laughs. “I graduated from University and then I came to Milan.”  Anna studied and obtained a Fashion Master at the Domus Academy. “Which at the time was a very prestigious school, my teacher was Gianfranco Ferrè at the time, and he was the master of fashion and designer [In 1984 Gianfranco Ferrè was named the Designer of the year]. After my Masters I had an interview with Franca Sozzani [who took over Italian Vogue in 1988] she was looking for a new fashion staff for Italian Vogue, this was 21 years ago. I became a fashion editor for Italian Vogue, of course with Franca, she made me what I am today and she gave me an incredible opportunity to really learn everything about images, fashion, and quality. I Worked next to her for 12 years.  During that time, I began to really build my career as a fashion editor.  You have to learn everything; photography, styling, models, everything.” Anna describes her experience at Italian Vogue as being a place of really learning everything about fashion.  “Best school”, says Anna.  “After 12 years at Italian Vogue as a Fashion Editor, Franca proposed me to do L'Uomo Vogue as the Editor-in-Chief.  That was another experience because you have to direct a magazine, and it was really different from what I use to do.  It was another challenge and I made it.” After being the Editor-in-Chief of L’Uomo for 6 years, Anna decided to change her life and become a freelancer. “I preferred to do that because it made my life easier, also my personal life different.  I became the creative consultant and fashion director at large for Japan Vogue. That's almost my career so far,” she says. 




“She gave me really a lot of advice; she always kept me thinking; its not just about test, fashion is not just about blue coat, clothes or outfit; but fashion is more deep, you should always study photography and understand the language of photography to really understand how deep is fashion, because its a   communication of a message, its just not about clothes. At the beginning I was so passionate about fashion; I love clothes, because I was collecting clothes. I was mostly into the clothes, like the brand and the designer, but I didn't understand in the beginning the process. To get beyond the clothes to understand the processing, the clothes became a sign meaning something else, like a message of costume, culture, education, and attitude which is fantastic; its all about the woman kind of life style. When it started it was completely into the 80s now it's more of superstar than super designer; everything was super,” she laughs.  “Fashion changes so much.  If I was in just a fashion meeting I would be confused.  Because of Franca, I learned so much on how to make a magazine, to describe the revolution, costume, the society, the attitude, and the culture. Then I really proceeded to be part of this revolution, in the 80s to the 90s and then the New Century. You should really be connected to art, to the music, movies all these things really relate to fashion.”




“I used to travel a lot. When I started working in fashion, my life was in the plane. I always traveled so much.  When I used to be at Italian Vogue as the Fashion Editor, I traveled every month. I was never at home, I was traveling around the world; now to me to travel to Japan or New York is not a problem because I think that fashion makes the world really small, it makes everything a connection, its a deep language.  I really don't need to be in Japan to be in New York, just a little bit tiring because its more of a 12 hour flight.  With the internet you can be connecting with people every day.  I see often my team at the Fashion Shows, which is really often.  Summer, Winter, or Haute Couture, we meet around the world.  We talk twice during the season, and then we connect by the internet every day.  But, also my team is not actually just in Japan, but my production is in New York, my fashion editor is in New York too, my team is here in Milan, we are really like the world most global team, no two people are in the same city, we are around the world.”  Anna, manages her time very strategically following up daily each morning with conference calls to Japan Vogue around five o'clock in the morning, following up with her New York team, her day ends around nine o'clock at night.  “Its really a world-wide job,” says Anna.




“The shopping for sure,” we laugh.  “Shopping to me I love [she describes herself as being a fountain of fresh water], I love fashion.  I am the fountain,” says Anna, “I can catch the right clothes the first moment when it goes out, because Im always next to the best places, like in Milan, I go to the Italian brand; Paris, I go the Parisian brand; New York ,I go to American brand.  Its like a priority to shop.  I can have the first options, always.”  Anna gives an example:  “Its a little joke, we connect with all the news, all the little things that happen in fashion, it's like you are in the middle of the square, put in the middle of the clue, where everything happens.  I was thinking in my Italian expression ‘like to be in the square, because everything is in the square, if you like to meet the people to be social, meet boyfriend, you should go in the square’; where all the people meet each other. Like being in fashion, you’re in the right time at the right moment and you know the real time.  I came from South Italy, and if I was there I would take the magazine to the news. I would have to wait a month to know what happens, because the magazine goes out monthly. With the internet, I can catch the right news, the right clothes, the right moment, because in South Italy you're a bit far away.”  





“I love the internet because you can talk to everybody; your mom, to your grandmother, to you, to your sister, it's incredible how it opens the mind, being connected to people, who before, you could never touch. This is what I love about the web because it gives you the opportunity to talk to everybody and to amuse different people.”  Anna says that before it was like a little clan, no one knew anyone.  “We didn't have many contacts with people.  We used to be really into our world. But now the internet made it more of a democratic approach, which I love because everybody can give an opinion, and it's bringing another point of view. We can relate to the world more than what we used to.”  Anna describes ‘fashion’ as a muse, something that cannot be put in a cage.  She also states that the internet revolutionized the fashion world and turned it upside down.  “That's why now, I love to talk to the people,” she says; “I wish to have time to talk to people outside our little world, it makes me think different things,” [creativity].   




Anna laughs; “I mean, well lots of stuff,” she giggles; “luckily I know what you see in fashion.  What people don't know about me?  One thing is everyone asks me, ‘what are you wearing’.  I go to yoga every morning I wear my fleece, Abercrombie, which some were a little disappointed”, saying to Anna while she goes to yoga, ‘oh I cannot see you like that’, Anna says to me, “you know they come with a comment, that I find really funny, no one wants to see me not wearing designer clothes, ‘not dressed up’.  Everybody expects me to always dress up in fashion. I have a part of a normal life, I mean if I go to yoga, I don't go with my high heels and my Dolce & Gabbana clothes. There is a part of me that is really simple, where I love to be like bare; wearing fleece from Abercrombie and go to yoga with no fashion world around me.  There is a part of me that is really simple, not structured, really spontaneous.  But people don't like it. ‘Do you know what I'm saying?’ Anna says to me.  They say to me ‘oh my God, you should be different’, ‘oh Ma Mia’, she says.  If I go out from my house, I always think if I meet people, I should be in the same ‘look’, you know, because people don’t like me like that. I also like to be out of the fashion ‘sometimes,’” she laughs.  ‘I think everyone needs a break,’ I said to Anna with a laugh.  Anna replies; “‘yea I know, I need a little bit of break’.   It's strange how people can comment on your life of what they want you to wear.”  Anna just says to them ‘as you wish’, we laughed.  “I'm like, take what you want from me.”



“I speak Italian, French and English, but I’m really not very well in language, just Italian; I always say that I'm dyslexic since I was a kid. Some part of me I don't care because I'm Italian, we have this certain approach about language, you jump into it, and you don't care if you’re not really correct.  I desperately need to make a conversation with people.” Anna learned how to speak English through working in the industry. “Language has really changed over time. It's different to study language and speak it. You must always learn the new expression, but sometimes I don't really care if I don't get the correct expression, people understand me and that's important.” 



“I don't wear the same outfit twice.   If I have a party in my country I can wear twice because nobody knows.”  Anna enjoys surprising people.  She says, if people recognize the look she will not wear it. “It's difficult twice, once is okay. Now, of course, I have my obsession ‘closet’. I like wardrobe since I was young when I moved to my country, Milan.  My Mother said, ‘oh finally we have a space in the house’, because I would store every piece of my clothing in every place of the house. I always collected them, my Mother and Father says, ‘we need another house for Anna because she collects everything.’  My father opens his closet, he says; ‘you always store stuff, this is difficult for me storing and collecting.’”  Anna says that when she moved to Milano she had an apartment for herself and an apartment for her clothes.  “Now I can be organized, everything is completely categorized, very strategically organized and luckily I have two apartments.  But, now this apartment is already full,” we laughed.   Anna says. “‘I don't know what I'm going to do.’ I used to say in the other interviews; ‘my boyfriend doesn’t live with me because he doesn’t have space for clothes.  I don't know now what has happened. Girlfriend’s apartment is full, boyfriend does not live with me; I need a third one, I don't know, whatever,’” Anna laughs. 





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