Style check: a farewell to Anna Piaggi

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 August, 2012, 6:37pm

Scouring street-style blogs has always been part of my seasonal pre-fashion week preparation. Gearing up for the next round of shows means also seeing what the in-crowd will be snapped wearing in the front row.

But those of us who are not chauffeur-driven tend to dress more practically. Five-inch Margiela nail boots, a sheer Givenchy skirt, and several outfit changes in tow are no good for running around all day on the Paris Metro.

Last week, the death of 81-year-old Italian fashion editor Anna Piaggi reminded us that before the blogs existed, there were brave souls who championed outrageous style.

Piaggi was known for her finger-waved bright blue hair and wild outfits that would set tongues wagging. Making a name for herself as a fashion journalist in the 1960s at Italian
Vogue, she was long a front-row leading lady.

Her extensive wardrobe even commanded its own exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London six years ago.

Piaggi championed a madcap, film noir-style of make-up comprising a powdered white face, lipstick emphasising the cupid's bow of her lips, heavy kohl-lined eyes, and rosy circles painted on her cheeks.

She was ahead of her time because she had a brave originality and unwavering commitment to her own sartorial eccentricity. Today plenty of hipsters mimic Piaggi's style in the hope of being noticed.

News of her death drew an outpouring of grief and tributes - an impressive ode to one of the last true style eccentrics who, despite being Italian, often liked to wrap herself in Union Jacks.

The image of Piaggi, often seen wearing gigantic colourful furs, inflatable headpieces and clutching a cane well into her 70s, is going to be missed.