There was a time when fashion journalists and stylists were invisible beings, who only worked behind the scenes of photoshoots and social events. All the media attention was for the models on the runway and celebrities on the red carpet, but no one knew who was the author of articles on fashion magazines or the creator of an outfit. Things have changed thanks to Anna Wintour, the omnipotent editor-in-chief of Vogue U.S., and to Rachel Zoe, the stylist behind the boho-chic trend: they have been the first journalist and the first stylist who have come out of the shadow and have become celebrities themselves.
This is the reason why blogs which spot fashion editors during the fashion weeks are so popular: fashion editors and stylists are not as unapproachable as famous actresses and singers, they are examples of a more relaxed style and they sometimes launch trends (just think of the skinny jeans/killer heels of the Voguettes, the fashion editors of Vogue Paris). One of the few journalists who never compromise with the current trends and always dress to look nothing less than gorgeous is Anna Dello Russo , the fashion director of Vogue Nippon. Her colourful, flamboyant and refined style is difficult to copy (just think she wears haute couture or exceptional pret-a-porter pieces in the morning), but she is an example of what is the true meaning of fashion, i.e. experimenting with clothes and accessories, volumes and colours.
She’s so special that the July 2009 issue of Vogue Nippon – about fashion and manga comics – contains a one-shot manga about her life. Before showing you the story, I absolutely have to spend a few words about the author, the great Riyoko Ikeda. As a teenager in the 80s, I couldn’t escape the irresistible charm of Lady Oscar, loosely based on the story of Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution, hugely famous in Italy. This cartoon – or I’d better say anime – was based on the shōjo manga Berusaiyu no Bara (The Roses of Versailles), probably the most renowned work by Ikeda.
I personally jumped on my chair when I realized Ikeda was the author of Anna’s Story, because I loved Lady Oscar so much! I love how Riyoko Kineda has turned Anna Dello Russo into the protagonist of a manga: her drawing style is recognizable, but she has turned the kawaii factor a little bit down.
Beneath each board you can find the translation from Japanese to English. I’d like to thank my friend Andrea (who lives in Tokyo) for being so kind and fast in translating these for me.
Spring 1962. Bari, a town in South Italy.
The girl who will give a great support to the fashion industry was born.
Mother:”This girl is so sweet! She looks like an angel!” Father:”Let’s name her Anna”. Anna (thinking):”Mum, dad, the clothes you’re wearing today are so unfitting!”.
When they came back home from their trips abroad, Anna’s parents gave her some traditional costumes as presents.
Anna:”Do you like my outfit? I’m a Mexican! And now I’m a Chinese!”. Mother:”Bellissima! You’re so nice, but now please stop playing!”.
When she started attending the primary school, Anna started to carefully think about her outfits.
Anna:”Today I’d love to wear an all-pink outfit. Mum, can I borrow your bag?”. Anna:”Tomorrow I’ll wear the yellow dress, so I need matching gold jewellery”. Mum:”Oh, Anna. Why don’t you juust wear tees and jeans, like anybody else?”.
Anna:”Mum, I don’t like child clothes”. Anna:”I like clothes with an inspirational design”.
Precocious young Anna started working on what would soon become her job. At seven years old, she started keeping her own fashion archive.
Anna:”One day I’ll buy everything Fendi!”.
The secondary school started. Anna:”Why don’t we swap your mother’s Versace skirt for my jeans, just for today?”.
Anna:”Can we swap your mother’s Armani blouse for my t-shirt?”. Friend:”Ok”.
Friend’s mum:”Hey! That’s my Armani dress!”.
She went sunbathing with her new friend Alessandra. Alessandra:“Italian girls must be tanned”. Anna:”The sun! Hooray!”.
Doctor to Anna’s mum:”They’ve had a sunstroke!”.
Time went by. Anna and Alessandra decided to open a clothing shop in her town. Anna’s father didn’t agree with her decision, so she – frustrated – would end up studying fashion in Milan.
Anna’s mum:”At last I’ll have more room in my closet!”.
After finishing her studies at university, she started working as an assistant at Condè Nast Italia.
Anna:”They’re looking for fashion editors at Vogue”. Friend:”What a great opportunity!”. Friend:”I guess there will be lots of candidates”.
Condè Nast interviewer:”Anna Dello Russo, do you speak English?”. Anna:”Ehm, just a little French”. Condè Nast intervewer:”Ok, so today you’ll start attending an English course at Berlitz School”. Anna:”What? Does this mean I’ve got the job?”.
Anna worked as fashion editor for 12 years. The problem was that she never stayed in Milan more than two days in a row.
Anna:”I want to eat anything but hamburgers!”. Anna:”I want to spend Christmas with my family!”.
Condè Nast senior editor:”Well done!”. Condè Nast senior editor:”And your new photoshoot is in Africa”. Anna:”What???”.
When 33 years old, she got married with an assistant photographer she had met at work but… Husband:”Where shall we go for our honeymoon?”. Anna:”I cannot have a honeymoon. Tomorrow I’m leaving for another photoshoot”.
When she came back from the photoshoot, her husband was gone. They divorced after six months of marriage.
The great photographer Helmut Newton appreciated Anna’s work a lot. Helmut Newton:”I’d love to take a portrait of you”. Helmut Newton:”Stand there”.
In the portrait she was wearing a Yamamoto trench coat and she was smoking a cigarette. When the portrait appeared in several magazines, her fame raised.
Before being appointed editor-in-chief, she brilliantly passed a state exam. She worked as editor-in-chief at L’Uomo Vogue for six years.
After some years and a quick evolution in her career, in 2006 Anna was spending some time in a villa in South Italy.
Anna:”Hello, Anna’s speaking. Hey, boss…”. Condè Nast boss:”The position of fashion director at Vogue Nippon is vacant.” Condè Nast boss:”Would you like filling it?”. Anna:”What???”.
Anna:”Good morning, Saori. Please take care of Kate Moss’ outfit for the upcoming cover photoshoot”. Anna:”Mitsuko, great news! Mert and Marcus will do the cover photoshoot”.
Anna has salmon and traditional Japanese food (including miso soup, tofu and rice) for breakfast. At six o’clock in the morning she practices yoga and swimming. As the fashion editor of Vogue Nippon, she constantly travels (New York, Milan, Paris, Tokio).
Journalists:”Anna, Anna!”. Journalists:”Anna, here!”.
And so Anna Dello Russo’s journey along fashion’s golden street goes on. Anna:”…Anything for fashion”.
Isn’t this manga cute? The first and last boards focus on Anna’s figure. As a fashion nerd, I have immediately recognized the outfits she was portrayed with. In the first board she is wearing a Prada ombre bustier dress, with Prada satin heels and statement jewellery.
The drawing is slightly different from the actual outfit – Anna’s hair is loose, she’s holding a Chanel quilted clutch and the shoes are not visible – but the rest directly portrays what she wore in 2007.
Anna’s portrait in the last board is stunning: it is so her and perfectly reproduces one of her most famous and quirky outfits. During the Milan Fashion Week in February 2009, she was spotted wearing a Dolce & Gabbana red dress, with big round shoulders and jewelled belt.
This is not a conventional dress, but she was so good in pulling it off. I love the gorgeous long leather gloves she picked as accessories, and I also like the Yves Saint Laurent yellow-soled patent ankle boots.
Before closing this post, I couldn’t help but posting this stunning image, shot during the Men’s Fashion Week in Milan. Anna is walking alone, wearing a Lanvin red one-shoulder dress, Christian Louboutin nude heels and a Bulgari Tubo Gas Snake watch. I like this pic so much because she’s portrayed in a private moment (she’s walking alone), but she radiates fashion and elegance even when she’s not surrounded by fans and colleagues.