Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Interview with Anna Dello Russo

QVeST: anna, you are one of the most highly reputed stylists in the world as well as editor at large for voGue Japan. Why did you decide to start a web career as well?

anna deLLo rUSSo: i started my blog in march 2010. the reason was that i felt there was a revolution going on, the power of a new medium was arising. All the blogging icons such as scott, tommy ton and Garance, whom i happened to know over the years, created a new language, they opened a new space to think, write about and discuss fashion. because i love fashion it was the right time to jump in and join the community, to be in touch with the new generation and to share my passion with them.

How was it in the beginning?

well, it was not easy at all. i really had to force myself in the beginning, because it was hard to deal with a new medium, which was totally different from the world i came from. my knowledge was all about magazines and i had this typical edi- torial point of view – but the web with its very sudden, very spontaneous impact was a real challenge for me. At the same time i wanted to add my knowledge and establish a certain »luxury« state of mind. then i tried to mix together all these demands that i had – and so i found my way, and also had a lot of fun.

Talking of fun, many of your blogger colleagues admit that for them their blog is a tool to get real, that is paid, jobs as photographers, stylists, consultants, etc. Because you already had a career before, I guess you are one of the rare examples of those who use the blog more as a play- ground ...?

yes, that’s correct. for me it is not the way to earn a living, but a playground, as you said. fortunately, i have a fantastic job which is sometimes very hard, always being on duty. so the blog is my compensation, a tool to share my passion, to express my freedom, my personal point of view, which does not have to match the condé nast one. so i am free, having lots of fun without any rules or restrictions. that does not mean that i don’t take it seriously. let’s just say it is playing, but with the same serious approach that normally defines my profession as an editor.

did you ever face problems with your publishing company
because of your blog? no conflict of interests?

Absolutely not! thank God, Jonathan newhouse (chairman of condé nast) is one of the smartest and most generous people i’ve ever met. he loves my blog and gives me the freedom to cherish it. there cannot be any conflict because i still talk about fashion, i take the same professional approach, but i’m more passionate. Also my blog is part of the condé nast blog in Japan, which proves the compatibility of both careers.

But let’s face it, apart from passion and fun, a blog is always a stage for unrestrained self-marketing. Which means a perfect tool to raise your personal market value ...

of course you also start a blog to promote yourself, that’s what my followers expect from me and my colleagues. the commu- nity wants to know details about me and my craze for fashion. they want to see my outfits, to know where i got them from – so i have to feed them with images and comments. my task is to talk about my personal style, my personal shopping, my fashion philosophy in a smart, original way. that’s why i started this Adr thing, playing with my initials and by means of that not just creating a new, personal language but also establishing sort of a virtual brand. A brand which stands for fun and joy,
not for profit.

This adr thing led to the launch of your first perfume. Is that really not a profit thing?!

that was a real challenge, a sort of experiment. it has been proven that it is possible to build a brand without any money or a big campaign. it was a little bit like in that movie »the social network«, where this kid (mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook) invented something just because of a simple desire, a naive wish – and it became a huge thing. in a cool, smart, passionate way, not money-driven. i found the perfect partner for this perfume experiment in the online store yoox.com which sells the perfume right now. it’s not expensive though, because our aim is not to make big money, but to show that you can achieve anything if you really go for it. And that the internet offers us a lot of chances. new chances which you have to recog- nize.

The look of your blog is very joyful and loving, yet a little trashy with all the flower frames, the cartoons and tacky details.
Does that reflect the typical anna style?

i really love both: luxury and trash. i love cheap and chic, tackyandtrashy,coutureandhigh-endstuff.soihaveavery contradictory point of view, which for me is the true meaning of style. if you see my house for example, it’s completely baroque, really tacky and over the top. there is a lot of gold and things that spread an excessive appeal. i simply like this style, and even more i like the irony behind it. i never take things too seriously, there must always be a humorous back- ground. to be honest, things that are mainly chic are some- times really boring; so i prefer things and looks with a certain blemish, a touch of vulgarity, mess and trash to make fashion more fun. my point of view is a little provocative, but on the other hand it is free and independent. i like to play as much as i can with all aspects of my personality, mixing all kinds of styles, using all the possibilities that life offers me. And my blog reflects that. it’s like a kid’s approach: kids cannot really explain why they like something, they simply like it – basta! it’s a very authentic, honest feeling that comes from the heart. Also they do not think about or categorize what’s good or tasteful, they simply go for it.

One of your blog resolutions for 2011 is to expand the web sphere. Why do you think the web is so important,
especially in terms of fashion?

because it is the platform for communicating with the new generation in a straightforward and immediate way. not just in terms of fashion but generally. the problem with magazines is – apart from the fact that there are too many of them – that they do not get in touch with the young people, who long for a direct exchange. they have grown up with the internet and with social networking and if you want to stay in touch with them you have to chose other ways. Also, fashion has become too self-referential, a thing locked inside editorial cages. it was time for a break, for a liberation. with the blog i can feel the audience, i get instant feedback – that’s what i appreciate very much.

Do you think that fashion will move away from
the magazines and shift to the web totally?

no, the world offers space for both. but with the revolution the internet has caused, the print media, which includes us as edi- tors, will reset and have to work out new strategies to match the market situation. which also means cleaning up the mar- ket. it’s a fact that there are too many publications,
let’s just face it.

But the web is suffering from the same thing right now – too many web magazines, too many blogs ...

well, it’s the time for blogs right now. After 10 years of a subtle built-up, the scene is exploding. that’s what always happens. once a thing has become a success, everybody wants to be part of it. but i think that in a few years, many of them will be gone, both because of a natural shakeout and because some bloggers will have chosen other careers.

Coming back to the legendary anna style: you are not ashamed to wear helmets, water melon hats and outfits that are – with all due respect – a bit carnivalesque and completely over the top.
In your opinion, can a style ever be overdone

i am a true fashion maniac, i can tell you. i was born like that.
since i was a child i loved clothes and plundered the wardrobe of my mother. Also i styled my barbies to death – which was easy because they could not defend themselves (laughs). After i became a stylist and people got to know me, they – especial- ly the english ones – asked, »why are you so overdone?« i just answered, »why not?!«. why should you go out wearing boring outfits if clothes give you so many opportunities to express yourself? i come from the south of italy where every woman dresses up when she goes out. so it’s part of my culture, i have no problem being overdone. i don’t know any style limits or restrictions – i love the preparation, the idea of dressing up, the moment of choosing and composing my outfit – it is like a ritual, i simply enjoy it.

I read that you prefer full looks, which means you do not mix labels, but instead stick to one designer?

Absolutely, i like the looks from the catwalk, so i adopt them straight away. to me, they are already the peak of beauty, so i don’t have to do an extra job by mixing them with other pieces or with other labels. it’s just perfect the way it is.

How do you afford this craze?
I heard you buy nearly all the clothes yourself ..

well, you better not ask! i am a real big spender in terms of fashion, i always was. i don’t have kids, i don’t have a family, so all my money went and still goes to the designer’s shops. of course sometimes they lend me pieces, but most of the outfits i’ve worn belong to me. that’s why i had to rent
an extra apart- ment just for my clothes!

We hope that your dog Cucciolina still gets enough to eat, if you spend all your money on clothes?

(laughs) don’t worry, she is fine. And because she is small and therefore doesn’t need tons of food i should always be able to afford to feed her!


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