is a moment, an expression. My philosophy of fashion is humour, jokes and
games. I make my own rules,” said one of the last grand doyennes of fashion,
Anna Piaggi in 1978 in an interview with WWD.  As Milan Fashion Week, drew to a close, you wondered where the humour,
jokes and games were.  Fashion here is a
serious business – big textiles mills, big companies, big advertisers.  All of that bigness doesn‚Äôt leave much room
for the sort of whimsicality and eccentricity that Piaggi demonstrated in her
life as a fashion editor, muse and extraordinary style icon.  One year after the passing of Piaggi, an
exhibition entitled Hat-ology, feting Piaggi’s love of hats, which was curated
by Stephen Jones, just opened last week at the Palazzo Morando Costume Moda
Immagine.  We see a recreation of her office in Milan, where she created and
edited more than twenty years worth of Doppie Pagine double page spreads for
Vogue Italia, typed up on a red Olivetti Valentine typewriter.  Hats from all origins – Phillip Treacy,
tourist caps, Chanel, Prada, vintage Schiaparelli and Jones himself are dotted
around the space – a seemingly eclectic and crazed jumble that actually speaks
of consummate fashion curation and knowledge. 
Of her hats, Piaggi said in 2011, ‚ÄúMy hat is personal.  It is what contains the soul, the feeling,
the sensation that moves this little world around.”

Piaggi’s hats on display in the midst of a slew of Milanese shows that were
precisely the opposite of anything crazed or eclectic was bittersweet.  Piaggi danced to the beat of her own drum in
Milan with her blue hair, penchant for Comme mixed with vintage Poiret, and she
stood quite alone.  What she represented
and believed in wasn’t necessarily being reflected in Italian fashion, with a
few notable exceptions (thank you Miuccia Prada).  The weird and wonderful is not the done thing
in Milan.  We‚Äôre here to see perfectly
well-made clothes, expressing conventional notions of glamour, sexiness and
femininity in big razz-ma-tazz venues.         

cracks are starting to appear though. 
Piaggi’s peers in fashion have begun to recognise the failings and weaknesses
of Milan Fashion Week and with grumblings about its lagging state behind the commercial
hub hub of New York, the grassroots creativity of London and the queen bee
status of Paris, changes are supposedly a-coming.  Board members of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana such as Patrizio Bertelli of Prada
Group and Diego della Valle of Tod’s Group are eager to usher in change and so
we’ve had a week where young designers have been given a bigger spotlight in
amongst the power brands.  Marco de
Vincenzo, Stella Jean and Fausto Puglisi have been touted as a “new wave” of
young Italian designers.  It‚Äôs hardly a
wave but it‚Äôs a start.  Freedom of
expression on the level of Piaggi though is still sorely lacking.  Some might say Piaggi was a persona rooted to
a particular time in fashion, when flamboyance and whimsicality, were de rigueur.   That‚Äôs the conundrum of fashion at present –
what exactly is left if our time in fashion
is defined by profit margins, marketability and pure product? 

Originally written for Dazed DIgital



















Comments (17)

  1. WOWS says:

    Really coool designs!
    Kisses from
    Don’t miss you my Isabel Marant inspired outfit…at an afordable price!!.
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  2. Elisa says:

    RIP Anna Piaggi!
    She was an amazing woman, with stunning hats!!!
    With love,
    My Fantabulous World

  3. Joana says:

    What an amazing woman.
    Love, When You Dream Big x

  4. Ana says:

    Is it just me or does anyone else have a problem with the Dr Martens ad not going away?
    It’s right in the middle of my screen, obscuring the text *and the comment section), and there is no X/’close’ button 😐 .

  5. She was such an incredible woman famous for owning close to 3,000 dresses! I’m glad she is still remembered on your blog

  6. Yes, it’s a shame we don’t seem to have as many individual/eccentric figures in fashion any more.

  7. It was ok on my computer. If it’s a problem with other websites too, you may want to look in your settings. x

  8. Kirbybee says:

    Sometime I wish I was born a generation ago, just to really see people like Anna Piaggi in full flight. Profit margins and marketability may have a place in a modern fashion landscape, but I can’t wear either. Here’s to people like Anna and Miuccia and fashion weeks like London, where hopefully eccentricity will always have a home.

  9. Chloe says:

    Piaggi has always been an inspiration to me. It is so sad how bland some collections have been. I was appalled by the Chanel fall/winter 2013 couture collection. How many black coats was Lagerfeld going to put down that runway? Even the setting they had the show in looked like some worn down warehouse. The spring/summer collection was much better though!

  10. Jess says:


  11. bayu Radith says:

    AMAZING design and wonderful taste…

  12. FashionSnag says:

    Great post! I learned a lot.

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