It was sad to learn this week of the death of Anna Piaggi, legendary fashion journalist and editor, as famous for her glamorous and extremely experimental dress-sense, as her fashion reportage. Editor of the now-legendary, short-lived illustration-led Vanity during the 1980s, to many of us she was perhaps most famous for her celebrated DP's (Doppie Pagine/Double Pages) that appeared in Vogue Italia, some of which were complied in a book by Thames & Hudson called Anna Piaggi's Fashion Algebra (which I luckily have a copy of still, but I know is now sadly out-of-print, so maybe track one down in your library, or pick up a perhaps now extortinately priced one on E-bay or Amazon!).
I remember vaguely as a fashion undergraduate at London College of Fashion, long back in the mists of time, being in a class where we were watching a documentary, the title of which I have long forgotten, but in which Anna Piaggi appeared, in all her glorious finery. A hysterical laugh went up from my fellow students, which at the time, and still today, I didn't quite understand. While Piaggi may have appeared a ''figure of fun'' to my peers at the time, I found their response rather peculiar, after all fashion is meant to be fun. And wasn't this also the reason we as students of fashion had signed up to such a course, because this was an industry we perceived as fun and glamorous? Besides, if it wasn't for people such as Piaggi who are prepared to stand up and promote the talents of fashion designers, handbag makers, or milliners, how else is their work to be promoted? In many respects Piaggi has played an important role in both Italian and international fashion circles, using her position as an editor/journalist, and as a true patron, to promote this aspect of fashion culture to its fullest extent. While we are all familiar with the role of the ''best dressed'' as promoted in many magazines, Piaggi took this a stage further, becoming a legendary figure on the front row of fashion shows, a joyful spectacle to keep an eye on, amongst the dreary sea of fashion mavens and PRs in their regulatory black and dark sunglasses. Certainly, the fashion weeks will be a much duller place without Piaggi, and she will be sorely missed, since, despite what my peers thought, every class needs its ''clown'' - after all, it's part of what makes life (and fashion!) worth living.
Welcome to Frivolene! This is the blog of Nathaniel Dafydd Beard, writer, curator and fashion conceptualist. Currently I am also a fashion researcher on the PhD programme in the Department of Fashion and Textiles, School of Material at the Royal College of Art, London. This blog is both a record and an archive of my own personal journey through the labyrinth of fashion research culture