In the land of fashion she is the indisputable Queen of Streets Style, who can sport a revealing Anthony Vaccarello dress one day, and bird of paradise-like furry outerwear the next. The day in which the Vogue Japan creative consultant and I meet up for a chat at a Milanese eatery near Parco Sempione, her off-camera style is just as charged as it is on-camera. Dello Russo comes in walking wearing a colorful coat, with ultra heavy padding (think Michelin puppet kind of ultra heavy), accompanied by her partner in crime – a tiny Pinscher named Cucciola.
“I love the energy of colors, and I always rely on colors in photo shoots, to achieve the type of maximalistic styling that I’m known for. Apart from the black-and-white shoots I’ve done with Helmut Newton years ago, my styling has always been colorful and heavy on accessories,” the Italian fashion celebrity tells me, who’s widely considered one of fashion’s most renowned stylists.
Those “years ago” she is referring to, started back in 1989, after the Bari-native had earned a degree in Art History, and subsequently finished her studies at Milan its Domus Academy. “After Domus, I immediately became fashion editor at Vogue Italia. I had the luck of having a job interview with Franca Sozzani – who had just taken the position of editor-in-chief – and she gave me the job a day after the interview. She (Franca) has taught me everything I know, especially to not be fearful of anything and just jump.”
Her twelve-year career as a fashion editor of Italian Vogue, was followed by six years as the editor-in-chief of L’Uomo Vogue. But it turned out, office life just didn’t feel right to the woman who describes her early days as a fashion editor, similar to the life of a soldier. “After six years I decided I wanted to go back to doing photo shoots. I’ve always loved menswear, and I still do, but I didn’t enjoy being stuck in an office and missed the traveling. I remembered feeling like a soldier as a fashion editor, when I would travel from one country to the next, as if I didn’t live in Italy any more.”
As a result of her desire to get back into styling, Condé Nast offered her two jobs: one at Vogue China, the other one at Vogue Japan. “Even though I knew the Chinese market was going to be the future, I still went for Japan. I love Japan, because the Japanese are crazy like me when it comes to fashion. I decided to follow my heart.” As of 2007, Dello Russo has worked as the creative consultant of the Japanese title, bringing an international flavour to its pages in terms of photographers and overall DNA.
It is the digital world however, as oppose to that of print, where Anna Dello Russo is omnipresent, ever since starting her blog AnnaDelloRusso.com in 2010. “When the digital revolution started happening, I wanted to be part of that world as well, since the internet is such a powerful tool. Two of my friends (art directors Marco Braga and Giuliano Federico) insisted I should start my blog, as they believed it had the potential to become something big. They’re quite nerdy, so I believed them.”
What started out as a small online personal diary five years ago, today boasts a team of five people, and has lead to lucrative endorsement deals with major companies including H&M. “Outside of my work for Vogue, I work on the website at least two hours a day. Then there is a small team behind it which contributes content that can range from cinema to music. The internet has become a proper addiction to me. I don’t think I’m exposed to anything other than magazines and internet. I don’t even watch TV anymore. I mean, when I turn on the TV I think to myself: ‘Why is this screen so big?”’
One of the Italian creative’s most memorable online appearances – if not the most memorable – was in the 2012 “Fashion Shower” promotional video, part of her accessories collection in collaboration with H&M. In the video Dello Russo- who was 50 at the time – is seen wearing thigh-high leather boots and a latex mini dress, whilst flexing some yoga poses and strutting around performing her Fashion Shower song, which would soon be available on iTunes. The video was received with both praise, as well as criticism. But those who weren’t so supportive of the video, clearly didn’t get the message Dello Russo says.
“After I left Condé Nast Italy to work for Vogue Japan, H&M asked me to do something together. Now that I was more free to do collaborations, I wanted to do it. When you’re attached to a magazine it is difficult to do this type of collaboration, but working for Vogue Japan as a creative consultant also allows me to take on other projects. I targeted a younger audience with the video, and I think it was quite obvious that the whole thing was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. The entire collection sold out, and the younger generation loved it. I think that in fashion, if you don’t approach things with humor, it becomes impossible to survive.” She further comments on her H&M move that went viral: “I took a risk with that video, but it was a risk worth taking. It was a moment in which things were changing, and I wanted to be part of this new world. I didn’t want to exclude myself from the digital space.”
Flash forward to 2015, topping her wish list of collaborations, is doing the styling of a musician. “In the past I’ve styled fashion shows, but I prefer to sit in the audience and watch them instead. Right now I consider to be my editorial days and I focus on the world of magazines. I’d like to start working with pop stars in the near future however. The beautiful thing about the industry today, is that everything is possible.”
With Milan fashion week around the corner, the Vogue veteran promises to be the usual treat to street style photographers, while dressing up in the designs of her hometown’s most celebrated designers. When her rise on the internet will peak however, she is unable to predict. “I think that in the year 2020, we will understand if the whole internet revolution and the world of street style is here to stay, or if it’s just a thing that is currently trending. But in my entire life I have never seen a medium as powerful as the internet.”