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The Conversation: Italian 'fashion maniac' Anna Dello Russo on watermelon hats and clothes as therapy


How do you decide what to wear in the morning?

I want to express something through clothes. I want to give my editorial point of view, on myself. The best outfit of the season, the best designer of the season. I plan everything. It's not easy. Before, I used to do it on models for editorial. Now, it's about doing it on me. Like I am a magazine. I try to explain the best of the season, the labels that I believe in. It's my way to think about fashion. For me, it's my alphabet. I try to speak through clothes, to make sense. In a magazine, you have a point of view; this is my point of view, on myself. The other thing that's very important is the weather! You have to be believable, you have to match the context.

What's your point of view now?

Now I'm in a mood of American actors. Did you see this movie with Amy Adams?

American Hustle?

Yes. Allora. Now I like this mood, very late-Seventies. This is going to influence myself. So I play with this one.

When did your love of fashion begin?

I was obsessed by fashion since I was a kid. I was always looking in the bag, look at the jewellery. Mamma would say, 'Please don't do that, it's not polite', but I would say 'Mamma, I love the bag!'. When you see my picture when I was teenage, I was completely in Versace, head-to-toe. I was crazy for Mugler. Forever. During the Nineties, I really lost this eccentricity. Because I was not allowed to. It wasn't fashionable. Plus, I was really fashion victim – I still am really fashion victim. I was following a different type of fashion. Maybe I will get a minimalism moment again, too. I am completely schizophrenic about fashion. I can follow everything.

You designed an accessories range with H&M in 2012; would you ever do that again?

No. This was fun, a great idea, because it was one-shot. It was at the right moment. Now it's already over. It was about the evolution of street style, of blogs, blah blah blah. It was a fun collaboration. Maybe I would like to do something else...

What do you feel is the trademark of Italian fashion?

For me, what is good about Italian fashion is the joy of it. Italian fashion is always like the weather in Italy – very sunny, very fun, very colourful. And second, fashion in Italy is always well done. Quality is important, as well as the lightness, the joyfulness, and the optimism.

Is that what your style is about? Optimism?

It's a kind of protection. It's a kind of therapeutic approach to fashion, for me. My personality is a little bit hidden. The more I get depressed, the more I get the look. It's like having another person next to me take away the negativity. Then it's OK – that's wonderful! Everything go away. Also, it's a way to play with yourself. If you always want to be the same, this is boring. You're stuck in your gloom, your mentality problem. If you play around, play with your different personality, different look, you can be more flexible, more open to other people. It's a kind of therapeutic approach.

Do you ever wonder if what you're wearing is a little bit too much?

Sometimes I feel ridiculous, but it's in a good way. Like the cherry or the watermelon [both fruits Dello Russo has worn as hats], I love that. It's such an Italian touch of humour.


Anna Dello Russo is the editor-at-large and creative consultant for ‘Vogue’ Japan. Once described by Helmut Newton as a “fashion maniac”, her personal style has catapulted her to the status of street-style icon. She lives in Milan with her dog, Cucciolina, and has a second apartment for her extensive wardrobe