Anna Dello Russo
Text Carlo Mazzoni
The rigour. They were my first few days of a job in publishing, on the second floor of an elegant building in Piazza Castello. I had neither a desk nor a chair. I was twenty-two years old and one of many interns. The walls along the corridor were lined with bookshelves. It was dusty – with the constant smell of photocopiers and warm printing ink in the air, rolls of acetate film, glossy page proofs – photos pinned up or lying jumbled up on benches. Anna dello Russo was the director of L’Uomo Vogue from 2000. “You’re precise, organized and devoted,” Franca Sozzani had told her when she offered her the post. From the dark, dusty editorial team corridor, I stopped to have a look at Anna’s office. Photos, notes or slips of paper were pinned to a noticeboard on the wall, arranged in a rigid pattern. Magazines were perfectly stacked to within a millimetre. In black and white, with a lot of light, it was a scientific laboratory of aesthetic chemistry, producing beauty for the world outside; and there in the heart, in the throbbing engine, an obsessive rigour reigned.
She used to wear black. Without a trace of make-up on her face. A photograph of her by Helmut Newton from 1996 captures her crossing the courtyard of the Palazzo di Brera. With a long coat that might be by Jil Sander, a cigarette in her mouth, refined bearing, and low-heeled men’s shoes. “The lack of professionalism makes me furious.” – Anna explained to me how it was necessary to study the men’s fashion shows in order to understand the women’s shows. Armani’s destructuring, the Japanese oversized garments, the Dutch avant-garde of ‘The Antwerp Six’, the Flemish rawness of Raf Simons. She told me how changes in fashion always occurred first in men’s fashion then in women’s: to breach the male imagination, which is more solid and dignified from tradition and virility, the crack has to be narrow and deep – and naturally it can then reach down to the foundations. It was January 2014, not long after the first men’s fashion show by Alessandro Michele: a shock consisting of ephemeral ‘70s shapes from this middle-class hipster who was to explode onto the scene a month later at Milano Donna, and would go on to take the lead in fashion for the last few seasons. Anna told me that my Lampoon project matched what had just happened at Gucci.
The irrepressible desire for the new. A year later, I remember Anna’s refusal when she left during a dinner at Lampoon – she told me that the people were too old, too boring. The sponsor had forced a list of their potential clients on me, people who clashed with the kind of attitude I was building for Lampoon – but I couldn’t put up a front: it was crystal clear to me that it was time to change. Immediately and fast. Newspapers are made up of pages to turn over. Lampoon was just over a year old – I opened the door and got rid of them all. That movement, that concept of the digital tribe that we had been the first to launch and that companies were starting to plan as a commercial strategy, that was what Lampoon had to cast off. Lampoon was and is rigour and the future – in the intellectual contrasts, the colours and the details.
Change – Anna taught me the concept. Fashion is the literature of the time that is passing, and that scientific laboratory of aesthetics has rules as rigid as those of chemistry.
(More on The Fashionable Lampoon Issue 12 – Dionysus)
Anna Dello Russo
Phaidon, p. 552, € 175
From The Fashionable Lampoon Issue 12 – Dionysus