Style File: Tim Blanks Remembers Anna Piaggi

Style File
thumbnail Tim Blanks Remembers Anna Piaggi
Aug 7th 2012, 19:42

Once upon a time, I owned every issue of Vanity, the magazine Anna Piaggi (pictured) worked on in the 1980s. So by the time I started covering shows at the end of that decade, I was already well primed for the Piaggi experience. But nothing could prepare me for how gracious she was when I poked my intrusive microphone in her face, blagging a comment on whatever collection we’d just seen. Informed opinion, dry wit, and patience made Piaggi a Fashion File favorite. And an enduring fascination. Where—and how—did she live? Where did her clothes go at night? What did she eat? I imagined something like Isak Dinesen’s diet—only oysters and champagne. Then we found ourselves sitting together at one of Rifat Ozbek’s dinners at Le Langhe on Corso Como and a whole other Anna emerged. A hearty appetite, for one, which extended to everyone and everything everywhere. Like her friend Karl Lagerfeld, you were left wondering how she found the hours in a day to absorb so much.

Today, when I heard she’d died, I went poking through my stacks to find Vanity. No joy. Disappeared, like a gorgeous mirage. That is somehow appropriate, because what’s left is a memory so vivid I scarcely need the actual object. There’s never been another magazine like Vanity. It goes without saying there’ll never be another Piaggi. So maybe she took the books with her. She did have an arcane, slightly supernatural quality, like her soulmate Vern Lambert, the rumpled fashion alchemist with the extraordinary apprentice Piaggi at his side. “What I will miss above all things, which it will never be possible to capture again, is the way he made things magic,” she told the Independent on Lambert’s death in 1992. “Through his eyes and spirit he gave life to things.” Those words stand as her own elegy.

PLUS, click here to see’s tribute to Anna Piaggi in pictures

—Tim Blanks

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