News & Runway

Anna Piaggi: A Style Icon to Generations Remembered

Anna Piaggi was as relevant at 81, when she passed away Tuesday, as she was in the 1970s when she served as muse to designers like Karl Lagerfeld

Anna Piaggi attends the Missoni Milan Fashion Week Womenswear S/S 2011 show on September 26, 2010 in Milan, ItalyJohn Galliano and Anna Piaggi attends the John Galliano Ready to Wear show during Paris Womenswear Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2011

Missoni Milan Fashion Week S/S 2011; John Galliano RTW show Fall/Winter 2011

Fashion is not kind to the aging, but where many older erstwhile fashion icons are trotted out for an appearance or two every few years, Piaggi remained a staple of the international fashion weeks. Her unique style flew in the face of trend-driven youth culture and exemplified how a signature style can remain creative and dynamic for decades.

Typified by blue hair (not "old lady" blue hair, but a rather punk rock blue streak), bold makeup, a penchant for millinery, fur, vintage opera costumes from La Scala, and an international flair, no one missed Anna Piaggi in the front row, and no one wanted to. A predecessor of such chic eccentrics as Anna Dello Russo, Daphne Guinness, and Lady Gaga, she was a street style photographer's dream. If and when their dreams were populated by anyone more curvy than sinewy and more enfant terrible than enfant.

Piaggi served as fashion director of the Italian magazine Arianna in the 60s and it was there that she discovered the brand Missoni. It was in the 70s that she made her mark on Italian Vogue and sured up her status as an international tastemaker. She contributed to such publications as Vanity, Panorama, and L’Espresso and saw both a Karl Lagerfeld-penned book of sketches and a Victoria and Albert Museum exhibit devoted to her style.

Anna Piaggi during Paris Fashion Week - Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2005 - Valentino - Front Row in Paris, FranceAnna Piaggi attends the Versace fashion show on June 20, 2011 in Milan, Italy.

Front row at Valentino Haute Couture Spring 2005; Front row at Versace Spring 2012

“The world of fashion has lost one of its most original and subtly critical figures,” Giorgio Armani told WWD. “Anna Piaggi knew how to take a very Italian way of living and thinking fashion and make it international, turning it into the highest expression of art and culture. I will miss her unmistakable presence, free of all conventions, in the front row, and her way of seeing things, which was always passionate and able to catch the spirit of the times.”

Piaggi once said, “If I could be something else, I would like to be a new type of queen. It’s the theory of queenship that I dream of. I love the atmosphere, the clothes…I never think of money, just style and power.”

Let her passing be her coronation, she has long been fashion royalty.

[Source: WWD; Images: Getty]