Anna Piaggi was not only the most stylish 81-year-old to roam this planet, she was a complete species of her own. She was a creature in perpetual transformation, reconfiguring her million-and-one masks and costumes with a refreshing combination of art, architecture and in many cases, slap-stick humor. Her dazzling daily mutations would bring forth original looks that would shock the retina and tickle the mind.
Piaggi’s theatrical shtick would often include vintage canes, binoculars, and physics-defying hats. Ski poles featured as walking sticks. On one occasion, she reinvented the hat, balancing a wicker basket on her head filled with seaweed and crabs. One of Piaggi’s more interesting experiments involved hanging two pigeons she’d handpicked from the butcher around her neck, which went relatively smoothly until, around midnight, they started to bleed. Piaggi’s nonchalant response was to, “leave like Cinderella.”
Then there is the story of Piaggi at Paloma Picasso’s wedding, when her feathered hat burst into flames as she passed a lit chandelier. Onlookers no doubt took this as an unfortunate accident, but we tend to think this was another dimension of Piaggi’s choreographed theatrical genius.
Even at 81, Anna Piaggi’s entrance would steal the show. Her true style was in her ability to transcend the stone-faced chic of fashion. Piaggi believed in fun, frivolity, and the fanciful. However, her philosophy of fashion as “humor, jokes, and games” was taken most seriously by the art world, where in 2006 her vast wardrobe filled the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in an exhibition titled: “Anna Piaggi: Fashion-ology”.
For Piaggi, there were no walls between art and life and fashion; she fused all her passions into a single act of sartorial dissent. No doubt, she will be one of the most colorful angels floating above us in the fleeting fashion clouds, occasionally shooting arrows of inspiration into lingering Homo Fashionistas.