Guess whose birthday it is today fashion fans

Can you name this onesie-shunning baby who grew into one of the fashion world’s most influential figures?
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Anna Dello Russo at six months, as reproduced in our new book.
Anna Dello Russo at six months, as reproduced in our new book.

Break out your most flamboyant outfit. The Italian fashion editor, stylist, Phaidon author and social-media star Anna Dello Russo celebrates her 56th birthday today.

We may know her work from the pages of Vogue Italia, L’Uomo Vogue and Japanese Vogue, but those closer to Anna suspected from the very earliest days that fashion might be her calling.

Simone Marchetti, fashion editor at la Repubblica, describes how Anna showed a strong interest in clothes and accessories, while many of her contemporaries were barely walking.

 

A childhood picture of Anna Dello Russo, as reproduced in our new book
A childhood picture of Anna Dello Russo, as reproduced in our new book

“At only one-year-old, Anna looks at a laced shoe her mother left her to play with,” writes Marchetti in the diary section of our multi-book box set AdR Book: Beyond Fashion. “She is hypnotized by it, in a way those around her deem almost autistic. She obviously doesn’t care who is watching her – an attitude that will continue for the rest of her life. She is only interested in that object. The most beautiful object in the world."

“As a child, toys do not interest her,” Marchetti goes on. “Her toys are the clothes of grown-ups. She looks at them, she spies on them, she touches them, she craves them. She can’t live without them.”

 

A childhood picture of Anna Dello Russo, as reproduced in our new book
A childhood picture of Anna Dello Russo, as reproduced in our new book

This interest became more acute as Anna approached adulthood. For her thirteenth birthday, she persuaded her father, a prominent psychiatrist, to buy her a Fendi handbag, umbrella, tissue holder, wallet, and key chain. Of course, it rarely rains in Anna’s hometown of Bari in southern Italy, so some of her friends questioned the usefulness of that umbrella. They were missing the point, of course. It was the object that mattered to Anna, regardless of its utility or provenance.

“Since adolescence, while her friends are dreaming of ripped jeans and sneakers, she asks to have the Versace [clothing] in the cupboard of an acquaintance’s mother or the Alaïa in the wardrobe of a family friend,” Marchetti goes on. “Fashion becomes a magnet that it is useless to resist, a gravitational force that first attracts you and then makes you fly away at the speed of light.”

 

Anna Dello Russo as she is today. Image taken from our new book. Dress: Oscar de la Renta, Luggage: AdR + H&M, Photo: Tommy Ton
Anna Dello Russo as she is today. Image taken from our new book. Dress: Oscar de la Renta, Luggage: AdR + H&M, Photo: Tommy Ton

As her teenage years drew to a close, Anna moved from the south to Milan, Italy’s fashion capital, to study, and eventually find work at Conde Nast’s Italian offices.

She would no longer have to bother her friends' mothers for prêt-à-porter items; Anna would instead develop close contacts in the industry she admired so much, and soon become a crucial figure in fashion the world over, shaping the childhood dreams of many other young followers of fashion, across the globe. Happy birthday Anna!

 

AdR Book: Beyond Fashion

To learn more about Anna’s early years, as well as her later career, order a copy of AdR Book: Beyond Fashion here.


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Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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