#AdRInterview by Luke Leitch @Vogue.com
Why Anna Dello Russo Is Selling
Off One of Modern Fashion’s
Greatest Archives, for Peanuts
Text by Luke Leitch
“Clothes are made to talk. My archive is my fashion alphabet. And now I want to pass
that onto a new generation.” Anna Dello Russo is discussing a plan which, the first time
you hear it, seems incredible. She is selling off almost everything in the famous
personal fashion archive she has acquired over the last 30 years—and she’s doing it for peanuts.
Really? One of fashion’s greatest contemporary obsessives is clearing out the wardrobes,
plus the clothes-packed second apartment next to the one she lives in, plus the
remote subterranean archive—all of which have for years housed her ever-expanding,
compulsively compiled collection? The creator of “Fashion Shower” nods with utter
certainty: “Si!” But I still don’t quite believe her. At a show (of course) Dello Russo once
described fashion to me as the wind by which she sails through life. So, has she run
aground? Maybe some huge tax bill to pay? Gambling debts? “No! This is not for
profit! There is no nothing. I don’t want money from this—it is about passing on my heritage.”
And so it is.
Next month the original, Scott Schuman- and Tommy Ton-minted star of street
style will sell 30 of her most precious archival looks. These ensembles—“the whole
look! All the shoes and accessories too. Top-to-toe,” just as she first wore them—
will be offered at a special Christie’s auction to be held on the opening night of Milan
fashion week. The starting price for each piece, Dello Russo says, will be 50 euros.
Immediately after, another tranche of top-level AdR-acquired pieces—when we meet
the plan is for 150 of them—will go on sale via Net-A-Porter. These public disposals
of key pieces follow a series of private sales—for friends and people whose style
and attitude Dello Russo admires—that have taken place over the last few months.
Hundreds of handbags, shoes, and ready-to-wear originals (all worn either never
or once) were disinterred from Dello Russo’s storage
facilities and either sold off cheap or given away.
These for-friends sales, she says, did not contain the best-of-the-best in Dello Russo’s
collection. They were the iceberg, rather than its tip. Dello Russo explains: “Not
so many pieces are really important to pass on. I spent six months editing out the
very best of it for the Christie’s auction and Net-A-Porter. The rest—well it was like
a sale at Bergdorfs! I put every label in its own corner— Gigli, Lang, Alaia, everything,
and not one piece without a label. And then we let it go. My assistants were crying!”
The looks and pieces on sale next month will, as Dello Russo describes them: “be
the best of them all. The important pieces. Clothes are only very important
when they talk about modernity in a new way, as pieces of art and design.”
The sale, she says, “will be like a wall of fashion. I want to involve young people…
To show them ‘this was Nicolas Ghesquière for Balenciaga and it was everything.’
Or the heart piece from the last Hedi Slimane show at Saint Laurent. Or Yohji. And
there are many others from Italy, of course. A complete look from Giorgio Armani in
1988 that I wore to my sister’s wedding: shoes, dress, shirt, underwear, everything.
I think my Dolce & Gabbana archive is bigger than Domenico and Stefano’s own archive.
A lot of that I can’t give away—I am keeping for myself—but a few of them, some of the most
beautiful, I have put in the Christie’s auction. And there’s an amazing look by Gianni
Versace too. I have always been obsessed with collecting Miuccia Prada. There are two
Prada looks including the chandelier dress—that’s very important—and one
from Miu Miu. These are the iconic pieces. And I want to pass them on.”
Other full looks include outfits by Raf Simons for Jil Sander, Burberry, Jean Paul
Gaultier, Balmain, Margiela, Roberto Cavalli, Lanvin, Roksanda
Ilincic, McQueen, Tom Ford for Gucci, and Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy.
The auction, whose profits will be donated to a Swarovski fund benefiting fashion
students at Central Saint Martins, will augur the publication in April by Phaidon
of AdR Book: Beyond Fashion. “This book is like my karma,” she says. “My
mentor was Franca Sozzani, I owe everything to her. After she died I worked with
Luca Stoppini to make this book, to close the circle. We both worked very closely
with Franca together and so for me this book was a way of putting a chapter,
a big and extremely important chapter, of life into one place.”
The book charts the span of Dello Russo’s career so far and tracks her encounters
with the friends who helped her build it. “There is all my press, and lots of shoots.
I explain how I [got my] start, and 20 years of style. There’s Vogue Uomo and Vogue
Japan and then we jump to street style, where I was really able to have my voice
and declare my point of view.” The package includes excerpts from Dello Russo’s
assiduously kept personal diaries and pages from the compulsively organized pink
notebooks in which she charted every show she ever went to. There are even examples
of her very first fashion obsession, a childhood collection of clothes labels.
The book looks great. The sale, though, remains perplexing. Yes, Dello Russo is one
of the most naturally warm and generous souls in fashion, so her philanthropic urges
should perhaps come as no surprise. And yet, she loves clothes so very much. She
has invested so much energy in acquiring these pieces, over such
a long period of time. Why, really, is she divesting herself of them?
“I hate nostalgia in fashion,” she answers. “And I want to be part of the new.
Now everything is changing in fashion, and also I have changed too. Although I’ve
kept a lot of great pieces to wear—of course I have! and most of my Dolce & Gabbana
for sure—I no longer feel addicted like I did to always wearing big, important labels.
And only ever wearing something once. You know at the last fashion week in September
I wore the same thing three times! And another reason is that I want these pieces to
go where they will be cherished. I had begun to feel heavy, just a little heavy, having
all of it. And I feel when you get older you change back into being a teenager—no more
makeup, no more fur, just something lighter.” Another factor, she acknowledges, is
finding love with boyfriend Angelo Gioa: “All those clothes take up a lot
of room in your life! Now I want to free that space for him!”
Looking forward, Dello Russo says she is excited about a series of new editorial
projects, although she adds it is too early to discuss them in detail. Fashion r
emains the wind that propels her. She’s just set on a fresh direction.