Picture the scene. Legendary fashion editor, stalwart of Vogue Italia and internationally recognisable icon Anna Piaggi brushes her blue fringe out of her eyes, and squeezes out from between a head-high stack of hat boxes and a rail of neon chinchilla coats at her home in New York. 'Get me the number for Christies!' she declares, decisively, 'I’m going to have a clear-out.'
Whereas you or I might make one pile for eBay and two for the Oxfam shop, Signora Piaggi put up 321 lots for auction at the celebrated London auctioneers, including a certain cone-breasted black velvet evening gown by Jean Paul Gaultier, which fetched £13,750, and the top lot, a rare 18th century blue damask court gown, which exceeded its estimate, fetching £42,050 (!) although this will be delivered to an unnamed ‘institution’ rather than an individual.
It’s well known that Anna Piaggi’s archive of pieces is no ordinary collection, especially since 2006, when it was featured in a stand-alone exhibition at the V&A, entitled Fashion-ology, which displayed her personal clothing collection and her work from Vogue (she is thought to have produced over 7,000 fashion pages in her time).
Two of her close friends, London milliner Steven Jones who described the editor as ‘a walking library of fashion’ and shoe designer Manolo Blahnik helped to promote the sale, which raised over £59,055 due to furious bidding from designers, private collectors and museums like the V&A. It’s quite touching to think of these historic pieces receiving a new lease of life with their new owners, although Anna commented, 'What I will find to wear now?'
- Naomi Attwood