While the fashion world is currently buzzing with terminologies like ‘quiet luxury’ and ‘stealth wealth’, Anna Dello Russo continues to be the perfect advocate for extravagance.
The 60-years-old Italian fashion journalist is known for keeping ‘fun’ in focus while experimenting with fashion. The infamous Carrie Bradshaw may have put on a bird feather on her head to make a case for maximalism, but she’s got nothing on this former editor who has accessorized with a whole hat made out of fiberglass fruit in the past.
With a background in italian literature and art history, Anna has been a prominent part of multiple publications all through her formidable years. Currently, she creatively consults with iconic fashion houses and lends her sartorial expertise. In her latest venture, Anna has designed the Valentino store window at the Dubai Mall — for this iconic collaboration, Anna has infused the colour block technique with the Valentino accessories to create a vivid fantasy for the passers-by.
In an exclusive chat with EW, Anna talks about thinking global but acting local, how practicality and grandiosity aren’t mutually exclusive and what went into bringing the cultural grandeur of Dubai into this project.
Valentino store at the Dubai Mall
Your collaboration with Valentino for this project appears as the perfect unison of two opulent aesthetics – where did this idea stem out of and how did it materialize?
My idea was to create a fashion presentation that would be a perfect fit for Dubai, a city that embraces bold, bright colours and sparkly accessories. To achieve this, we decided to explore the excessive maximalist aesthetic, which we felt would resonate well with the city’s love for opulence. To make a memorable impact, we decided to incorporate unexpected elements such as hats and gloves from the (Valentino des Ateliers FW 2021/22, ed.) HC collections and moved away from the more minimal aesthetic of the Unboxing Valentino Spring/Summer 2023 collection. The addition of these accessories helped to create a sense of drama and excitement in the presentation, making it a truly unforgettable experience.
Your fashion journey began from Italy and has expanded across the world from Japan to Paris, how was the experience of designing the Valentino store window in Dubai?
The language of fashion is a universal dialogue that transcends geographical boundaries and cultural borders. Having had the privilege of working in diverse regions, from my roots in Italy to Japan, I have developed a deep appreciation for fashion’s ability to unite the world. This is why the invitation to collaborate on a project in Dubai was a compelling proposition for me, as it presented an opportunity to explore new horizons and push the boundaries of creativity.
I am constantly inspired by the diversity and challenges of working with different countries. Every new location offers a wealth of cultural richness and unique perspectives that allow me to broaden my vision and explore new creative possibilities. Through this approach, I believe that fashion is not just about looking to the past or present, but about anticipating and shaping the future of design. It is my mission to continue pushing the limits of the industry, drawing on the rich tapestry of cultures and experiences that the world has to offer.
Valentino store at the Dubai Mall
Much like your personal style, Dubai is all about uber luxury, what’s your take on the style of the city and its position in the world of fashion?
As a creative consultant and Italian fashion journalist, I firmly believe in the mantra of “thinking globally, acting locally”. The fashion industry is a paradox, and it is our duty to position it in a way that reflects the diversity of cultures around the world. Dubai presents an exciting opportunity to explore and showcase the intersection of various cultural influences in fashion.
What I find particularly compelling about working in Dubai is the open-mindedness of the people and their willingness to embrace new ideas. With its rich cultural heritage and unique perspective, the region offers endless inspiration that I can draw upon to develop my own creative vision. At the same time, my work in Dubai also allows me to contribute my own unique perspective to the region’s thriving fashion scene, adding to its richness and diversity.
While designing the store front, what were the pivotal key elements that were essential to bring your vision to life?
When designing the store front, I focused on creating a maximalist and over-the-top presentation that would capture the luxury and extravagance of Dubai’s fashion scene. I incorporated larger mannequins and accessories, all in a bold and sparkling display reminiscent of the 80s. The result was a grand and unforgettable showcase of Dubai’s fashion scene, harmonized with the essence of the Unboxing Valentino collection.
Valentino store at the Dubai Mall
Maximalism has been your fashion mantra, how do you manage to accentuate your looks with grandiose while still retaining a hint of practicality in it?
As someone who adheres to maximalism in fashion, I believe that practicality and grandiosity aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s about finding the right balance and creating a look that is bold and imaginative, yet still functional and wearable. My approach involves dreaming big without limits, experimenting with different textures and fabrics, and paying close attention to every detail. While I can’t reveal all my secrets, I can say that hard work and dedication are key factors in achieving a successful, practical yet grandiose look.
Having seen fashion evolve across decades and evolving with it, how would you describe your personal style and the influence it holds on pop culture?
I prefer to communicate through images rather than words. It’s a constantly evolving process that goes beyond my original thoughts and ideas. It’s not about having a specific style but more about being inspired by what I see and hear. To truly understand fashion, you have to immerse yourself in it and let it take you on a journey. I’ve always been drawn to pop culture, irony, and a sense of humor in fashion, and I believe that a light-hearted message can resonate with a wide audience. My personal style is an evolution of pop culture.
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As a wearer of many hats, you’ve been a part of the industry in varying capacities – what keeps you going and what can be expected from your journey next?
What’s next, it’s always a mystery. The unknown is what excites me and keeps me going. I’m always open to new opportunities and challenges, and I’m excited to see where my journey will take me next.
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Image: Supplied by Valentino