“Fashion is a declaration of personal freedom.”  – Anna Dello Russo, journalist


During the master degree in fashion journalism, we watched Anna Dello Russo videos dozens of times. We examined her work, studied the method, listened to anecdotes. Then, I met her a few years later, it was my first Prada show and she was in total look.

So I said to myself: “How lucky are these guys in having the opportunity to learn directly from her what we have clumsily learned from magazines, interviews and the ineffable YOUTUBE?”. I‘m referring to the students from Istituto Marangoni – whose Anna is the new Brand Ambassador – who since last January have had the opportunity to attend a series of workshops held by our “fashion maniac” – as Helmut Newton defined her.

Anna Dello Russo – journalist, fashion consultant, creative director of Vogue Japan since 2006 – is a pop-icon with an impressive charisma.

Over the years we have been amazed, amused, made us think. She transgressed and invented. Because Anna is a soul sensitive to changes: she anticipates and conveys them. She has been doing it for thirty years, as she also tells in the book AdR Book: Beyond Fashion. Hers is an inheritance Anna does not want to get misplaced, in her own way, it’s her gift to the new generations with the hope – mine – that they will know how to treasure it.

We heard her on the phone a few weeks ago, after a meeting in Pitti Uomo, a phone call intense and lightening together…


Welcome Anna, it’s a big pleasure to have the possibility to speak with you! Let’s start immediately! You are the New Brand Ambassador at Istituto Marangoni. How was the collaboration with one of the most prestigious fashion universities born?

It was born a year ago, in 2018. It was a very important year because it represented the closure of a thirty-year cycle, thirty years of career in publishing. It is a year of “dismantling”, crowned by the release of the book AdR Book: Beyond Fashion in which I summarize my life. At the same time, I was working at an event in which I auctioned part of my clothes collection. All proceeds were earmarked in a Charity for students. I was, I repeat, in a phase that I call “dismantling” in favor of a process of sharing. At a certain point in my career, I started to think that my experience had to be made available to others, it was up to me. I felt the need to transmit it, as in an ideal hand-over. In a certain way, I was already doing it through the book and with the event and it was in that moment that I was contacted by my dear friend Fabio Novembre that showed me the Istituto Marangoni will interview me and to have me as a brand ambassador. I did not need to think much about it. I said to myself: “Do you know that maybe it’s the right time?”. After thirty years of journalistic work, consulting, creative director, it was the right time to pay back by transmitting the accumulated experience. It was, it is important that this knowledge of mine could be given back, that even my own fortune could be irradiated as a mirror to those that have always fascinated me: the new generations. Mine was an immediate, natural choice. In my life it has always been like this: I have never looked for a job or a collaboration, I have always come to look for it at the right time.

It was like magic, the right mode and the right time. So, when they asked me to be part of that project, I replied: “Yes, let’s do it!”


What does being the Institute Ambassador involve? 

It is proof of having done something well over time. It’s like the children’s look. I have always worn extravagant looks if the children look at you on the street and say “how nice!”, this means that you are doing well. Instead, if they look at you with frightened eyes, it means that it is time to change. What do I mean by this? I mean that for me being a point of reference for these guys represents a grow-up, a high score in the report card.

It means I am a good example and this is the most important thing for me.

I am not a teacher – even if, think of the cases of life, I graduated in literature and my destiny was perhaps just to end up among the school desks – but an example, at least I hope so. I would like my experience not to be lost in any way by turning it into tips, in a sort of training. This is something that I have always done with my assistants, I have always given importance to team training. So, you can imagine how happy I’m to address these attentions to classes of students, young people who look out on life like chicks.


Which message do you want to convey to the students and, more generally, to the new generations of professionals?  

The tenacity of believing in dreams. The formation of young creative minds is an act of great responsibility. They come from different cities and schools, they are of distant origins and cultures: all irremediably dragged by the passion for creativity. Boys and girls who come from China or the Philippines, countries that until very recently were difficult to reach. To think that they have the chance to graduate in this sector- also thanks to the advanced technology that has allowed the world to become in a certain sense smaller – is an important thing. Theirs is a hard path, without institutionalized references. If you wanted to be a lawyer, for example, you know the path you should follow to reach that goal, even if it is hard. In the case of creative crafts like ours, everything must be driven by intentions, there must be a strong will behind it. Vittorio Alfieri wrote “Volli, sempre volli, fortissimamente volli”. I believe that you must set fire to your dreams, believe in them intensely until the end because the path to reach the goal can be tortuous. Believe in your dreams and train your body because you need very wide shoulders to face difficulties. Never give up!


And what characteristics should these professionals have to be successful?

Developed, trained sensitivity and flexibility. I have always compared fashion to yoga, they are so similar. As yoga for me, fashion is also a metaphor of life.

In this sector the training constancy and the dedication to a passion allow you to build a strong personality that declines in flexibility. In an age of great change, modernity and new opportunities, we need a strong but also flexible body. We must know how to adapt to any kind of situation. It is no longer as in the past, today the required characteristics are different. Think, for example, of all the new jobs that are emerging, start-ups, all the young editors with fresh and innovative ideas. All these new business operators possess the kind of flexibility that allows them to test the infinite possibilities that today’s market offers. In short, we must build a solid backbone to our dreams, strengthen it to finally bend it.


Last month you ran a workshop with the students at the School in Milan, about #brandyourself. Tell us a little more about it. 

Besides being a brand ambassador, what I have proposed is to put into practice an experimental didactics. I promoted an alternative educational path through a workshop/playground that had the dynamism of those TV contests – X FACTOR, to be clear – but with a specific focus on fashion. It is an interactive workshop in which direct dialogue between myself and students is essential. All the students of the most advanced classes participate and this allows interesting transversality, an interdisciplinary and interesting dynamism. All these elements refer to the slogan #brandyourself. Today, communication is at the basis of our job. Therefore, my personal message to the students is to think that whatever dream you have, whatever you want to do in life you have to learn to communicate it by starting from yourself. This “contest” will develop in various stages, will touch various branches and will last the entire academic year. There will not be only me as the first time – which however saw the participation of Paolo Stella. Different professionals will join me gradually. In Milan, there were the designers Andrea IncontriMarco De Vincenzo and Giuliano Calza. Each time the jury will be enriched with new presences, insiders able to provide youngsters with the pulse of the current situation and the tools to deal with it. It is a direct way to have concrete contact with the fashion world: dynamic, fresh, interactive.


According to your vision, how will fashion evolve in the next few years?

I should be a witch. The one linked to technology is considered an epochal change. It’s a tsunami that has invested in fashion as it never happened before. It is creating new behavioral and consumption codes. Today for me it is unpredictable what the future of fashion will be because everything has to be rewritten. We are near a new era in which the rules will be written by the new generations, as at the beginning of a new millennium. The old bulwarks, the obsolete unshakable certainties are giving way to new fundamentals. But to say with certainty where we will come is impossible because nobody knows about it. These new generations are in an imaginary incubator and we watch them grow visibly in tandem with the changes that are imposing, I repeat, new behavioral and consumption processes.

The revolution of the web, first e-commerce, and Socials, can already help us to understand how this virtual world is becoming powerful performing a primary function in our lives up to join the reality (shops, to be clear). It is another world open in front of us. We do not know the new rules, they are writing them now, we do not know what will work. But we know that the old rules are now inadequate, we know what no longer works.