This article was originally written on April 23, 2011, when Anna Dello Russo and Tommy Ton visited Toronto for Ton's photography exhibition as part of Contact at The Bay's The Room.
Anna Dello Russo defies the rules of fashion. Not only does she archive her most vivacious Givenchy dresses in a separate apartment, she'll wear them with oversized fruit hats, feathered blazers, and sparkly 6 inch shoes. She is 43 years old, gutsy, and above all, genuinely crazed about fashion.
When I found out I was interviewing Editor-at-Large of Japan Vogue Anna Dello Russo and fashion photographer Tommy Ton at The Bay, I couldn't believe that I would meet such influential figures in fashion. The context: ten fashion bloggers would arrive at The Room @ The Bay for an intimate Q&A with the artist and muse.
Upon further research, I started to think: what have I gotten myself into? Anna Dello Russo and I basically have nothing in common. She collects fashion. She dresses up in eccentric clothing at 10am in the morning, mixing Pucci, McQueen and Balmain with lux boas and golden accessories.
I remembered seeing her photoshoot in the November 2010 issue of W Magazine. You know, the one with Kim Kardashian nude on the cover. I thought it was vile, but isn't everything shot by Juergen Teller? Longtime fan Faye Alipour has been obsessed with her, admiring her attitude above all.
"I love that she's fun," Faye says. "Fashion tends to be inaccessible when you take into consideration the hard industry faces and celebrities typically in front row." Despite her Vogue lineage, "[Anna] actually has a palpable passion for the art of fashion".
When I finally got to The Bay and sat in on a private interview of Tommy and Anna, I realized this was going to be easy. As long as I made it back to work on time.
Anna was late, pushing me back by 25 minutes. She changed outfits and tweeted between interviews. Her most eccentric outfit, she says, is the masquerade ball mask photographed by Tommy Ton. She never shops online (Tommy does). Despite her thousands of pieces of clothing and jewelry and shoes, she still feels that there is something missing from her collection: everything from next season.
I met the other fashion bloggers for an intimate Q&A session with barely any time left on my lunch. I asked for a quick autograph of my October 2009 Vogue Nippon magazine, marking the only time I have been in a Japanese airport. "Ah, this is old!" she said when I passed it to her. She was very chatty, reminiscing about the dress and the cover photoshoot. She signed, "I will put again this dress. Love, Anna". When I arrived home at the end of the day, the signature had faded in my backpack.
Basically, I had one question to ask in my limited amount of time. Where would Tommy take Anna out in Toronto? Anna responded, "We have only been to The Bay!". Tommy replied tactfully, "[We'd go] to the specialty novelty toy store at Church and Queen".
When I asked her if she was going to buy anything from The Room, the designer-heavy third floor of The Bay, she stared at me wide-eyed, dumbfounded, and adorable.
"Buy?" she asked, confused about the meaning of the word.
"Will you purchase anything at The Bay?", I rephrased.
"Ah! No shopping!", she declared.
Anna and I had a few good laughs. I fell in love with her approachable personality more than anticipated. It turns out we did have some sort of chemistry; she lights up the room with her style, smile and thick Italian accent. Anna Dello Russo is always learning, curious, but knows what she wants.
"Sometimes I look like a Christmas tree...that is okay".