Grazia (UK) - - Fashion Interview -

se­ri­ous about styling. Her first break was work­ing for the now-leg­endary Anna Dello Russo who was the fash­ion edi­tor of L’uomo Vogue at the time. When she asked Gio­vanna how she felt about styling menswear, she replied: ‘“Anna, I would do dogswear, any­thing”, be­cause, you know, she was this ma­jor fash­ion guru in Mi­lan.’ Work­ing with ADR was the dream that prompted many a Devil-wears- Prada mo­ment, such as pre­vent­ing 40 mod­els, togged out in heavy win­ter clothes, from faint­ing in the scorch­ing heat in south­ern Italy, or from freez­ing to death in biki­nis on a glacier. ‘I was al­ways on lo­ca­tion, al­ways at war with the weather be­cause, of course, you shoot the sea­sons back to front. What you have to un­der­stand is that with Anna and Franca (Soz­zani, the late edi­tor of Ital­ian Vogue), they al­ways wanted to bring a shock to the shoot. So, I soon learned that there is no prob­lem, only a so­lu­tion. And the word “im­pos­si­ble” does not ex­ist. It was like a con­stant fash­ion emer­gency!’

In 2011, she moved to New York. ‘It was a huge deal for me leav­ing my home city and my fam­ily, I’m an Ital­ian girl and fam­ily is ev­ery­thing, but I wanted to have more in­de­pen­dence, a big­ger play­ground’. Her ca­reer took off. It wasn’t just the job she landed at W, , it was her ex­traor­di­nar­ily joy­ous per­sonal style cap­tured by the pi­o­neer­ing street-style lens­man Scott Schu­man on his then startup blog, The Sar­to­ri­al­ist. That, and the con­flu­ence of the so­cial me­dia up­ris­ing, meant that it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore Gio­vanna be­came Bat Gio Global Street Style Su­per­star. ‘And then it kind of grew ex­po­nen­tially and sort of mirac­u­lously, I was be­com­ing big­ger be­cause of this on­line thing. It was flat­ter­ing and fun, but also a bit of a shock that all any­body wanted to know about was what I was wear­ing!’

Then came Pea­cock­gate – when the fash­ion jour­nal­ist Suzy Menkes penned a seminal piece in 2013 for T, the New York Times’ style mag­a­zine, com­plain­ing that the in­ter­na­tional cat­walk shows had turned ‘into a zoo: the cat­tle mar­ket of show- off peo­ple wait­ing to be cho­sen or re­jected by the pho­tog­ra­phers’. The fash­ion doyenne never sin­gled out Gio­vanna per­son­ally – a true fash­ion pro­fes­sional as op­posed to the army of up­start blog­gers who were merely turn­ing up in ever more out­ra­geous out­fits for the sole pur­pose of be­ing pho­tographed – but the ar­ti­cle caught the mood of the mo­ment and un­set­tled even her: ‘ I thought, “Should I just wear black to go to the shows?” But, you know what? I never wore black my whole life. Why should I limit my­self ? It’s an ex­ten­sion of my per­son­al­ity so I re­fused to change be­cause of what peo­ple might think. I don’t un­der­stand what is so dif­fi­cult about a fash­ion per­son who loves fash­ion and who wants to dress up for a fash­ion show!’

For some­one who is pho­tographed ev­ery hour, ev­ery day of the four-week long show marathon, it must re­quire mil­i­tary or­gan­i­sa­tion, I sug­gest? She hoots: ‘Ev­ery sea­son I say I’m go­ing to be so or­gan­ised; I’m go­ing to take pic­tures of my­self wear­ing ev­ery­thing I have and I’m only go­ing to pack those out­fits. Six suit­cases later,’ she laughs, ‘ I just bring ev­ery­thing I have,

ev-ery-thing!’ Still, she is surely in­un­dated with clothes from savvy de­sign­ers who must view her as a price­less walk­ing bill­board? ‘ They are very gen­er­ous,’ she con­firms, ‘ but when I think about my most re­grammed out­fits, it’s al­ways the things that I remix with my own clothes. Not head-to-toe de­signer out­fits, it al­most brings me no luck, it’s strange. Let’s say, what you see, is 80 per cent mine.’

I won­der if it some­times gets on her nerves be­ing pho­tographed con­stantly when she’s rush­ing from show to show? Not at all. She’s shrewd; she knows it’s a two-way street: ‘ You know what? These kids, they make all their money tak­ing pic­tures dur­ing the shows and they have to sur­vive for the next six months! And they are so re­spect­ful and cute, “Gio­vanna, please! Gio­vanna!” How can I not stop for them? Even if some days you’re ex­hausted and want to curl up and sleep.’

So how much does she spend on clothes? ‘No com­ment, ha­haha! Let’s just say I give back to the in­dus­try, a lot!’ !’ What about peo­ple fol­low­ing her on In­sta­gram who can’t af­ford to em­u­late her look, does she ever worry she’s rep­re­sent­ing a lux­ury ideal that is unattain­able to most? She says it’s all about in­spir­ing peo­ple, ‘Nowa­days you can be cre­ative with so much – look at H&M, look at Zara. Yes, my Burberry coat is ex­pen­sive, but you can recre­ate that with vin­tage,’ she pauses. ‘If you want to dream and you want to fol­low me, do it, and if I get on your nerves then un­fol­low me. If jeal­ousy kicks in, which I be­lieve is a dis­ease that is very com­mon, es­pe­cially with women, then just don’t look. I’m not forc­ing any­body.’

Her wed­ding to prop­erty mogul Os­car was no nor­mal hu­man’s wed­ding, but the most ex­trav­a­gant three-day pro­duc­tion that re­sem­bled one long lav­ish cou­ture lo­ca­tion shoot in Capri, played out on In­sta­gram for all to see. With not one but five fab­u­lous be­spoke de­signer dresses: Sarah Bur­ton for Alexan­der Mcqueen for the cer­e­mony (‘She’s so kind, so hum­ble, a ge­nius, I could write a love let­ter about Sarah Bur­ton’) to her good friend Gi­ambat­tista Valli (to party in the night of the wed­ding), to Mi­uc­cia Prada (for the fol­low­ing night’s disco) to Valentino and Thom Browne for her civil cer­e­mony. ‘I was al­ways, like, “I’m not go­ing to get mar­ried”. But I hap­pened to meet this in­cred­i­ble man, so I de­cided to marry and I thought, “For once, it’s for me, not a mag­a­zine, let’s go! Let’s make this fun!”’ (Al­though, of course, it was fea­tured in many mag­a­zines – this one in­cluded.)

Her joie de vivre knows no bounds. ‘I want to have peo­ple around me hav­ing a good time, it makes me feel bet­ter, even if it takes me be­ing the clown for them to be happy, not to be cen­tre stage just, you know, for fun,’ she laughs, danc­ing in a sparkly Saint Lau­rent shift while per­form­ing karate high kicks in crys­tal thigh-high boots, and then: ‘I de­vel­oped this, erm, ow you call it, ar­mour? Like a pos­i­tive de­fence thing be­cause it’s not al­ways so easy, life, the world. It can be re­ally sad and tough, every­one has their prob­lems and tragedies even, so I think I use fash­ion as a thing to escape.’ Com­plain­ing is not in her vo­cab­u­lary. On our shoot, the pro­posed six shots turns into 12 – her idea – and, boy, does she work it. But as she al­ways tells her­self: ‘ There is no other chance than here, today, so just shut up and go. Like, there is no op­tion, plan B does not ex­ist. So, yes, I’m very like that.’ And off she goes, tak­ing us with her on an­other mag­i­cal fash­ion ride. Gio­vanna’s book Gio- gra­phy: Se­ri­ous Fun In The Wild World Of Fash­ion (£29.95, Riz­zoli) is out now

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