Plus The woman ev­ery­one wants to look like

There’s a new fash­ion star on the block – and it’s her spirit, not just her clothes, that we ad­mire, says Char­lie Gowans-eglin­ton

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page -

Fash­ion muse Gio­vanna Battaglia En­gel­bert is a shop as­sis­tant’s dream. “I watched the Burberry show through In­sta­gram, and the next day I ar­rived in Lon­don and thought I’d check it out in the store. That day, I ended up buy­ing two skirts and a coat from the new col­lec­tion – I thought, I need this skirt right now. The as­sis­tant was like: ‘Oh, shall I wrap this for you?’ And I said: ‘You don’t un­der­stand, I’m walk­ing out of the store with this skirt on.’ ”

A fash­ion ed­i­tor for ti­tles in­clud­ing Ja­panese Vogue and W Magazine,

Battaglia En­gel­bert got her start in the in­dus­try as a model for Dolce & Gab­bana at 17, but turned her back on it be­cause she wanted more con­trol over styling and make-up. An early adopter of In­sta­gram, she built her pro­file quickly by us­ing it to net­work and es­tab­lish her­self as a fash­ion au­thor­ity be­yond the pages of mag­a­zines. To­day, she is seen as the woman ev­ery­one would want to dress like (if they dared to and had the bud­get). When she at­tends the bi-an­nual fash­ion shows, she at­tends not just as an ed­i­tor, but as one of the “pea­cocks”, chang­ing out­fits mul­ti­ple times a day – one mo­ment feath­ers, the next, se­quins, and all de­signer – with the aim of be­ing pho­tographed by the wait­ing pa­parazzi. They’re a breed of­ten scorned by the “work­ing” show­go­ers fil­ing copy to dead­line, though with brand part­ner­ships worth a lot of money, this is work to many of this new co­hort.

With very long legs and the deep pock­ets to match, 38-year-old Battaglia En­gel­bert could be an easy fig­ure to dis­like, es­pe­cially for the ma­jor­ity of us for whom clothes shop­ping en­tails hunt­ing for things that fit our bod­ies and our bud­get. How­ever, Battaglia En­gel­bert’s ap­peal comes not only through her style, but also be­cause she has a trump card that so many in fash­ion lack – a sense of hu­mour. That sense of hu­mour, along with an abil­ity

(and the nerve) to wear any­thing, is the ba­sis of her book, Gio_g­ra­phy: Fun

in the Wild World of Fash­ion (Riz­zoli, £29.95), out this week. It’s a style man­ual – at least, of sorts. “It’s more about mis­takes, this book, than a how-to guide,” she laughs,

“like when you have to go from work to cock­tails su­per quickly, you’re go­ing to end up brush­ing your teeth with mas­cara.” It spans from every­day – how to wear red, how to style out a bro­ken zip – to the ex­treme, like how to go to the loo in a ball gown. Both ends of the spec­trum are il­lus­trated with pic­tures of Battaglia En­gel­bert lead­ing by ex­am­ple – which in this in­stance, means a photo of her on said loo in said ball gown.

It’s the fan­tasy fash­ion life that is the real ap­peal though – a show­case for Battaglia En­gel­bert’s spirit that we could all use a lit­tle of, her will­ing­ness to try, her abil­ity not to take her­self too se­ri­ously. To have fun.

“Why not? I’m just say­ing that in my world, I think that be­ing cool is a bore and be­ing fun is more glam­orous! At the end of the day, fash­ion is us chang­ing cos­tumes, it’s the things we put on our bod­ies to have a good time. I think the worst is to be vic­timised by the clothes you wear. To watch a girl who can­not walk in high heels, and see her suf­fer­ing. It’s meant to be fun. Be­ing fun is not nec­es­sar­ily me be­ing a clown all the time, but I can’t be the one who takes my­self su­per se­ri­ously, and says: ‘To­day I’m go­ing to wear this min­i­mal look be­cause I want to look in­tel­lec­tual.’ No.”

Be­ing brought up in Mi­lan by par­ents who were both artists could ex­plain how both Battaglia En­gel­bert and her sis­ter Sara, a hand­bag de­signer, ended up as such cre­ative free­dom fight­ers. Now, she di­vides her time be­tween New York, Stock­holm and, just lately, the English coun­try­side with her hus­band, Os­car En­gel­bert, the Swedish real-es­tate mogul.

The pair mar­ried last year in a cer­e­mony that spanned days, coun­tries, and mul­ti­ple dress changes. First, a Valentino gown for a small cer­e­mony in Swe­den, then Alaïa to wel­come guests to Capri the night be­fore the wed­ding. “On the day of the cer­e­mony, I had three be­cause I couldn’t… I think each one of them was built for that pur­pose. I love fash­ion so much, it was a nat­u­ral de­ci­sion to have many changes. If I could have kept the big Mcqueen dress through the din­ner, I prob­a­bly would have done it. It’s just that I would have had to have had 50 fewer guests to make room for the dress, so I went for the guests in­stead.” The bride changed into a Gi­ambat­tista Valli gown for danc­ing; metal­lic Prada was cus­tom-made for a party the fol­low­ing day.

“I’ve been like this since I was eight years old. I think my style will evolve as I evolve. My mother was a good ex­am­ple of el­e­gance, but then I went crazy ba­nanas like any teenager. And I don’t have kids now, so I don’t know what I’m go­ing to do after, when I do. That’s an­other chap­ter. I look at my girl­friends who have kids, and they have com­fort­able mo­ments, and when they’re back in shape or what­ever, they go be­yond fash­ion, even more than be­fore.”

Women around the world look to her for style in­spi­ra­tion – in­ten­tion­ally or not, she can set even the un­like­li­est of trends. Is there any­thing she’d never wear, I ask her. “Never say never.” Ex­cept… she hes­i­tates. “I have to say, I would never wear Crocs. Never, even if Christo­pher Kane made them. That’s where I draw the line.” For the rest of us, that’s prob­a­bly a good thing.

‘My mother was a good ex­am­ple of el­e­gance, but then I went crazy ba­nanas’

Lady in red… and white: at Paris Fash­ion Week this month, left. Her wed­ding last year had a gown by Alexan­der Mcqueen, above, and Gi­ambat­tista Valli for danc­ing

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