Anna Dello Russo, the Italian style icon perennially adorned to the hilt, has never encountered a sparkling bag or bauble that she didn’t like. Her collection of extraordinary accessories is so vast that she keeps a separate apartment in Milan just for storage in. “I am like a guardian of fashion,” she explains. “I collect it as if it’s my job.” Dello Russo has translated this unabashed taste for excess into a wonderfully over-the-top accessories line for H&M, debuting next month. Among the fanciful offerings: a green feathered headpiece, traffic-stopping thigh-high stiletto boots, cat’s-eye sunglasses with bedazzled alligators on the brow, and a baroque gold- and-turquoise trolley in which to carry it all. “Every piece has to be fun—otherwise why would someone buy it?” she says. To better understand her creative process, we asked Dello Russo to walk us through some of the sensational loot.
“I don’t like bijoux when they look modern—I love Elizabeth Taylor–era jewels from Harry Winston or Bulgari or David Webb. But they have to be well done, so they’re hard to find. There used to be a big market for American pieces from the fifties and sixties and Italian ones from the seventies, but not anymore—you have to go to flea markets and antiquaries to find the right ones [like those above]. Of course, I also adore real jewels, and I have a collection of those, though it’s not as big as I wish.”
“For a long time, we didn’t wear headpieces. Why not? They’re such an important part of fashion. I’m totally crazy for them—I have ones from Alan Journo, Piers Atkinson, Philip Treacy—but in order to store them properly, I had to start buying heads, and then wigs [left]. So now my collection is a little scary. A veil gives you a very sensual attitude, like what a high heel does for a leg. Of course it’s difficult to eat or drink when you’re wearing one. But it’s so chic, I don’t care.”
“The concept for the H&M collection [some pieces shown above] was to make your daily life like a Fashion Week. So, I started with a trolley to fit everything in: five pairs of shoes, three gold clutches, three pairs of sunglasses, a headpiece, lots of jewelry, a beauty case, an umbrella, a diary with illustrations by the fashion blogger Lula, and a cute shopping bag to carry with you when you buy more stuff. It’s pretty expansive, but I’m known for exaggeration.”
“When I moved from my old apartment 10 years ago, I counted my shoes—4,000 pairs. This cabinet [left] is a window display of my mood now, which is all about fun, shiny shoes. I have lots of Yves Saint Laurent, Louboutin, Prada…I can’t say which is my favorite; I like the look of all of them together. It’s great therapy for my eyes.”