It's hard to say what Anna Dello Russo is better known for: What she wears on her body, or what she wears on her head.
Though she does it with more frequency, she's not the only fashion editor wearing off-the-runway looks to events and runway shows. But she's pretty much in a league of her own when it comes to her headgear. She even feels it's her responsibility to keep head pieces alive, which is good for Alan Journo, the man who makes all of her hats, from those sparkly giant pieces of fruit (he commissioned them) to that Peruvian doll she wore on her head at the Prada men's show a few weeks ago.
Journo was nice enough to let us pick his brain about his masterful ability to top fashion's finest. Read on to learn about his long career, what it's been like working with ADR, who really designed that famous cherry hat and more. He's definitely a character, which must be why he and Anna get along so well!
Fashionista: Tell me a little bit about your design process. Where do you start? Where do you find inspiration? Where do you source materials from? Alan Journo: I have visions and I put them in my brain data base, then, when I find the right material (it could be anywhere), they materialize.
What is your background? How did you get your start in design? I started with fashion in 1968 when London was really swinging. Fashion and music (and something else, maybe)...It was a dream! In 1972, I opened my first shop in Rome in the Spanish Steps called "Camomilla." It was an instant success that lasted more than 30 years. In 1982 I opened the first and only Thierry Mugler store in Italy, in Via della Spiga in Milano. Just after that, Michelle Mabelle Milano Monamour (next door to Mugler) and a showroom with the same name distributing all the designers I was selling in the store. In 1996, I opened my first Alan Journo shop, and in 2000, my second in Rome.
I have passed my whole life discovering and promoting young, talented designers and I have never stopped designing my own line. I have a very strong stage vision of fashion. I love playing on the edge, pushing the limits further and further.
Anna Dello Russo recently said that you design all her hats for her. How did the two of you meet? In my shop. Anna has been a longtime faithful customer and a great supporter.
What is it like working with her? Thrilling! What an incredible energy! How many do you know like her?
Is it a collaborative process when you design for her? No, I love to surprise her.
Anna Dello Russo's famous cherry hat is sometimes identified as being designed by you, and at other times by Piers Atkinson. Could you set the record straight? If you designed it, what was the inspiration? You make it sound like if we have a "cherries-gate". The cherries are Piers' design. He is great! When I first saw them I freaked! I gave them to Anna and they became her trade mark. Just after that, I have asked Piers to do so many different versions that I cannot even remember how many they were. Glitter, in any possible color, in gold and black leopard, gold and black zebra, all over Swarovski crystals in the most amazing colors. This is how the cherries mania started!
The Telegraph suggested that Kate Middleton should wear your hats. Would you be interested in designing for her? If she can afford me I will be delighted!
If you could design hats for anyone--be it a historical person, someone alive today or even a fictional character--who would it be? Minnie Mouse.
What is the price range for a typical creation of yours? Between high and very high. I am an expensive guy.
Would you ever be interested in designing a collection for a mainstream label? As I have said before (but this time I am serious), if they can afford me.