May 29, 2009

The Spice of Life, at any age - Anna Piaggi vs Betsey Johnson

Anna Piaggi

Anna Piaggi is an Italian fashion writer and style icon. I was first introduced to her through Fashion Television and The Sartorialist. With her blue kiss curls and kohled eyes, walking sticks and crazy hats this 73-year-old is striking and unmistakable. Her friend, shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, calls her "modern beyond belief." He also dubbed her 'the world's last great authority on frocks'.

Piaggi writes for fashion magazines such as the Italian edition of Vogue. Since 1969 she has used a bright red manual Olivetti typewriter for her work. She shows up at many fashion shows and events dressed in an exuberant and eclectic way. Piaggi never appears in public in the same outfit more than once. Her huge clothes collection includes 2,865 dresses and 265 pairs of shoes.

Although flamboyant and unique I have never seen Anna Piaggi crack a smile. She seems to take herself too seriously. She reminds me of a teacher at Junior-Pup’s elementary school, who on “hat day” wore a gigantic foam fish on her head but didn’t smile all day.

Because of Piaggi’s sullenness, I feel she’s mocking us; reminiscent of street punks with the spiky mohawks who dare us to look and then say, ‘Wot you lookin’ at then?”

Betsey Johnson

Sixty-six year old Betsey Johnson is a fashion designer known for her feminine yet exuberant designs. I've known of her since college days when many of her designs were considered over the top. She’s loves the colour pink and is noted for doing a cartwheel at the end of her fashion shows. Johnson looks happy and fit and has the bod of a lucky 20 year old.

Winning Mademoiselle’s Guest Editor contest started Johnson's fashion career. Soon she became part of both the youthquake fashion movement and Andy Warhol's underground scene. She was married for 3 years to Velvet Underground's John Cale. In 1969, she opened a boutique in New York called Betsey Bunki Nini. Edie Sedgwick was her house model.

As one journalist recently quoted, “If Betsey Johnson didn’t exist; we would have to invent her, simply to remind ourselves that fashion can be fun. She’s the original wild child and set to paint the town pink!”

I’m always taken aback by Johnson’s joie de vivre and energy. She makes me smile.

Which one of these women would you like to share a beer with or a cup of coffee? Which one would you like to have as your mother-in-law (or sister-in-law)? Discuss!

Have a nice weekend everybody!



Judith. Santa Fe said...

My, my ... .

I haven't thought about Betsey Bunky and Nini in a VERY long time, though I've been wearing Betsey since college: which would make it (gulp .. ) almost 40 years!!

I really must grow up.

Well, perhaps I'll just do another cartwheel and think about later


Penney said...

I'm going to go with Betsy, if she doesn't mind.. What fun it would be!!
have a great weekend!

Rouchswalwe said...

Typing on a manual Olivetti is the only way to go, Dahling.

giulia said...

How funny. Last week I went into the newly-relocated Betsey shop (to look) just last week. Always fun tho' haven't worn anything but accessories of hers for long time.

So funny about Anna: she smiles a lot in person. Do not know what's up with that but I'll report back if an answer is easy to find..........

xo susan

Ms. Lucy said...

I'd love to sit and chat with Betsey Johnson- in a flash! But neither one of them as family...thank you very much- These gals are fun to be around and interesting too..but a;)

Ima Wizer said...

I'd say Piaggi.....those curls! I wouldn't be able to take my eyes off them!
As for Betsey Johnson, I modeled in a show of hers at Neiman Marcus in 1970! A funny story, too! I'll have to write it down and share it. It still makes me laugh.....I'll do it this weekend! Haven't thought of it in years and years!

The Clever Pup said...

IMA, No way!! Do tell all.

Brian Miller said...

i would think it would be intriguing to have a sit witht he wild child, er the second of the two. as i know little abou teither, i can not add much to this debate.

Rinkly Rimes said...

The first would make me feel superior because I'm the one having fun.

The second would make me feel inferior because she's having so much more fun than I am!

So I really don't know which one I'd choose!

Sandra Leigh said...

I'm with Brian. This is my introduction to both the ladies in question (I'm such a fashionista) - but based on your post, I'd run away from Anna. Betsey looks much friendlier - and joie de vivre is irresistible, isn't it?

lettuce said...

oh definately the 2nd one!
though wouldn't mind the first as a great-aunt....

2,865 dresses. Blimey.

sallymandy said...

Well, this was kind of easy. I'd rather chat with Betsey. Hazel, I'm glad you said what you said about Anna. I guess many writers want to be deferential to her, and that's fine...I'm all for respect; but I've never seen why she ranks. She's just a little frightening to me, and now I realize it's not about the clothes; it's about what you said--NO SMILES!

Great post; lots of fun.

Ladybug said...

Mmmm, perhaps Piaggi, just to observe but I doubt if she'd even notice I was there!!

☆sapphire said...


Betsey Johnson has more than 10 shops in Japan but I didn't know she is still such fantastic. Awesome.... and awesome iaggi..... is RARE GEM! Enjoyed a lot! Thanks!!

Poetikat said...

I would like to SEE Piaggi (from a distance), but I'd like to MEET Betsey JOhnson.
(Piaggi reminds me of my mil. (Did I just say that?))


Baino said...

Betsey I think although I'm such an anti-fashionista that I've never heard of either of them. I'd still go with the smile! Man, just read your creme de menthe trifley thingy . .that is so going on the Christmas table

Chrisy said...

I want to BE Betsy Johnson!

Bee said...

Betsey Johnson . . . although I probably wouldn't wear any of her clothes!

Tina Tarnoff said...

Love, love, love both of them!! I crave a certain Betsey Johnson bag that I can't aford.. boo hoo! I love how both of them are so alive, colorful and unique. I just learned recently that Betsey hang around with the Warhol gang, never knew that!

Betsey for my mother-in-law, Anna as a drinking pal!!


corine said...

They rock. I want to be like them when i grow up.