>> Anna Dello Russo's appearance in the November 2010 issue of W likely explains why she was spotted at the magazine's offices in July — which at the time spurred rumors that she might be joining Stefano Tonchi's team. The 47-year-old street style star is captured by Juergen Teller in a six-page spread at her Milan home, which consists of two adjacent one-bedroom apartments, one for Dello Russo and one for her clothes. The latter includes a green marble bathroom: "You never know when the clothes might need a bath," Dello Russo quips.
Dello Russo's devotion to clothing goes without saying: she has 4,000 pairs of shoes and 250 black tuxedo jackets. Her first major shopping spree was at 13; she bought a Fendi handbag, umbrella, tissue holder, wallet, and key chain that she wore all together. "It never rains in Bari [where Dello Russo grew up], so my friends asked, 'What are you doing with the umbrella?'" she recalled. "And I said, 'How should I know? It's part of the look!'"
In high school, she once wore a pair of yellow shoes that her cat had used as a litter box the night before — they were part of her all-yellow planned outfit, so she just rinsed them out. "But it got hot in the classroom, and there was this terrible stink of cat pee," she remembers. "I had to confess because I didn't want anyone thinking I had peed in my pants. They all screamed, 'Couldn't you have changed your shoes?'"
Her attitude hasn't changed with age. Now, at the end of every season, Dello Russo clears everything out of her closet (except the furs, which apparently don't have expiration dates in her mind) to make way for new things. "I hate vintage clothes," she tells W, referring even to last year's Prada. "I love the smell of a new store, not an old dress."
As seriously as she takes her dressing, Dello Russo is self-deprecating. She recently told The Daily Beast about combining a Vogue Nippon photo shoot of Alessandra Ambrosio with one of herself for Ten: "There is this beautiful young thing [Ambrosio]. And then me in some of the same clothes. And in my pictures I look like transvestite. Why not?"
And she has had to make sacrifices for the sake of her clothes. "I had to choose between a kitchen and more closets, so I took the closets," Dello Russo says, as W observes her kitchen, described as "the size of a drinks cabinet" with "fingerprint-less cupboards" revealing only sunflower seeds and San Pellegrino. "Anna would eat clothes if she could," says Sophie Djerlal, a colleague from Dello Russo's days at Vogue Italia in the '90s.
She also chose clothes over her former husband, whom she wed in 1996 in a dress with a 60-foot train designed by his best man, Stefano Gabbana. "It barely lasted," Dello Russo said of the marriage. "He said, 'Isn't there some closet space for me?' And I said, 'No.'" She told The Daily Beast that she opted for a black Balenciaga two-piece on the day of her divorce. "Because I was feeling really, really desperate. Balenciaga, Balenciaga! The perfect divorce outfit. Perfect! I looked like the sad, grieving, [widow]. At that time I was not laughing at all. Now? I am laughing every day. Each day is filled with laughter."