Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tom & Anna

Everybody knows Anna Dello Russo. She is a star of the Fashion streets. But it wasn't always like that. There is one person behind, well not so behind anymore, everyone knows Tommy Ton. Waiting for their exhibition When Tommy Met Anna in Toronto, I decided to study the subject a little.

Who is Anna?

It's not who.. it's whatwho. I am sure you've heard a lot of people asking "what is this supposed to be?" " how could anyone ever wear this?" "This fashion is only for the show..." Believe it or not, the world has found a person who can wear every heute piece, even when it's 10 am. That's why she so special. 

Look at this picture...comparing two women wearing almost the same color, length and sunglasses. Different worlds, different dimensions.

When you enter her blog, it's like you get back into 00's when everything was in glitter and moving - that's what I felt at first (actually, I even though about it being a fake website, but then I thought - well, it's definitely her style, no doubts.

 Once described by Helmut Newtonas a "fashion maniac", Anna Dello Russo is currently the Editor At Large and creative consultant forVogue Japan. 

Anna spent 18 years at Conde Nast Italia starting as a Fashion Editor at Vogue Italia she went on to become Editor of L'Uomo Vogue from 2000-2006. 

Anna was born in Bari in Southern Italy, and now lives in Milan with her dog Cucciolina. 

She is an avid collector of fashion and jewellery and describes herself as a passionate fashionista.

She loves all the attention, and she worked damn hard to get it. "I used to be like Cinderella, working hard in the kitchen. Now finally I've been invited to the ball."

To Anna, the world is a runway, or in some cases, an editorial. "It's my first job to make myself up. I style myself like I style a model. You should put your passion on yourself before translating to other people."

She practices what she preaches. Anna dresses the way she does because: "It's a job, but on me. It's like going to the dentist – if you go to the dentist and the dentist doesn't have beautiful white teeth... then how good is he?"

Instead of a 401(k), she has a few full closets—and in case you were wondering, she DOES pay retail. 
"All my money, all my passion goes into the best, the key pieces of fashion. The pieces people want to see in the future."

She's been livin' the dream since she was a baby. "I don't have this routine life. I don't go into the office; I'm travelling around the world. I'm lucky. But I never liked easy clothes in my life. My mother said, 'You want a pair of jeans?' and I said, 'No, mother, I want a couture dress!'"

Yes, she knows that her accessories are absurd. "Sometimes I feel ridiculous, but it's in a good way. Like the watermelon [she wore on her head], I love that. It's such an Italian touch of humour."

She owes everything to street-style photographers like Tommy Ton and Scott Schuman. "They made me. They made a new career."

Who is Tom?

The 25-year-old Toronto fashion know-it-all doesn't want to wear them. He wants to photograph them and post them on his Jak and Jil Blog, which has, in six months, become a breakout hit with fashion enthusiasts around the world.

From small beginnings, he now boasts 25,000 page views a day.
This is how it works.
Pretty much on his own nickel, Ton loiters outside fashion shows in New York or Milan or Paris, waiting stealthily for the right pair of shoes on the right editor or model to saunter by.
Then he pounces.
"I'm a stalker," he admits. "If I see a pair of shoes I like, I'll follow them down the street. I'm not creepy. But I am obsessive."
For a photographer/blogger with a shoe fetish, Paris, he says, is nirvana.
But there is something unique about Ton that separates him from the pack of fashion paparazzi, all there to capture and sell images of fashion celebrities in their finery.
He is a label savant.
Ton's ability to identify articles of high fashion with his photographic memory has given him a unique identity. In a flash, he can also name the designer and the season for which it was created. And his remarkable gift has endeared him to the industry's top players.
Ton charms senior international editors with his polite Canadian ways and his wicked knowledge.
He has little time for the prefabricated looks of Hollywood-style celebrities because he believes his audience is bored with the starlets they know have been styled by a professional.
Rather, Ton wants to photograph the seriously connected fashion editors, buyers and stylists because they pull themselves together. They live at fashion's ground zero.
These people include Kate Lanphear, the style director of Elle magazine and, of course, his dream girl, Carine Roitfeld, the editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue. Roitfelt is considered, along with American Vogue's Anna Wintour, to be one of the world's top fashion players.
"I realized the power of blogging when I posted a photo of Kate Lanphear's wrist. People contacted me and wanted to see more photos of the bangles on her wrist.
"It's ridiculous but I understand them completely," he says. "They are living vicariously through my blog."
Now he and Roitfeld share a ritual in which she struggles to stump the un-stumpable Ton.
"She really likes to test me. Once, after I had identified every garment she was wearing, I was thrown by the shoes – but then she told me they hadn't even been on a runway yet."
It all began in Oakville, where Ton still lives with his parents. He was 13 – a "nerdy kid who liked comic books" – when he laid the foundation of his career.
"I spent a lot of time sketching and that's how I made friends. I used it as a tool to become popular."
Then, one time when his older sister was out of town, she asked him to tape episodes ofFashion Television. Ton was struck by the spring 1997 heroin chic Gucci collection by Tom Ford. "The makeup, the hair and the way Tom spoke so intelligently about fashion. I was hooked."
He started taping every episode so he could watch them over and over. In four years, he wore out three VCRs, much to his father's consternation. He would ride his bicycle to the library to read Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, sometimes ripping out pages to paste on his bedroom walls. "It became my life."
The obsession has only intensified. When he's not chasing a pair of shoes down the streets of Milan or Paris, he's reading other fashion blogs like
Ton appreciates fully that his perception of the world is extremely narrow. "What's relevant for me is what's happening in fashion, not what's happening in the world."
For example, when Princess Diana was killed, Newsworld pre-empted the television showFashion File to devote itself completely to coverage of the breaking story and funeral. Ton was nonplussed.
At 16, he went to work for Toronto designer Wayne Clark. Then he went to the Holt Renfrew sales floor, eventually ending up in their buying office.
For a time, he contributed a column to Flare magazine and took a job with Linda Latner, overseeing her Vintage Couture website. "I still work for her. Her site is like a fashion museum. She has been a tremendous mentor. I'm like her tech guy."
Since starting, Ton has made a conscious effort to separate himself from the many street photographers who lurk outside fashion show venues, shooting anyone wearing an outfit they believe might sell.
"I call them the pigeons, the way they jump all over each other to get a picture."
Then came the call. Just before Christmas, a representative of the giant Asian retailer Lane Crawford asked Ton if he would shoot their 2009 campaign.
"I thought. `How can this be possible? This is the biggest luxury retailer in China. I'm not even a photographer and I'd only been blogging for three months.'"
Lane Crawford flew Ton to Paris in January, explaining that they wanted their complete year-long campaign to be photographed as if it were street fashion. Ton says the project "validates me as a creative person."
Some of the campaign used the couture shows as a backdrop. For others, a makeshift fashion venue was constructed in the Le Jardin des Tuilerie, near the Louvre.
"They wanted the images to look like my blog."

His blog receives so many requests for photos from around the world that he can't keep up with demand. "I may have to hire an assistant," he says. But he has not made his millions yet. When at home, he still takes the bus to New York to cover the collections.
Yet he'll fork over any amount for a Rick Owens leather jacket – the leather one with the crinkled surface.
"I'm like Carrie Bradshaw. If there is something I want, I'll get it, even if I have to wait for it to come up on eBay. I would starve for fashion."

How did they meet?
The exhibition is called When Tommy Met Anna. Tommy, do you remember when you first spotted her?
Tommy Ton: I do remember the first time I photographed her. It was March 2007, outside Galliano. She was wearing a gold D&G chain mesh top. She was very hesitant about being photographed. And then the next morning at Nina Ricci, which was Olivier Theyskens’ first show for Nina Ricci, she was wearing a silver sequined dress and a fox-fur collar and I was like, what is this woman on? I couldn’t believe she was wearing this at 10 in the morning. I only discovered her the last two days of Paris fashion week.

The next season, that’s when I started to realize this woman really dresses up, so I started taking her picture. I had a hard time photographing her, asking her to stop, because she wasn’t used to the idea of being photographed. It took maybe a couple seasons to realize she’s like a creature in the wild—you have to photograph them while they’re being who they are. When she appears, it’s kind of like a movie set, like the stars on set—just to see her change multiple times within the day, I realized, this is someone to photographed. With the popularity of my blog, and featuring Anna so much on, I think that’s when people realized she’s a force to be reckoned with.

And what about the first official meeting?
TT: For the longest time, she was wondering who Tommy Ton was. She kept trying to figure it out. I’m very quiet, I’m very passive. One of her assistants found out who I was. On the last day of Milan, September 2009, she came up to me and was like, “You are Tom.” I was frightened of her, so I was like, “Yes, I am Tom.” And she said, “Good work.” And she just walked away. I thought, Wow, she is speaking to me now. That was the breaking point, that this woman who I was, like, stalking, was aware of who I was and what I work with and found out what I look like. From that point on, it became an interesting dialogue and then a friendship.

Anna Dello Russo: I met Tommy at the shows, of course. I remember, this phenomenon [of] blogs taking pictures of us…It’d been a couple of seasons, and the number of blog photographers was bigger. I think I was so clueless about this phenomenon, I was always looking at the JakAndJil blog. But nobody knew Tommy, because he’s in a kind of hiding. I remember [asking], who is JakAndJil? We would guess, me and my team—maybe he’s an Australian photographer, maybe he’s whatever.

Finally, a girl from my team said the photographer is called Tommy Ton. So many names! Tommy Ton, JakAndJil. During a show, somebody said, oh, this is it—and points [out] Tommy. I say, oh, that’s Tommy! Looks so cute! Looks so lovely! I came to him and said, are you Tommy Ton? He said, yes, pleased to meet you. I said, finally! Nobody knows who you are, how you look. He told me when we met that he used to photograph me and I used to be rude to him because I didn’t recognize him at the beginning. But I was just surprised about the phenomenon, shocked how many people were looking at us, taking pictures of us. But finally when I understood it was him, I came to him and introduced myself.

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