The late, great Anna Piaggi has long been one of my fashion idols, right up there with Rei Kawakubo, Isabella Blow, and Iris Apfel. And this is saying a lot, because I try not to put people on pedestals lest they cease to be real humans with problems and imperfections of their own. But Anna was kind of unavoidably iconic—she was a fashion journalist and editor at Italian Vogue; her collection of clothes was museum-worthy; she was Karl Lagerfeld’s muse in the ’60s and ’70s, which I think were the best two decades of his career; Manolo Blahnik designed her shoes. So not only was she the star of her own play—she directed it, too.

I first came across Anna four years ago when I was devouring fashion books. This was a few months after I started my own fashion blog, and I was starved for knowledge. I saw a picture of Anna with Isabella Blow, with whom I was obsessed at the time. As a pair, they were so vibrant and unapologetically eclectic, their every outfit was a celebration and a spectacle. Anna wasn’t about being chic—she just wore whatever made her happy, like a true fashion peacock.

At left, Piaggi with Isabella Blow

Anna’s makeup was a crucial part of her signature style—blue eye shadow, bright red lipstick, marionette-style orange blush, and a heavily powdered face. It was awesome because it was such a departure from the effortless, windswept beauty that fashion frequently prefers. Anna’s sensibility was a flurry of rainbows and textures—the makeup tied it all together. And it wasn’t necessarily pretty—in fact, it was over the top and clownish. But she could get away with it, and that was just so cool, because it was so obviously an expression of what she wanted rather than what she thought others wanted to see. She walked all over the rules, and when she passed away last month at the age of 81, the fashion industry lost a truly unique individual. I miss her, so in tribute, I wanted to replicate her look for you. I’m not sure how many of us feel comfortable going full-Anna, so I’ve noted places where you can pull back a little for a more subtle effect.

Products I used:

  • Urban Decay’s Peace. I think the shade of blue is pretty important. Anna didn’t really stray from periwinkle or turquoise.
  • Tarina Tarantino’s Eye Dream Hyperliner in Kanzashi. Wet ’n Wild and Milani are solid options if you’re looking for an alternative.
  • I used a discontinued Korean blush, but I recommend NYX’s Cinnamon. A peachy orange is OK, as long as it is recognizably orange.
  • Urban Decay’s Big Fatty Mascara
  • Dr. Jart+’s Water Fuse Beauty Balm. Use whatever foundation or BB cream works for you.
  • Urban Decay’s Super Saturated Lip Color in Fbomb. A bright, classic red is best and super easy to find, from Revlon to Tom Ford.
  • e.l.f. Studio Tone Correcting Powder
  • Powder brush, eye-shadow brush, eyelash curler (optional)

Step One:
Slap that base makeup on! Or don’t slap. That is unnecessarily painful. Unless you’re into that. I’m using BB cream to even out my redness and give me a little coverage. Dab a little bit on your eyelids, too, so it doubles as primer.

Step Two:
Eye shadow time. Be fearless with the application—it should cover your entire eyelid, although you shouldn’t go above the crease. When you’re dealing with bright colors, tap the excess eye shadow off your brush before applying it. This prevents little specks of color from dropping onto your face and ruining the rest of your makeup. With a really pigmented shadow, one layer should be enough. Otherwise, you might need a few layers to achieve the brightness you’re looking for. If you don’t have double lids, don’t worry! You can make a little eye-shadow wing by pulling the color up at the corners, toward the tips of your brows.

Step Three:
Eyeliner! Personally, I think whenever you’re doing a colorful eye, you should bring it down to your lower lash line. The shade doesn’t have to match, as long as it is in the same family. It just makes everything look more finished. Party everywhere on your face, you feel me? For my lower lash line, I used a turquoise eyeliner to unify the look. I personally didn’t fill in my waterline, though you can if you want an even more intense look. Line the upper lash line a little too, but don’t overdo it. This look is all about the shadow. The liner just adds a little more definition and depth.

Step Four:

Mascara. Curl your eyelashes first to maximize dramatic lash potential. (I imagined saying that in a British accent, and as though I was doing a voiceover for a makeup commercial.) I did multiple coats of mascara, wiggling the brush slowly upwards from the roots of my lashes. To avoid clumps, make sure the mascara brush isn’t globby to begin with (wipe off any excess on the corner of the tube or on a napkin). Afterwards, you can run a dry mascara brush through your lashes to even the distribution. If you want to apply falsies as well, more power to ya.

Step Five:
BLUSH!!! This is the most fearless part of Anna’s look in my opinion. It’s definitely what I remember most. I’m really scared of blush most of the time, but for Anna, I ground my brush into my orange blush like it called my mother a bad name, tapped off the excess (which there was a lot of), and applied it just above the apples of my cheeks. There are several different methods of applying blush–you could follow your cheekbone line by sucking in your cheeks, or smile and apply it to the apples. For a direct interpretation, it’s important to apply it in a very round, obvious manner.

Step Six:
Lip gloss and/or lipstick, depending on how close to Anna’s signature you wanna go. I find that with bright lip colors, such as this one, if you don’t apply it perfectly just by swiping the tube on your lips, the color can emphasize any uneven application. So you can apply to the edge of your lips using a lip brush, and then fill in the rest, or you can just apply it directly from the tube and then fix your mistakes with a Q-tip afterwards, like I did.

Set your makeup with some powder. I applied a lot, because I wanted it to look overdone. Swirl your brush into the powder, and then tap the brush on your face. I didn’t tap off any excess, because I wanted it to look very matte as this is what gave Anna her dollish look.

Now, for a true Anna homage, I think it’s important to top it all off with a hat. I didn’t (sorry!), because I was having an incredibly good hair day and was too selfish to sacrifice myself to hat hair. But if you want to accentuate your Anna-imitation, and I recommend that you do, check out Luna on the Moon. All of her items are glittery and weird, and she makes really lovely headpieces. I will be purchasing one for my birthday. Also, Fizzy Fascinators offer straight-up bizarre and wonderful accessories, too. I mean, you can wear a XYLOPHONE ON YOUR HEAD! Anna would approve. ♦