Italian, 30s on the horizon, an ex-model, and currently a fashion editor, Giovanna Battaglia is a silhouette and a temper. And that is without even mentioning her irresistible voice. In a few seasons, she has imposed herself as one of the most inspirational style figures of her generation.
An extra-slender figure, brown almond eyes, long ebony tresses, the eye-catching physique of Giovanna Battaglia cannot easily hide her origins. Her father is Sicilian, her mother from Calabria, the fashion editor grew up for the most part in Milan. “My first address was 1 via Montenapoleone (the equivalent of L’avenue Montaigne),” she says. “If that is not an omen, I don’t know what is!” A freelancer working for, among others, L'Uomo Vogue, the American and Italian versions of Vanity Fair, and the Chinese and German Vogues, she lives today between New York and the capital of Lombardy [Milan]. “As a teenager, while my friends all had Take That posters in their rooms, I had those of Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford. At the age of 14, I was already smitten.” Her art studies quickly folded, a model since the age of 16, Giovanna melted the Dolce & Gabbana team, who made her their in-house model. “I spent eight years stuck to Stefano and Domenico,” she says. “My adolescence in a way was an endless rounds of fittings, voyages, parties, vacations…One could say that they are kind of my family. They used to call me their musina.” A little muse with a feisty nature, without complete knowledge of the language, who dreamed of expressing herself in her turn. “I was a bad model. I would give my opinion on everything.” Since then, becoming a stylist emerged as an obvious path.
“The first word that comes to mind is glamour,” she says. “And, I hope, sexy. I dread the ‘total look’. Nothing is worse than resembling a photo on style.com.” Each of Giovanna’s appearances at the fashion shows is a lesson in class and is witness to her passion without restraint for fashion. Among her favourite designers, mixed naturally according to her mood, are Dolce & Gabbana, Lanvin, Balenciaga, Ferré, Chanel (for the mini-dresses), Marni, Miu Miu, Ferretti, McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent, and Derek Lam. “One cannot forget Azzedine Alaïa. Each time you go out wearing Alaïa, you can be sure that you will not return alone…”
“Either very long, in vintage Azzaro, Yves Saint Laurent (Stefano Pilati is the chiffon God), or very short, in Gucci, Balenciaga, or more Balmain.” And in both cases, perched upon very high heels.
“I plunder Topshop. It is inevitably my first shopping stop when I am in London. Right now, I have a weakness for the boot cut, the 70s cuts.”
CRUSH OF THE SEASON
“My checked trousers from Balenciaga from the autumn/winter pre-collection.”
“Comfort shoes. They kill!”
“My absolute priority: shoes. I have about 250 pairs, mainly high heels. Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Roger Vivier, Alaïa, Giuseppe Zanotti. I also have several pairs of ballerina flats from Chanel, Alaïa, Lanvin, and Marc Jacobs. Handbags, thankfully I own in smaller quantities. This winter I alternated Corto Moltedo, Dolce & Gabbana, and Prada. Without forgetting my Hermès Birkin. In the Italian bourgeoisie, the adage is that you should not own a Birkin until you reach the age of 30. I didn’t wait.”
IN HER BAG
An iPod (tune of the moment, Peter Bjorn and John’s "Young Folks"), her Bose headphones, a gold Dupont, a tube of YSL’s Touche Eclat (ideal for perfecting her appearance), her credit cards, her Blackberry, her passport, and her Smythson notebooks branded with her name...”Gio.” “When I am on a flight, I make use of the time by maintaining my journal. It is therapeutic.”
"I do not lack for watches. Notably, a Cartier ‘Ballon Bleu’ in yellow gold, and a steel Rolex. I like family jewelry, presents from my mother like a pair of pendants made of links of platinum and diamonds by Sabbadini, a Milanese jeweler." Her wish list: everything from Cartier’s "Panther" collection. An address: the jewelery boutique Karry’O in Paris, "an inexhaustible mine."
"I wear silk pyjamas from Olatz that I buy in New York. When you slip them on, you could be deep in the heart of Texas in a seedy hotel, but you feel as if you are in a suite at the Crillon. I also like to scent my sheets with rose water from Santa Maria Novella.”
“I usually start the day with a hot shower. But if I wake up in a numb mood, I take a bath with Bigelow Mustard Bath. It’s one of the oldest pharmacies in New York. They have these amazing citron shower gels. I use a moisturizing cream for my body, Bliss Body Cream. My fragrance is Escentric Molecules. When I apply it, people come up and start talking to me… It’s unstoppable. For the face, it’s pretty minimal. I moisturize with Chanel's Hydramax, a dab of Dior Eyes Ultra Capture Totale, YSL’s Touche Eclat, NARS cheek blush, and a swipe of lipstick, Calvin Klein’s Natural Rose. And always, mascara on the eyelashes.”
“Nothing regular. I run and I especially love to swim. I can swim two miles in the sea without stopping. I think I have the largest collection of diving goggles that you can imagine. I wear them systematically because I am terrified of jellyfish.”
A white Goyard bag with her name “Gio” tattoed on the side, her computer, a Loro Piana cashmere travel rug, a ton of fashion and gossip magazines, Marc Jacobs cashmere socks, a trio of scented Jo Malone candles, and scarves. “I was once at a photo shoot in the desert. My motel room was depressing. All I needed to do was drape scarves over the lamps, put my travel rug on the bed, buy some pillows from the corner supermarket, and light the candles for me to feel magically at home.”
“It is in New York, in my apartment in the Village, that I feel at home. I try to spend as much time as possible there.” On the 11th floor, with a view over the rooftops of downtown, the space is pure with white walls, bohemian furniture, and a contagious sense of comfort. Piles of books and framed photos are placed on the ground, disparate carpets and reflective lamps warm up all the rooms, a white fox blanket gives the room a cozy 70s accent that would not displease Tom Ford. What about her Milanese mansion? “I am moving so it does not resemble much of anything anymore. Let’s just say that it is a wardrobe with a bathtub.”