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Anna Piaggi, Fashion Journalist, Dies At 81 (PHOTOS)

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MILAN -- Fashion journalist Anna Piaggi, who provided inspiration for designer Karl Lagerfeld and was celebrated for her own eccentric style, died Tuesday. She was 81.

Vogue Italia said on its website that she died in Milan. No cause of death was given.

For years, Piaggi's vibrant dress sense – including funky hats and theatrical makeup – made her stand out on the front rows of Milan and Paris runway shows.

Piaggi started her career as a translator for Mondadori publishing company, and went on to write for, among others, Vogue Italia. She provided inspiration for Lagerfeld, who published a sketchbook of her creations and once wrote "Anna invents fashion."

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London held an exhibition in 2006 of her extensive wardrobe collection, including thousands of dresses and hundreds of pairs of shoes.

Master milliner Stephen Jones paid tribute to Piaggi, saying she had served as his "guiding light and an inspiration" and praising her for her "effervescence and inventiveness."

In a statement to The Associated Press, the British hat designer for royalty and superstars reminisced about how Piaggi would call him and "say `Ah, Stephen, I am doing a wonderful thing and I need a new hat.'"

Jones said he had visited Piaggi in her apartment just two weeks ago, and they were making plans to take in the men's shows in London in January.

Jones said Piaggi was not only his muse, she was also "a talisman for all those around the world who believe that fashion is a way of life and that freedom of expression should manifest itself in what we wear."

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