Stylist Giovanna Battaglia has loved fashion since she was in the womb. As a kid she would design clothes for her Barbies and put on fashion shows. Eventually, she moved onto human models, casting her sister and brother for more pretend fashion shows. Now Battaglia is one of the hottest stylists working in the industry, with credits that include Italian Vogue, Gianfranco Ferré, and Dolce & Gabbana to name a few. When she moved to New York from Milan almost two months ago she started styling for W magazine, run by her longtime friend Stefano Tonchi. The former model who got her first job as a fashion editor in 2001 now lives on the Upper East Side, freelances for W, and tries to resist making too many trips to Barneys. We recently rang up the glamorous Italian to chat about being a street style blog star, how she deals with New York closet space, and fashion's need for "some good glam."
You have a vast clothing collection — did you move all of it to New York?
No, I kept the Milan house. It’s too much. I always go back to Milan every month, month and a half. My sister is taking care of my house, so she will try my clothes on and send me pictures sometimes.
Does that make you nervous? Are you protective of your clothes?
Yes, some shoes are really untouchable — or maybe there's some delicate chiffon dress or something. There are gold Louboutin shoes that are like amazing; there are white Manolos from the cover of his book — a white pair with black piping. I made the mistake once of wearing them to a party and ruined them.
So how are you coping with your closet space now in the city?
It’s okay — never enough, but it’s okay. But it’s good because I always wear things maybe once and I forget about them, so as long as I have a month of clothes that I like it’s kind of nice to wear them in different ways.
Do you dress differently in New York than you do in Milan?
New York pushed me to dress up more. I know it’s kind of the opposite for New Yorkers, who want to dress down cool.
Is your style more uptown or downtown?
I’d say I’m a mix of the two, not too uptown, not too downtown — but not much Lower East Side. It’s not that I don’t like it, I love to watch them. It’s just not me. I’m not a new Yorker — I would look ridiculous, I think. But I love to see the kids dressed up.
Of course, you have a European sensibility when it comes to dressing. How would you describe your personal style?
I never know what to say! I always invent stuff randomly — kind of polished but still glamorous. Not too overloaded, but I try to have fun with myself, dressing up, not being too obvious. Sometimes I'm just classic or wear a crazy pair of shoes or accessories, but I never overload it.
Do you have a less is more or more is more approach to dressing?
I always say too much is never enough — it’s my favorite saying. But obviously you have to have the eye. Don’t just put stuff on because you want to wear the coolest pair of shoes — wear them just because it kind of works in the outfit. But definitely don't be too minimal.
How do you feel about being a favorite on personal style blogs like the Sartorialist and Jak & Jil?
It’s flattering. Thank god there were not these blogs ten years ago when I was doing crazy things. Of course your style evolves with your lifestyle, like when I was working with more Dolce & Gabbana, for instance, I was experimenting with some crazy, crazy, crazy outfits, but that was normal because it was 2000 and everyone had fashion fever. I only had party clothes so I was wearing party clothes during the day. So life slightly changed.
Do you feel pressured to dress in a way that will get you on the blogs?
When I feel the pressure usually I do the wrong outfit. Sometimes my friend makes jokes about it, 'You better look good!' or whatever and then I completely ruin the outfit. If I don’t have the right outfit on I cannot even go to a meeting. The way you see yourself, it just psyches up your mind for the day. If you dress too comfy or too relaxed for a tough business day — I cannot endure. For a woman I think it’s fundamental, and there are the women that have to wear a uniform every day. I am illogical — I jump from different styles and types of meetings and situations every day. If was a lawyer my clothes would be different.
Whose style do you admire?
The lawyer of my mom in Milano — she is my fashion icon. She dresses so well — it's serious fashion — in a business power suit or power dress, but still like super sexy and glamorous. When I see these women I’m super happy.
What was the first designer item you bought?
A Dolce & Gabbana plastic corset. I was 17. My mom was not very happy about it. It was not vulgar, it was kind of a fifties style, but I got in trouble because of that expense. She actually liked the look, she was just thinking that it was crazy.
What trends do you like now?
I love the fact that there are a lot of colors. I love colors. And it’s usually difficult to have so many bright colors and bold colors as a trend. I bought a lot of Prada — I love the stripes, for instance. I love the bananas and the monkeys, which are kind of funny but not in a cheesy way. And I also love the white — Dolce & Gabbana did a lot of white, which I love and I think you can always wear.
The flatform shoes from that Prada show are in high demand. What do you think of them?
To be honest, they don’t look good on me. They were super genius for the show but not for me. I don’t like platforms in the front — those very aggressive shoes. I like masculine shoes now, like a loafer with a very short skirt. Oxfords, too.
What trends are you tired of?
The eighties short, tight, loud minidresses — but that’s already gone, I think. That will be a problem because now what are you going to wear in the evening? I like sparkle, too, because in the end you want to sparkle but in a new way. Not in a loud aggressive way, like the eighties. We need some glamour again that’s a bit exciting. I’m not saying this isn’t exciting, but if I see another minimalist show I’m like okay, I’m done. Give me some good glam, some new glamour.
Where do you like to shop in New York?
Barneys is just around the corner, unfortunately — once I needed a pair of tights and it’s the closet thing to my house, so I go in and buy two pairs of shoes and I forget to buy the tights! I like the vintage stores, too, but the one store that has a lot of things that I really like is Opening Ceremony. I just bought an amazing dress, a collaboration between Opening Ceremony and Deyrolle, which is a store in Paris that I love. It’s long, kind of Sixties-ish with a very round neck, long sleeves, straight down to the feet in jersey, and it’s got a fox print. I was so excited. You can just be comfortable but kind of eccentric, no?