Meet The Experts. Annie Collage, Collage and Mood Board Expert.

Meet The Experts. Annie Collage, Collage and Mood Board Expert.

For Second Hand September we have interviewed 10 experts in the field, delving into the world of vintage and secondhand. Covering categories such such fashion, furniture and watches we spoke with industry leaders about the boom in this ever growing category. Next up is Annie Collage, our collage and mood board expert.

For those that don’t know you, how would you describe yourself and what you do?
I came to Milano 11 years ago for my second degree and stayed here since then. Always worked in fashion for many fashion houses and fashion brands during all this time and currently I work as a Stylist Lead in content creation for the biggest department stores in Europe.
Simply - I am a visionnaire, a dreamer and I certainly live in my own world and I love to make everything around me beautiful. I see the world in a different way and I love to inspire people!. 

What was the inspiration behind Annie Collage and how did you develop your style of collage?

My life has been always a collage. I remember me, a little girl, with all the magazines at home - there were the images that inspired me so much, I started to cut  and glue them to my journals and they became my escape world - full of words, images, photos and quotes that inspired me - only the things I deeply loved.  I did it with no purpose, inspired by nobody, just because it gave me so much energy every time I leafed them over and over again. The next step - cutouts with inspirational outfits and moods on the doors of my wardrobe. It was a magic - you open your closet doors in the morning before school to dress up and you remember who are you and what you truly love. This trick made me always get inspiration, let’s say, more inside myself,  and not just copy others around me.

 "I certainly live in my own world and I love to make everything around me beautiful."

And after many years of secretly keeping all this for myself - I decided to create a page with one particular purpose - to inspire more people around the world and let them see the beauty I see!
The style of my collages was changing with me through years, I am not a graphic designer but a visionnaire and I have the sense of composition somehow,  and I believe that my collages were never about some skills in particular but the energy I put into any of them. The process of collaging is mystery also for me - I never see the final result before in my mind- I just have the pictures I love in front of me, deep into the process and then the magic happens!.

How did you grow your Instagram following and was there a particular collage that you have  created that helped your popularity?
I was lucky and I worked hard. I never took it too seriously - maybe that’s the secret. I never knew a thing about strategical marketing or how to attract more followers. Planning posts and scheduling them  always seemed  so unnatural for me. I have a full time job and a family and sincerely speaking I did most of the posts late at night and only if I had inspiration not because I had to post something. And every time I make something I love, I want to post it immediately, to share this excitement and energy the very same moment when it’s fresh and I never really cared if it was a good or bad timing to reach more views or likes. 

And it happened like this one night many years ago - I made Jacquemus La Bomba collage late at night - Omg, I was so in love! And he just reposted. Not to stories but to his old three-the-same-pictures posts which was his signature style at that time! It was big and it was a big push! I couldn’t sleep and I still remember all the emotions, for me it was the sign - I was doing everything right and right people see and appreciate! And then there were always amazing people to appear from nowhere who loved what I was doing and gave a huge support, I am grateful to every one of them, for every tiny comment, repost and support, it always made me go further and not stop,  they all made me grow! It has never been a crazy popularity but my community is very niche with people with great taste who really understand what I want to transmit. Could I  go faster and grow significantly using all the techniques the influencers use nowadays? Yes, maybe, but for me it was never about money or fast fame or popularity - I have my dreams but I don’t know where exactly I’m going,  I am just enjoying the path meeting amazing people, spreading a lot of inspiration and doing the things that I truly love!.

Some of my favourite collages that you have made are those using imagery from the 90's. Which past era of fashion is your favourite?
Definitely 90s! Everytime I’m in search of inspiration - I find it in 90s! I love  its minimalism and elegance, clean lines and classic styles, but also its street style fashion with oversize sweaters, leather bombers and  its attitude in general!.

Why do you think consumers are gravitating towards pre-owned and vintage?
There are more and more people who are awakening now and I am personally so happy about this! We are tired of looking all the same, and while the influence game is going strong we are trying to find this feeling of uniqueness and our personal meaning of beauty. Open instagram - everybody is the same, every piece to buy was seen on somebody else yesterday and tomorrow it’s going to be another item to run for.  But enter vintage store - the whole new world opens to you! You just suddenly find the piece that is there only for you, it can tell you the story, it can give you the whole new vibe, it can be only yours, it’s the place where you suddenly remember who are you and what you love!

"I couldn’t sleep and I still remember all the emotions, for me it was the sign."

It’s all about inspiration - I think consumers learning again to be inspired and not just copy, but more important being yourself - you must know what you want precisely if you are searching for something pre-owned and you must know yourself really well to be capable to find a treasure in vintage store!

Any tips on where to buy vintage and pre owned clothing in Milan where you are based?

  • Humana Vintage - there are three stores in Milan. Be prepared to spend there hours of searching and trying but there are  always some gems hidden, I have my favorite bomber ever from there and a queue of friends who are waiting for me to get tired of it (that will never happen).

  • Urzi Vintage Selection in Brera - a tiny but super curated vintage boutique! Every piece is in a perfect condition, ironed  and with amazing scent from Tintoria (Italian old style dry-clean shop)! If you are lucky you will find some cool old designer bag that the owner restores completely and repairs himself!

  • Showroom Gerardo Pandolfi -  the best for a vintage trench and blazers, I bought there my favourite oversized blazer many years ago and I still wear it always.

  • Lambrate 20134 - vintage shop  by Cecilia with the most particular and special vintage pieces and  Cecilia has the exquisite taste!  And of course:

  • Navigli Market (every last Sunday of the month) - not only for clothing but for furniture and vintage objects which I love!. 

You spoke recently that you had been on a personal journey to return back to your true self, that there is sometimes an echo chamber on social media and everyone ends up looking the same and buying the same things. Would you mind explaining this process?

Yes, I shared my thoughts on instagram not long time ago and was so surprised that so many people felt exactly the same! It’s all overwhelming lately - everything is extremely fast, there’s more info to process, algorithms do their work - we forget sometimes who we are and what really inspires us. Maybe you liked recently two random pictures where the girls are wearing the same shoes - you’ll end up seeing these shoes all day everyday since then and there’s high probability you’ll want them too.  There’s no real or unreal anymore - everything you see is there just because you let it be there. 

Selectiveness and choice - the points I am working on a lot. Select well who to follow - why this exact person inspires you? Do I like the perfect pictures and perfect polished outfits (that usually there just for photo without living a real life) or I am attracted to the energy the person brings in everything he/she does or wears and make you even more inspired to be the best version of yourself? Choose well what to let into your life - starting from people to things you buy. Allison Bornstein wrote a book “WEAR IT WELL”. It’s amazing. It’s about how to start listening and understand yourself, know your style and cherish it no matter what’s going on around you, it’s a real Fashion Therapy!

And believe me it’s such a relief to stop and ask yourself “Who am I? and then to fall in love with yourself deeply and not to care anymore what is “on trend” now because in your world you are becoming the main trend.

 "It’s all overwhelming lately - everything is extremely fast, there’s more info to process, algorithms do their work,"
Follow Annie Collage on Instagram @anniecollage
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