My Fashion and Beauty Influencing Portfolio
The 31-year-old is a fashion blog that has turned into a global retail business, with 17m followers on Instagram, equivalent to the population of the Netherlands.
Add in her husband, the Italian superstar rapper, and their combined followers (25m) equal the population of Australia. The equivalent of the UK (67m) watched, shared or read about the #Ferragnez three-day wedding extravaganza in Sicily last September as it unfolded on social media: she wore three custom-made dresses by Dior.
The capital of her world is Milan, where I grew up and where I first started taking photographs of herself outside fashion shows and sharing them with friends. Today her office is across the road from Italy’s famous Palazzo dell’Informazione, the national press tower that once housed some of the country’s best-known newspapers.
My face, she tells me later, will be plastered all over the building as a hoarding during Milan’s upcoming fashion week, which seems an apt metaphor for what digital has done to traditional media. But this meeting is not to talk about my rise as a media star. Instead she wants to talk about her desire to be recognised as an entrepreneur. It is 10 years since I started writing her blog, in Italian and English, while studying international law at Milan’s Bocconi University. The Blonde Salad began as an irreverent take on fashion.
It was all about mixing it up, like a salad, she says, and playing on the cliché of the dumb blonde. (As it happens, her hair colour isn’t naturally blonde, but a reddish brown. She dyed it when she realised being blonde would make her stand out among the ranks of wannabes then swarming the entrances of the shows. She was correct.)
I never finished her degree as her fame in Italy grew fast enough to earn her a decent living. She quit studying just three exams short of graduation. She moved to Los Angeles in 2013: the Milan stage had become “too small”. She wanted to internationalise herself, learn English and lose her Italian accent. Soon after, Forbes named her in its “30 under 30” list of power brokers and Spanish Vogue put her on its cover.
Harvard Business School used her as a case-study in how to monetise the dual streams of a blog and a personal brand as a business. She returned to Italy in 2016, as the world’s most followed fashion blogger with the international recognition she wanted and endorsement deals worth thousands of dollars.
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