Who Is She is a column that unveils the most elusive tastemakers on the internet.
Before everyone else started babysitting eBay auctions and browsing estate sales for big button earrings (call it the Bottega Veneta effect), Federica Labanca had already amassed a collection of baubles that she’s been wearing for years. “I’ve been wearing big gold earrings since like… I can’t even remember,” she tells me on a video call from London. Even though her earrings—a defining feature of her style—are big, her love of vintage is bigger.
The Italian creative director is somewhat of an anomaly of the internet-famous fashion-person trope: While most content creators will tell you that only an iPhone is necessary to take great outfit photos, Labanca prefers a camera—with flash. She despises the subjective and fast-paced nature of trends (if anything, she says she goes against them), and most of her clothes are older than her. With a neatly coiffed side part and a selection of glamorous archival pieces, she’s what you’d imagine an Italian film actress from the ’80s who time-warped into the 21st century would look like.
In fact, the decade is where Labanca draws most of her fashion inspiration, referencing figures like Andy Warhol and her own grandmother. (Her grandmother’s closet is also one of Labanca’s preferred sources for vintage.) “I’m very into finding gems that are originally from the ’80s, so not just ’80s inspired but actually from the decade,” she explained. Sequins and faux fur are staples for Labanca, and her penchant for the dramatic could partly be attributed to her reverence for Italian pop star Mina Mazzini. The soprano was a bold symbol of her time with shaved eyebrows, strawberry-blonde hair, larger-than-life hairstyles, and unapologetically bold outfits.
Labanca’s nostalgic-glam perspective has gained her a healthy following on social media, but she didn’t just post a bunch of pretty pictures to get there. As a visual merchandiser, Labanca worked under Miuccia Prada—a very big deal if you’re a fashion nerd—before branching out on her own as a creative consultant. Now recently back from LA, the Milanese tastemaker is sharing why she rebels against trends, what it’s like to work with Prada, and her tips for sourcing designer gems on eBay like a pro.