Anna Anni: Good Morning Teacher!

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Sketch Anna Anni, private collection

“The Duchess” by Beatrice Brandini 

In high school I had the good fortune to have a great teacher, rigorous, capable, creative, authoritative, reserved, and above all generous, the generosity of those who excel in their field or profession and not did they make a boast but rather share it and gives it to others: this “teacher” (from the Latin magister = master, union of magis = large + the comparative suffix – ter, therefore etymologically “the largest) was called Anna Anni and she was a costume designer famous all over the world. 

“The night I went to Rome on the set, the next day I was at my teaching post”. Anna Anni

I want to remember she for love, but above all to bring those who do not yet know, the younger, , this great creative figure who has, through its customs, characterized the last century, making magnificent costumes for films and theatrical performances.

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Anna Anni watercolor, private collection 

Anna Anni began in 1953 by creating the costumes for two works, the Volpone and Locandiera, both directed by Orson Welles. She dressed Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Carla Fracci, Anna Magnani, Valentina Cortese, Rossella Falk, Rudolf Nureyev, and many others.

Out of love for her land, for her craftsmen, Anna said no to Orson Welles’ proposal to move to America. It was in fact with this great director that she had made her debut designing the costumes for two plays staged in Chicago. 

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Anna Anni watercolor, private collection 

Crucial was the meeting with Franco Zeffirelli with whom she worked for more than sixty years, the onset training at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence to Rome. The meeting and the association of these two genes of the theater is inseparable from the House of Art Cerratelli, famous tailoring where both realized their first professional experience, from a tailor’s shop in Via della Pergola to theaters around the world.

Zeffirelli remembered her like this: “Anna was gifted with great talent, perhaps more than all of us, but she was shy, modest.The knowledge of the historical cut and the meticulous research of the detail made her extraordinary costumes, emblems of precious historical evocations. moved to see the costumes he had designed for Maria Stuarda with the two primedonne Valentina Cortese Rossella Falk and for an unforgettable Carmen at the Verona Arena.  But all of her things were beautiful and they triumphed in the most prestigious theaters of the world ».

Sketch Anna Anni, private collection 

The House Of Art Cerratelli was born in 1916 at the behest of the baritone Arturo Cerratelli that he decided to collect his costumes. But it was in the thirties, who became an important couture, specializing in period costumes for film and theater. Also collaborated with artists such as tailoring Felice Casorati, Salvador Dali, Pietro Cascella, Primo Conti, Renato Guttuso, Mino Maccari, Piero Tosi.

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Anna Anni: costume for Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1983, played by Rossella Falk 

In 1987, together with Maurizio Millenotti was nominated for an Oscar for best costumes for Zeffirelli’s Otello.

“My little Anna was a rare talent …. it was the best costume I’ve ever seen.” Franco Zeffirelli

Her stroke was delicate, but she was able to sketch a beautiful dress in a few seconds, and then come alive in the capable Italian theatrical tailors, so rich in details and precious historical evocations that it became a masterpiece. 

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Anna Anni: costume for Othello, in 1986, played by  Katia Ricciarelli

I would have some anecdotes to mention, but in respecting her shyness and reluctance to chatter, I will not dwell on this aspect. I just want to say that in addition to the undisputed talent, she was a rigorous teacher; more than once she “scolded” me for my inconstant commitment and for not valorizing a talent and passion, which evidently she had glimpsed in me. Her words have come back to my mind many times, “when I grow up”, which is why when I had the opportunity to pass on something, to a collaborator, to a team, or even here on this blog, I always say that only  commitment, work and dedication are aspects that make the difference. Whatever you have chosen to do, not necessarily in an artistic environment, do it with passion, the result will come.


Sketches by Anna Anni

I remember she as being “outside world”, the daughter of another era, one in which education, culture, sense of responsibility still had value and were key features for a more just world. I had an excellent relationship with the teacher Anna Anni, it was impossible not to have it; I have some of her sketches that I keep as memorabilia (together with those of Gruau), which she gave me to remind me of the proportions of the human body and the fashion figure. Again synonymous with great generosity and trust.

Still Zeffirelli said: “In a spiteful planet inhabited by people always ready to want to look better than it is, she stood taller than anyone, even if it was necessary – and almost never succeeded – to get her out of her swamp of humility and modesty. that sometimes, I confess, it seemed to me even unbearable: as soon as it was said good she immediately shook her head and scoffed with embarrassment “.

“I’ve always been behind the scenes, I’ve never wanted to steal space from the directors I’ve worked on for the rest of my life I’ve taught drawing at the Tornabuoni school”.  Anna Anni


Anna Anni while receiving the Award of Excellence in 2007 of the Italian Academia

All those who have had the chance to meet her, collaborate with her or, like me, draw from her important and valuable lessons have been lucky. Thanks Anna Anni for giving us emotions through your work, your class and your commitment! I certainly will never forget you.



Sketches through some decades of the twentieth century, by Beatrice Brandini

I wanted to thank you for what you taught me and transmitted culturally and humanly, I feel privileged, if I have been able to work and love fashion, the merit is above all yours. Thank you because you always believed in me making me feel less uncomfortable with my shy nature. As often happens, I should have given thanks when you were still alive, we always remember these things when it is too late (I have not been outdone, I regret it bitterly), so I imagined a day when, at school, as usual, in the morning I saw you again and greeted politely, before the beginning of the lesson: “Good morning Professor!” Although I was a small and insecure girl, I understood more than the others what you were made of, even if I have never been able to prove it to you. Women like you are very rare, never intrusive, with an uncommon humility, despite the skill and intelligence you were gifted with; I can only say to today’s students that I hope to have a teacher like this, I have been kissed by luck and the more time passes and the more I am aware of it, you have made the lives of others better. Thanks again little big Anna I will always be grateful to you!


Good life to all!



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