Chiara Ferragni: Star Blogger

by Sasha Levine

Chiara Ferragni: Star Blogger. Cover story written for Published on September 17, 2012.

Five-foot-eight, blonde, and slender, 25-year-old Italian-born Chiara Ferragni stands atop her pedestal in Milan’s Palazzo Clerici. Among gilded mirrors, ceiling frescoes, and other 18th century decor, Ferragni is as regal as any marble statue at the Galleria Borghese. Dressed head to toe in a dark Gucci evening gown and surrounded by her some of favorite things, Ferragni is not a silent beauty—she is a thoroughly modern tastemaker.

“The most powerful thing about being a blogger, I think, is that you are completely free,” says Ferragni about her wildly popular fashion blog, The Blonde Salad. “People can see whatever I see and experience whatever I experience.”

Ferragni launched The Blonde Salad in October 2009 after garnering attention from the pictures she uploaded of herself on Flickr. “I thought, I have to create my own online space where people can come and talk with me about fashion,” she said. The blog quickly gathered praise from the likes of Bloglovin’ and New York magazine, who in 2011 called Ferragni, “one of the biggest breakout street-style stars of the year.”

The fashion world has also taken notice. Ferragni has walked the runway for Alberta Ferretti, collaborated with Louis Vuitton and Ermenegildo Zegna, and hosted events with Dior and Vogue since 2010.

But rather than get behind the camera, as many street style and fashion bloggers do, Ferragni puts herself squarely in the picture. She’s the subject of her posts and documents her style and personal life online with the help of her boyfriend, Riccardo Pozzoli. For Ferragni, it’s about expressing herself through her own style—and not the looks she admires on others.

Now, around 750,000 people flock to her site monthly to get a taste of Ferragni’s well-heeled fashion sense and jet-set lifestyle. Whether she’s hopping on streetcars in San Francisco, hitting the beach in Thailand, or turning the Barcelona airport into her runway, dressing the best is Ferragni’s business.

“It really depends on which way I wake up in the morning,” she says of choosing her daily ensembles. And, as the vast selection of her portraits demonstrates, she has no qualms dressing as a doyenne one day and a rocker the next. She also loves to mix the high and low, combining designer brands like Hermès with more inexpensive items from Zara. “That’s something that my followers really like because they can relate to it,” she explains.

Thirty percent of her readers are based in Italy, mainly from Milan and Rome, and the remaining come from the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Brazil, and Tokyo. Ferragni writes her daily dispatches in English with an Italian translation below.

Pozzoli knows why readers keep coming back for more. I think that the secret is precisely Chiara, and her natural way of showing herself as she is without artifice,” Pozzoli says. “[She manages her blog] with a very strong commitment,” he adds, “treating her website a bit like a diary, and a bit like a magazine.”

And though Ferragni stays busy attending Fashion Week internationally, modeling for Elle, collaborating with labels like Mango for capsule collections, or designing her own shoe line, she likes nothing more than to sit down and enjoy a good Italian meal. “Dinner at a restaurant, especially in the summer outside in beautiful squares, is the best thing about living in Italy,” she says, citing Cantina Della Vetra, a historical enoteca that serves traditional Italian cuisine, as one of her favorites. Knowing the kind of glamorous life she leads, we’ll take her word for it.

Weeks later, we chat in New York at the Lifestyle Mirror offices and Ferragni is far from the stoic doyenne she plays at the photo shoot. Instead, she’s the young woman we know from the blog: smiling, inviting, and accessible, with hardly a minute to spare between one Fashion Week show or another. After the meeting, I pull up The Blonde Salad, and browse her recent posts. There she is, dressed as I had just seen her, on her way to the next adventure.