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Remembering Franca Sozzani

Retrace her story

Remembering Franca Sozzani Retrace her story

Franca Sozzani has died. She left on tiptoe, after a years of illness, leaving behind her, as Jonathan Newhouse, Chairman and Chief Executive of Condè Nast, said announcing the news: “an incalculable loss to the world of fashion". From Mantova, she was born 66 years ago from an upper class family and her future seemed already sealed and she intended to become a wealthy slacker.

Then life has chosen otherwise. Thanks to her intelligence, passion, stubbornness, from the pages of Vogue Italy with her unconventional positions and the ability to amaze with high impact photographic covers and editorials, she has come to reverse the history of costume, inventing a new way of telling the fashion and society, through the images.

London calling

Graduate at Milan Cattolica in Literature with a Germanic Philology thesis (even if she wanted to study physics) at age 22 marries and divorce three months after, pregnant with her son Francesco. Goes to India, then in the end of the sixties to London and here she changes completely. At that time Italy was a very for the dress code and she remembers: “When I went to London, I found a totally new world, and it changed me completely: not only my approach to clothes but even my way of living. We were breathing a completely antiestablishment kind of air. Maybe in my head I never came back. In London you really smelled the freedom, it changed my way of thinking completely”. Franca realizes that it's time to make something good of her life and decides to find work. She responds to a job offer and works at Vogue Bambini as "assistant to the assistant to the assistant".

Recalling that period tells ironic: "I decided I wanted to work and do the stylist and I immediately took everything seriously. Oliviero Toscani always said that I was a moron pincushion dressed Saint Laurent. Then, when she was thirty years old, switches to a new magazine Lei (Italian version of Glamour) and then to their male counterparts Per Lui. Here starts to grip tightens contacts with Oliviero Toscani, Mario Testino, Paolo Roversi, Herb Ritts, Peter Lindbergh, Bruce Weber and Steven Meisel, all young talents attracted to Sozzani's passion, to her creative vision and the freedom she left them.

The new style

In 1988 Franca is appointed Editor in Chief of Vogue Italy and it is immediately clear is about to start a revolution. The first cover, photographed by Meisel, marks a clear change of direction than in previous years: the sepia image of model Robin MacKintosh wearing a white Ferrè shirt and the title "The New Style". This shot is not only the symbol of a new, independent and unconventional creative path for the magazine, but also that of a human and business relationship with American photographer that has continued for more than twenty years, his are in fact almost all of the cover Italian Vogue, as always has his eye behind the camera of the most discussed editorials in recent years, meanwhile launching together with Franca the careers of all the supermodels of the '90s.


She invented Instagram 25 years ago

Why not use fashion to communicate? That's what asks Franca Sozzani. Theoretically Vogue would be only "glossy", a newspaper with beautiful coats and beautiful skirts, instead she uses it to send messages, to support campaigns. And this will always be remembered, for positions often counter in the industry and her ability to impress with high impact covers and photo shoots. At the risk of being fired several times by Condè Nast, is sensitive subjects like plastic surgery, taboo of "curvy" women, domestic violence, the environment, racism in the fashion world.

“It's not about provocation at all, I’m conscious that all the time I take risks, I am very conscious about that, I have a lot of conscience about that. It's not that I don't care, it's because I think that fashion is such a good medium, that if you use fashion in the right way, you can talk to everybody. I joke that I invented Instagram 25 years ago, as I was only talking through images... because who speaks Italian Nobody. So images are the only way in which you can talk to everybody. For me, they were my tool. And I think that fashion is not only about dresses, but about culture, it's about where you live, it's about social movement, it's about economical movement, it's about racism, it's about everything”.

The Black Issue

In July 2008 Vogue Italia edits an issue featuring only black models, featuring editorials and articles that denounce racism, even in the fashion world. The answer to the question "How come there are millions of models coming from a country like Ukraine, but there are no models coming from the entire continent of Africa?" becomes  Sozzani's greatest triumph.

That magazine's number is re-printed three times, is the bestselling edition and made its mark on fashion history.

Franca: Chaos and Creation

This year, in September, at the 73rd Venice Film FestivalFrancesco Carrozzini presents the documentary "Franca: Chaos and Creation" which tells the story of the director of Vogue Italy, his mother. In the black and white scenes, shot with an 8 mm, interspersed with interviews with Karl Lagerfeld, Bruce Weber, Baz Luhrmann, Courtney Love and many others emerge pieces of Sozzani life, her work, the relationship with her son.

She elegant, iconic with slim physique, long blond hair, Pre-Raphaelite look, jealous of her privacy, gives fragments of herself: the bourgeois family, the good schools, beach holidays, the love she has for Saint Laurent allowed women to dress like a man, the strong impact of London in her life. In her words there is the loving and atypical mother who goes to get to school Francesco accompanied by Naomi Campbell, the icy editorial director of Condè Nast Italy, the rebel that made famous many emerging designers with "Who's on Next", she has enhanced many prominent names of Italian fashion, but also is the global ambassador against hunger for the United Nations World Food Program and the person who has supported AIDS researches or IEO (foundation created by Umberto Veronesi to finance European Institute of Oncology experimental research).

“I’m very stubborn when I have ideas. When pursuing them I prefer to make my own mistakes. I don't feel like a rebel. I feel that I have a vision and I want to go on with my vision and it is my work, this is my magazine so they give me the freedom to do it. I've been the Editor in Chief for Vogue Italia for 25 years. I never thought I would do this job for so long, but sometimes this is the life. Of course I am a winner. I'm sure of this. Not because I'm full of myself, but because I scored with all my ideas”.