May 05, 2012

Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani Talks Fashion

Yesterday I met the creative force behind one of the greatest versions of the Vogue magazines in the world - Vogue Italia. I've met Franca Sozzani, the Editor-in-Chief, who has been with Vogue Italia since 1988 and who came to the Museum at FIT to share her wisdom - [you should have seen the line of people, some of which really looked like serious fashionistas, to the auditorium to meet with Sozzani! Good thing I've booked it way in advance!]

To say that this woman is brilliant is an understatement, she is beyond the visionary. She is also hilarious and is not afraid to push the envelope. Her bold statements in regards to how the fashion industry works and what goes into the production of one of the most prestigious fashion magazines in the world once again proved, why she's been considered one of the most controversial editors in the history of Vogue. She shared with us the things that most of the fashion industry players are afraid to say out-loud.

She was the first editor EVER to publish an all black issue of Vogue, for which she was criticized in many countries and sold not a single issue in Italy, but the issue that went off the shelves in no time in UK and USA. And now V Black - a blog dedicated to all black is gracing the website of the magazine.

The black issue of Vogue Italia that was sold out in UK and USA, but not in Italy...One of the many risks Sozzani took on and does not regret.
She was the first editor who brought the issue of anorexia and bulimia into the attention and even started an online campaign-blog on Vogue Italia site to petition to stop the unhealthy habits of the women in the world.

She was the first one to take all the social/digital media had to offer and implement it all on the website, arguing that even though they get no 'financial' value from the social media they use, they get something of greater value than money - they get the global audience to respond and want to be a part of Vogue Italia community!

She was the first one who published a 'curvy' issue of the magazine, where she broke the definition of the 'beauty' down to simply stating that curvy is as beautiful as skinny and that women should feel beautiful at any weight. She then started a whole blog dedicated to curvy - V Curvy, which became a hit within the global high fashion community.

Sozzani spoke with such an easy manner, being open to all sorts of questions thrown at her - from racism to environmental, that it was impossible to not fall in love with her. 

Here's some of the points I personally took from this 2-hour presentation in regards to what should go into producing and managing a fashion magazine:

  • Give readers more than fashion (a fashion magazine is not necessary meant to be all about fashion)
  • Take risks (Sozzani pointed out to a few real life cases where she took risks and which either resulted in great success or failure; she was open about her failures, but at the same time - she said that whoever is not risking is not being innovative and creative - and I totally agree with her!)
  • Think environment and ecology
  • Commit to the readers
  • Think in great depths of what kind of a message you want to give your readers with a fashion photo/image you print?
  • Fashion models should be skinny, but skinny in healthy proportions - advocate for the health of the modeling industry
  • Always support young talents - give them platforms to express themselves (one of the things I really loved about Sozzani's vision of the fashion is that the fashion industry needs to support the young talents - Sozzani was one of the very first editors in the world to create multiple platforms for the young talents to be a part of high fashion at Vogue Italia. She created various blogs, where aspiring fashion photographers, stylists and reporters can upload and share with the Vogue Italia's audience their creations. Isn't it one of the greatest visibilities a young talent could ever get? You betcha!) She dedicated the whole section of the website to the young talent uploads - V Talents
  • She is the ONLY editor in the history of Vogue that actually not only has her own blog  - The Editor's Blog - as part of the website, but she actually updates it on a regular basis and responds to the comments! [Only if Mrs. Wintour took a note!]
  • And if you think she only does a one-hundred-page-something fashion magazine every month and a blog every day, you'd be surprised to find out that she also tweets! [At this point, I can just confess that fact that I admired her work before, but after meeting her - I'm in a complete state of a professional love with her!]
I actually managed to record the very first part of the presentation, which, in my opinion, speaks for the whole 2-hour presentation. It's the moment where Sozzani said what it takes to make a fashion magazine.

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