she is the most intriguing editor and I love her for making my favourite magazine in the world
the blue eyes ....the classical golden flowing hair........the twin thing which is spookily fantastic
On karl lagerfeld winter 2007
once again mentioning her love of flat shoes love her humour
Last edited by sethii; 22-06-2007 at 07:32 PM.
Franca has been at the forefront of Fashion since the beginning of her career. She was already directing legendary publications LEI since 1980 and PER LUI since 1982 before heading up the Italian edition of VOGUE starting in 1988. She was finally appointed Editor in Chief of Condé Nast Italia in 1994.
She is founding member of CHILD PRIORITY – a non profit organization created by Condé Nast to offer concrete study and work opportunities for those who have none, despite being talented and artistically gifted.
Franca is the author of several books about photography, fashion, art and design, including: 30 Years of Italian Vogue (1994), Visitors (20 Museums for the Florence Biennale of Fashion and Art; 1996), A Noir (an exploration of the colour Black between fashion and art, published by Assouline, 1998), Style in Progress (30 years of L’Uomo Vogue, 1998), Valentino’s Red Book (2000) and Artists At Work (an itinerary among the most important British artists of the time, published by Assouline, 2003).
She also curated several exhibits and retrospectives, including: 30 Years of Italian Vogue, Visitors (Florentine Biennale) Mario Testino, Bruce Weber (Vietnam Story and My Own Story in Vogue), Peter Lindbergh (Women), Francesco Scavullo and Portraits of Elegance (Milan Triennale).
She collaborated with artist Maurizio Cattelan and repetitively with Vanessa Beecroft and was awarded several prizes for her contribution to art and culture including: La Lupa (from the City of Rome, for rending Italian fashion known throughout the world), Il Premiolino (the most important journalistic prize in Italy), L’Ambrogino d’oro (for making the city of Milan more cosmopolitan and famous around the world) and the Montblanc de La Culture (Art Patronage Award 2007).
Vogue Italia editor-in-chief, and April Featured Iqon, Franca Sozzani recently had a conversation with IQONS co-founder Rafael Jimenez and contributor Barbara Grispini. Read on to learn about her thoughts on new fashion talent, Vogue Italia, the difference in appealing to men and women, and how the internet and traditional fashion media co-exist.
RJ: Hello Franca. Thank you so much for joining us as our featured Iqon and for taking the time for this conversation.
ABOUT WHO IS ON NEXT
RJ: Can you please tell us more about the competition Who Is On Next?
FS: We are currently receiving applications until mid-April. The selected candidates will do a fashion show in July in Rome during ALTAROMA Fashion Week, who believed in us from the beginning. Then, the three winners will have a show to present their collections in Milan during Fashion Week.
BG: The runway show is part of the prize; it’s sponsored. Is their collection also manufactured too, as part of the prize? Or do you find manufacturers for them?
FS: We put them in touch with the people, but usually these emerging designers already have their own small productions. Moreover, we try to put them in touch with buyers. For example, the brand 6267 had 12 shops that carried them when we met them, now they are available in 180 stores.
BG: Wow, that’s a big difference…
FS: Those were the indicators: that after 3 seasons their businesses had grown so much. They were on style.com; they got in touch with all the buyers from the US, UK, and Europe. Many stockists were very interested.
RJ: So, can you participate in the Who Is On Next competition if you are not Italian?
FS: If you are not Italian, in order to participate, you need to live and produce in Italy.
BG: But, if you are Italian and live abroad?
FS: If you are Italian citizen, you can be anywhere.
RJ: If candidates are foreign and want to move to Italy, do they have to do it before, after or during?
FS: During the competition. Foreigners should at least live in Italy in order to invigorate the concept of Made in Italy. It’s not age that interests us; it is the new name, the person that creates a new line. It doesn’t matter if they are 20 or 40 years old or whatever. The important thing is that they have a concept. There are people that are very talented that haven’t been able to find the money, that haven’t been able to create their own line and so they have always remained behind the scenes. It’s not an age issue. Setting up your own production today takes a lot of money.
BG: I see it a lot with the designers in London, they have a hard time. Especially after their 3rd show, when they are no longer considered “New Generation” - they close up shop.
RJ: It’s typical, you start and when you manage to generate a lot of sales you have a cash flow problem.
FS: And we need these talents. Because a lot of these people can be talented but can’t self-finance. So, we give them the prizes. €30,000 each. It’s not that much… but in the meantime we give them exposure with the press and especially with buyers.
BG: That is such an important thing…
RJ: And, being here in Italy, finding production should not be difficult.
Supporting Young Talent
BG: Do you also do initiatives with younger people, say those coming out of school?
FS: Yes, we also do another thing for young designers with the European Institute. They have a number of programs, one in each city: Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Milan and Turin. Now they are opening one in Brazil. Instead of having work from all of the students in a show at the end of the year – where you don’t understand who is showing what – each school chooses the top 20 or 10 of the best finalists. From this, another selection is made and each school proposes 5 or 6. We do the last selection in Milan where the final 3 are chosen. Last year there was one who was very talented but it couldn’t be produced because it was basically haute couture. But, we find the companies that can produce their small collection. There are 12 looks, no more. But, those 12 looks are produced by, for example, Marzotto who produces Valentino, Burani who produces others, AEFFE that produces Gautier and Moschino. So, clearly, these are companies that have a certain cost. Even just making the 12 looks can easily cost €70,000.
BG: It is a great chance of counting with these resources.
FS: Yes, at least it helps them get exposure. For example, last year all of those that made it to the finals found work. One went to Burani, one here, one there and they all found a place. They are students that took a step… also because they received confirmation and were hired. So even after having worked for 2 years somewhere, they start making themselves known, and then they go from one to another… we know the cycle well.
BG: Also because, of course when they are just out of school, they can’t have the know-how and a day-to-day concept of production etc.
FS: When they face the industry, sometimes they don’t understand why they can’t cut in one way or another, because they have always done everything by hand. The industry has rules. There was one kid that wanted to have 20 layers of chiffon - how do you pull together 20 layers of chiffon? If you are doing haute couture, like Dior, you can do it. Otherwise, no.
RJ: It is so important to be familiar with houses where there is a system of production.
FS: The first work I do is on the students, but it’s work that we can then send on to the various designers. The second job, instead, is for the young designers in “Who is on Next”, that already have a little production that can be taken, bought and continued. We create contacts with the companies where they can do consulting. Because by doing their consulting they can also manage their own line. 6267 or Albino can also count with their consulting job.
Vogue Italia, Fashion and Media.
RJ: How long have you been at Vogue Italia?
FS: Since July ’88. It’s been 19 years.
BG: Did you start at both Vogue Italia and l’Uomo Vogue from the beginning?
FS: I started with Vogue. L’Uomo is only recent.
BG: They are such very different things, how do you see them?
FS: I’ve been at L’Uomo as managing editor since ’94. I really took it on and revamped it, coming out with a specific concept. I wanted to reach a broader audience than the fashion community. Because men don’t function in the same way women do. Women look at an image and dream. Men want to read, understand, they want a new style. So, I eliminated the models. I didn’t use models anymore. I didn’t want people that weren’t real, that didn’t do something. Then it becomes transversal. I go from the new New York band to the 70 year olds.
RJ: Men look at a product and then want to get some cultural information, news, etc.
BG: Men see a person of their own age, from their group, and say to themselves, “See, even at your age you can be cool”.
FS: For example, we wrote about Alec Guinness who is more than 70 years old and has done so many things, he restructured buildings and gave them back to the government… because they like hearing about people with a long history. Then there’s the new band, the kid, whose history is only 6 months long. But they interact, because people don’t have to read from the point of view of an old person or a young person. You have to mix it up. Today there it isn’t a question of age. People are more concerned with what you do.
RJ: In your opinion, how would you define the current direction of women, of Vogue Italia and also of fashion in general?
FS: Given that over the past few years anything would go, anyone could sew together a few rags and it became fashion. Also because the system changed. Since the beginning of big distributions like Zara, H&M, Topshop…etc., the situation has changed. You are not making fashion; you are making an industry that runs on the concept of fashion. You are not creating; you are industrializing the ideas of others. It is a completely different method of approaching the consumer. Before, you would reach them because they dreamed of something extraordinary and they wanted exactly that dress. Today you understand that you can have anything at a competitive price.
RJ: It’s a little bit like when Prêt-à-Porter came out in contrast to the Haute Couture.
FS: A little. It’s like the difference between the first and second line of a designer.
RJ: That already existed in the 90’s…
FS: And that still exists, in a certain sense. The thing is that things must turn back to creativity, to research. Because having gotten used to all this commercial stuff, selling what the public wants, everything is the same.
RJ: There was this very interesting article in WWD by Cate Corcoran, which described fashion as currently living the most media-powered moment in its history. Wouldn’t it be a way out? For a lot of people, the way out of this system is through media.
FS: Actually, we tell the kids at the moment in Who is on Next to send us a video for example, as if they were doing an interview, because today you cannot be isolated. Today you are the media. There is nothing you can do about it. You have to communicate with people. It would be nice to keep the communication and rediscover the creativity. But, this is rare. Sometimes we make icons out of people who aren’t even creative but who get so much publicity, whose name and logo are so strong, that we prefer to follow them…
RJ: And this is the dark side of the power of media.
Creativity, Rei Kawakubo, Young Designers
BG: Can I ask, who is offering strong creativity in this moment?
FS: Rei Kawakubo, for example, continues to innovate every season after so many years. You might not like it but she continues to create. She has been so good, she is my Icon, because each season she creates this dialogue of research around herself, but she has also offered the opportunity to others like Tao, Undercover, and Junya Watanabe, to bring out their own personal creativity and take advantage of it.
RJ: I totally agree. Rei Kawakubo is my Icon too. I worked for Comme des Garçons for several years and it was the most enlightening experience one can have in fashion. Even with a modern subject, such as communities. IQONS is a Web 2.0. community, and I realized seeing Dover Street Market that Rei Kawakubo had understood well before many people the concept of community in her own way inviting other designers to be at Dover Street Market. Online Communities are a quiet social revolution going on now and it is changing the way things work. Since we started IQONS, we could see the power of it.
FS: She’s even too far ahead in design because, sometimes even I say that, I would never wear certain things she does. I buy them because I believe in her, and then a few years later I will find myself wearing it!
RJ: Her designs are so far ahead of times or is it that most people are behind…
FS: Yes, she puts things out there and she puts all of her energy into it.
RJ: In terms of young people, I would say that they are returning to a silhouette that is rather traditional. There are complex details and adornments but everything is much more classic and feminine in a traditional sense.
FS: I think that the young people are embarrassed to wear “fashion”. They want to wear what the others are wearing, or else to be “well-dressed”. But they are embarrassed to be a “Fashionista”. It’s not that they are embarrassed to express themselves; it’s just that they find it to be passé. My son, who is 23, keeps telling me, “that’s really ‘80’s, it’s old”.
BG:London it’s a little different. You can find a lot of young people, very dressed people: there’s the one dressed in 1980’s from head to toe, with pearl earrings and everything.
RJ:Yes, also London is fresh because the clothes are not necessarily from designers; kids create their own look from vintage and any range of stores. They do a lot of research.
FS: If the kids do it, it’s different. What I find unacceptable today are the fashion editors, the designers and fashion people dressing that way. It looks old.
BG: Paradoxically, all the designers I know in London are dressed as simple as possible!
RJ:Yes, this generation is not really keen in looking too fashion…. Still brands like Dior Homme have a lot of success with young people. It gives them clothes that aren’t too “fashion” and they say… Most of the clothes are over designed, I think myself, but their jeans are the best and basics are good and so popular.
FS: It’s the same in terms of what Paul Smith has done. He pulled out everything that people wanted in that moment and they are basically street clothes, they are not “designer” clothes.
RJ: So, where do you think the creativity lies in all this?
FS: Creativity doesn’t mean being ridiculous. It’s like putting together a magazine. It’s not that if I put a naked man on the cover I’m creative… Or if I put someone in tails, I’m old. Creativity is understanding when things change. When I wanted to change L’Uomo Vogue 6 months ago it was because we had seen too much of the intimacy of men. Men had been stripped down too much! Always in a jacket without a shirt underneath, the shirt tied at the waist, the sweater tied at the hips, it was as if being modern was being embarrassed about getting dressed. If you dressed men, you were old. But that was a phase and the phase has now ended. Now, you want to see men well-dressed, but it doesn’t mean a blue suit, it means dressed with things that have been researched, even extravagant things, but extravagance can be very diverse: the 18th century was extravagant, the beginning of the 20th century was extravagant. Why does extravagance today have to mean being badly dressed?
Men Dressing Up
BG: There was also the big prejudice that’s disappearing now, that if a man cares about how he’s dressed, he’s gay, in term of his image… because kids always said it, but not now.
FS: But this is the result…
RJ: I thought gay men didn’t dress anymore.
FS: It ended because of the sexual revolution that took place in the 80’s. Now, who cares about how you have sex? That’s your own business, no? What is interesting is aesthetics. If you see well-dressed people every once in a while, wearing things that might be a little bizarre but that are mixed together in the right way, it’s a pleasure! It doesn’t seem strange… it’s about personal research, it’s about not being banal. Then, it’s normal that a kid protects himself within a group. And it’s not the kid that buys the magazines. The kid buys a certain type of magazine one in ten times; therefore there isn’t a loyalty of readership… When you start to achieve a certain faithfulness in readership, you see that one dresses in jeans while the other is wearing a brocade vest and tails, because that looks good too. Young people, for instance, love wearing tuxedos.
RJ: Yes! You can see them everywhere.
FS: Because it’s fun! They like getting dressed up since they’re usually dressed in jeans. So seeing someone every once and a while who wears a mix of things, of materials, colors… someone wearing a strange top, you look at them! It’s clear that black solves everyone’s problem. You dress in black, but in my opinion – especially with men- dressing all in black, not a tuxedo or a suit, but t-shirts, etc… you end up looking like someone from the ‘80’s or at any rate not from today. We like seeing a guy with something a little different. The other day in NY I saw a guy wearing a strange vest, a shirt, a sweater, a big jacket. He looked great. He must have been 25 or 26. To be expressive means neither being gay nor the banality of whatever is supposedly “trendy” that you can’t stand. Who cares about those images where you just see men in their underwear?
RJ: This is what you see a lot of at the moment, in everything.
FS: I like to think that one person dresses well, another strangely, another badly, another formally… and to mix them all together in the same issue... I am crazy about Snoop Dogg, how he dresses, I find it fun…
RJ: I like him very much. I heard when he came to London recently, he wasn’t let inside the country. What a pity.
FS: He’s great because he’s created a character. It’s not that everyone needs to create a character like he has, but…
RJ: …he’s been pretty consistent over time.
A Mixed Up World
FS: I did an article, I think it was last month, with him and then Baryshnikov. So, one was elegance the other craziness. In my opinion, the world today is all mixed together. Today you don’t say, there’s art, there’s fashion, there’s cinema. You put them all together. That’s the beautiful thing. It’s a shame not to take advantage of it. Getting stuck on stereotypes, like if you do a magazine with men in their underwear it’s trendy and instead if you do one with a man who is dressed, it’s not. It’s stupid, limiting.
RJ: What do you think of stylists? There are so many people interested in becoming one or studying it.
FS: There are only a few that are really good. I’m not pro-stylist; actually today everyone thinks they can be a stylist. In order to be one, you need to have fashion culture! When you work with celebrities instead of models, they want to have a say in how they dress. When working with models, you’d send the full sets of clothes for the shooting, then the stylist would use for the shooting, only a pair of pants. They wouldn’t use the shirt or the jacket. I am sorry but what kind of styling is that? Because this is modern? Who cares! It’s not being modern that’s important, it’s being contemporary. If we had thought that there was only Picasso, Jeff Koons would have never been born. So, contemporary is today. Then, tomorrow morning, I’ll be ready to tell you the exactly the opposite of what I have just told you. But, tomorrow morning! Because I don’t want to get stuck… I don’t have a scheme.
RJ: You’ve seen all these blogs about style on the street, like the Sartorialist, who works with Style.com, or Facehunter. Do you like them?
FS: It’s good, fun, also so as not to always see the same faces…
BG: Also because fashion can sometimes work vertically, from bottom to top, coming from the street. Even the emerging English designers. There are so many different ways of dressing in those areas of London in which they live that the designer starts doing things in that same way and becomes the avant-garde of London. And then, a year later, everyone in the world is doing it…
RJ:I love to see how people dress differently from one city to another; you can often guess where they are from…
FS: Each person plays the part they live. If you live in Manhattan, downtown is different from uptown. If you live in Milan, you automatically have a more bourgeois mentality than people from somewhere else, because you are less stimulated.
BG: But it is a type of culture and mind-frame. I always see it in London, living in the east for a while now, I realize that my internal structure is much more bourgeois even though I’ve been in London for 5 years… before I was in NY for 4…
FS: I think you have to use everything you have and then “buzzzzz” put it in the blender and pull out something new. And then, the thing that I find wrong is coherence. We shouldn’t be coherent. We should continue to challenge ourselves. Every day I come here, I challenge myself. I change the sequencing of the magazine just as we are going to press…
BG: I imagine it drives everyone crazy…
FS: I change the cover, I change things, I change the photos… that’s what makes it fresh
RJ: And where accidents happen, this is where you find the magic.
FS: Sometimes they really are accidents…
RJ: I love accidents since they are the only things that push evolution. Like the inventions.
BG:When the accidents come from the right input, they usually create something exceptional, magical.
RJ: How do you see this new revolution on the internet?
FS: Fundamentally, we can’t live without it. But, I think that we can’t assume that it’s the only direction we will go in because it’s like thinking that one day we’ll all just wear plastic bags because they’re cheaper. That’s not ok. The smell of paper, to be able to hold the object, to be able to look at things again… because the beauty of the internet is it’s speed, but the drawback is that it leaves you with no memory.
BG: Yes, you can save the site but it’s not the same as taking another look at the page. I keep the copies. Books, too…
FS: You need the history. A good book will always give you a nice feeling. It’s good because going too fast… it’s like living in NY and saying that you would like to only live in Florence. You can’t put down Florence or Venice because in any case they have history, but it’s great to go to NY to energize. I think there needs to be synergies. Internet needs to set the tone for the magazines that are more subdued, and the magazines need to give an image for those who don’t look at the internet.
RJ: Of course. How do you see these communities, like Myspace for example? What they’ve done with music and what we would like to do with fashion: opening new channels of communication and giving more freedom to people in order to express themselves.
FS: Fantastic. Because you find everything. You come into contact with people that you wouldn’t normally.
RJ: Designers find feedback… for example, Lutz told me how he thought it was great to know what other people thought of his collection. Because he had never heard it before, because people will tell you face to face, but to be polite, they’re nice. But a person that doesn’t know you sees things intuitively…
BG: In fact, we made the Catwalk Rating, where you can decide which designer’s collection you want to see and vote on each look. Or you can click on random to see a selection of looks and leave a comment that can be seen...
RJ:You rate catwalk looks on a scale from 1 to 10, where each scale also contains a written description, such as: “not for me”, “I like”, “ I love” and “I adore”. We chose to apply these generic categories to the look rather than to the designer or the collection. We wanted to avoid too much controversy since reviewing a collection or the work of a designer, as a whole, requires a deeper knowledge and understanding. I wanted this feature to be fun and to encourage people to share their opinions. It’s meant to be sticky, catchy and fun. I thought we would have to monitor the comments but we didn’t need to. In general, most comments people leave are interesting and very pertinent.
FS: Because the fact remains that you may like the comments but you don’t know who reads them…
RJ: In any case, as a platform, IQONS has no editorial content, except for that which we are doing in a very spontaneous way because we are not opinion leaders but purely a platform.
FS: Sometimes, when I have time – which isn’t often – I sit down and take a look at the comments because, actually, it does bring out a lot of things.
RJ: It’s like a fashion study of whatever happens. Everyone can vote. Then you need to be a member in order to leave a comment, which allows us to make the distinction between who has a little more fashion-culture and the comments of people we don’t know.
FS: That’s great, I like it a lot!
BG: Who got the most votes, Dior? Margiela?
RJ: Dior, Balenciaga… the comments on Balenciaga are great, full of wit… It would be interesting to compare what IQONS people say next to what the world press says…
BG: I was expecting more comments on Margiela, because everyone loved it…
RJ: Margiela is one of the most-loved within our community. He is also one of my favorites…
BG: He’s always been a favorite of mine as well; the concept of the house is highly respected…
FS: Margiela is really something else…
RJ: And for the future?
FS: It’s all open. For me the future is already tomorrow morning. It’s not like in the past when someone would make plans. You would say, now I’m going to get organized and in a year, I’ll do it… The beauty of the work that I like doing is that I can change everything tomorrow morning. I receive lots of support, from the right publishing house, though. Because when I decide that I want to do something, they support me, but I am also supported by the strength of our sales, which means we sell pages.
BG: Of course, there is the support and appreciation of the public… actually, that’s what you need, I think it is one of the reasons for which – I have to say it – I don’t buy other magazines, but as soon as I arrive in Italy, I run out and get it!
RJ: There is an artistic quality to Vogue Italia that I, personally, don’t find in other magazines…
FS: We try every time! But, it’s not that every time you get what you want…
RJ: To conclude, do you have any internet projects?
FS: We already have a site: Style.it. and I would like to make an intelligent site for men. There’s already Style… You see, I don’t want to use the word “fashion” with men. I like men’s “style” because there are so many different kinds of men, much more than women. Because women go more or less by category: chic, BCBG, conceptual, minimal, slutty… With men, each one is unique. It is rare that two men talk about clothing and want to dress the same way.
RJ: You are right, the styles are very different. Thank you so much, your perspectives and ideas have been so interesting!
books by her
Dolce and Gabbana
Waltert Chin (co-author)
Italian Vogue's Franca Sozzani with Alberta Ferretti at a cocktail party to celebrate the opening of the designer's new boutique on March 4, 2004.
Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani and Rifat Ozbek, at a party for the designer, at Henri Bendel, September 9.
Galas for ICP, The Whitney, and El Museo del Barrio
Paris Fashion Week Parties
Versace Private Dinner - Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani and Brana Wolf.
Fashion Week Parties from Milan - Condé Nast's Chuck Townsend with Donatella Versace and Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani.
Milan Fashion Week Spring 2006 -
Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani and Alber Elbaz, at the Fashion Fund dinner.
Paris Couture Week Parties -Azzedine Alaïa and Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani. _______________________________________________
Paris Fashion Week- Vogue Italia’s Franca Sozzani and Luca Stoppini.
Paris Couture Week- Princess Rosario of Bulgaria, with Vogue Italia's Luca Stoppini and Franca Sozzani.
Look at the body language here!
Milan Fashion Week Parties - Anna VS Franca (not official style.com caption)
Costume Institute red carpet: Vogue Italia’s Franca Sozzani, in Alexander McQueen, with her son, Francesco Carrozzini.
The future is stupid
Oh My...I've never seen a picture of Franca & Anna together
At first I thought it might be one of your specials sethii
Those pics w/Azzendine are Carla not Franca...but Carla's great too
Thanks for all the picsand what a lovely picture of Franca w/her son
what is past is prologue
^ the caption from style.com says they are franca
I have another pic with anna, again the body language is the same
What I would love is a feature with pics of her house I wonder what it would be like something like a tim walker editorial? with her green mini outside