The Uppers: Franca Sozzani, personality who dreamed with passion.
“Creativity is about doing anything you want – in London in the 60s nobody wanted to look alike, but today everyone does.”
Franca Sozzani held the position of editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia for 28 years, before sadly passing away in December 2016. Sozzani was born and grew up in Mantua, Lombardy, northern Italy. She married at the age of 20, but the union was dissolved three months later.
She was known for her philanthropic work and is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations. Famous luxury shopping boutique 10 Corso Como was founded by her sister, Carla Sozanni.
Bruce Weber, Peter Lindbergh, and Paolo Roversi worked with Franca and she gave them complete freedom to choose models and subjects, and encouraged them to experiment with their work.
Campaigns that created discussions
Sozzani created a bit of chaos during her career at the magazine. Her campaigns were debated and sometimes called inappropriate. Through her pictures she talked about domestic violence, drug abuse and recovery, and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010. Issues of her magazine included “The Black Issue” (which featured only models of color), “Makeover” (dedicated to the exploding phenomenon of plastic surgery) and most recently “Rebranding Africa”.
What Condé Nast wanted, says Sozzani, was “girls jumping, laughing”. What they ended up with was stories like Steven Meisel’s 70-page “Makeover Madness”, a riff on cosmetic surgery that featured models in various “before” and “after” poses, and some in mid-operation. There are bloody bandages, liposuction tubes, syringes and scalpels. It’s as if the screenwriters of Ab Fab had managed to insert Patsy and Edina into the acme of fashion, illuminating the artifice of the beauty industry in one fell swoop.
Sozzani: “Some of the people I know very well told me: ‘I thought this was disgusting, this issue, with all this blood, it has no respect for women,’” she recalls. “I don’t understand that point of view. Women decide to have plastic surgery, and it’s a choice. It’s not like it’s an imposition from somebody else.”
Vogue cover June 2011
Stunning shot appeared on the cover of Vogue Italia in 2011. Steven Meisel portayted beautiful women as Tara Lynn, Candice Huffine and Robyn Lawley. The decision to shoot these models isn’t a mere publicity stunt. It builds on efforts by the magazine’s audacious editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani to highlight the beauty of women who wear larger sizes.
In February Sozzani launched the website Vogue Curvy, which offers style tips to women who aren’t a size zero, and praises style “curvy icons” like Kim Kardashian and Oprah Winfrey who exude elegance in larger sizes. She’s also launched a campaign to shut down web sites that promote anorexia.
The son of Sozzani was much involved into her life, even though she did not give him a traditional family model.
“She’s very much about the future, and I’m a huge nostalgic,” he says. “This is literally the thing that differentiates us the most.” It’s also, perhaps, the animating principle behind Sozzani’s editorial instincts. “It’s not that I don’t think of the past, but it’s a waste of time,” she says. “If you’re stuck in the past, beholden to it, then your creativity is stuck there, too, because you don’t give yourself a chance to evolve.”
People want to dream…
“People want to dream,” she says. “They want to take a journey, a trip in their imagination, and that’s not simply about buying a dress.” At the same time, she thinks that luxury fashion is designed for young women but only affordable for the middle-aged. “So you see women of 55, 60, nude – wearing a transparent dress as if that’s normal,” she scoffs. (From the interview for The Guardian Magazine)
“I add the dream,” she cries, the light glancing off her arresting blue eyes. And then again, for emphasis: “I add the dream. (From the interview for The Guardian Magazine)