Friday, June 10, 2011

The Vogue Experience With Franca Sozzani, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia

Photos from The Vogue Experience of Franca Sozzani, Lisa Armstrong and Giles Deacon

On Wednesday I attended The Vogue Experience at Harvey Nichols. I was lucky enough to be invited to the audience with Franco Sozzani, the editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia where she was interviewed by Lisa Armstrong.

Franca Sozzani took over Italian Vogue in 1988, the same year that Anna Wintour took the helm of American Vogue. At the time, Italian Vogue was more of a catalogue than a magazine and only featured Italian designers. Since the magazine is in Italian, Sozzani said she knew the most important thing in the magazine are the images saying, "the images became my way to talk to the world." She soon hired photographer Steven Meisel who now shoots every cover of Vogue Italia. She spoke of when she first hired him saying she has "never seen anyone so beautiful in my life. Someone so beautiful doesn't need to be talented." Everyone in the room chuckled at this comment because not only is Meisel talented, he is one of the foremost important fashion photographers in the world.

Sozzani said when she looks for an image for Vogue Italia she looks for "an emotion, even if I hurt you a little bit." This promted Lisa Armstrong to begin talking to Sozzani about a famous Italian Vogue cover featuring Linda Evangelista having just had plastic surgery.

The most interesting part of the interview for me was when Franca Sozzani addressed the difference in models today compared to the super models 20 years ago. She referenced different features saying that 20 years ago there was a tall one, a small one, a blonde one, a black one. With these words, my mind immediately conjured images of Kate Moss, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Claudia Schiffer, the original dream team of the fashion world. She spoke of how these women had hips, boobs, butts and muscles and how even though they were fit and thin, they were real women and they were sexy. She spoke of how models today are often very young teenagers, super thin and somehow this is a sign that the market took a wrong turn somewhere.

When asked about anorexia and the like, she spoke freely saying that most of the time, models aren't anorexic when they start out. They don't develope anorexia in order to be models because when they start, they are children, but they sometimes become anorexic as they develope in order to maintain their child-like forms.

Franca Sozzani is a thin woman with blonde hair and blue eyes. She's lovely and one of the elite in the fashion world, yet she seems very down-to-earth and possesses that love of life and appreciation of beauty that Europeans, especially Italians are known for. She spoke of the effect of the trend of chosing thin models and how it "implies only one kind of beauty, but many women are beautiful and have all different kinds of things to say." She further spoke of how Vogue Italia petitioned against the 3,000 pro-anorexic websites in the world and said "Today Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren would be called curvy girls. Can you imagine?"

Being ever so inspiring, Sozzani advised a young photographer on how to succeed saying "The best way is to find your own way." She further praised Steven Meisel's talent saying "To be a good photographer you have to care about people" and said that Meisel's incredible success comes from his love of people, particularly women.

The final words I heard from Franca Sozzani as I left the room, already feeling inspired was what I heard her say to a very young girl who asked for an autograph. She simply said "follow your dream and never give up." Those are definitely words to live by. As I left the room I walked past 2006 British Designer of the Year, Giles Deacon and I thought to myself, this has been a great day!

Click here to visit Pink Julep's Dressing Room and see what I wore for the event.

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