Franca Sozzani’s star was bright from the beginning of her career, but had no idea where she would eventually end up. She studied philosophy and Germanic language and literature, married at 20 and thought she would spend her days raising a family. Not quite – three months into her marriage, she left her husband. She joined Vogue Bambini in 1976 as an assistant before working her way up (in no more than four years) as editor–in–chief of LEI, Italy’s premiere fashion magazine for young women. In 1988, she moved on to the top spot at Vogue Italia, where she still serves as editor–in–chief.
Sozzani’s rebellion at the magazine started early on. She began by printing international designers alongside the Italian ones that were consistently shown in the magazine, noting that couture shouldn’t only be Italian. She became known for the magazine’s bold, artistic photoshoots, which often reflect on culture and society. Her critics question her tactics; she was even called an opportunist when she published a high–fashion photo shoot inspired by the BP oil spill. “The spread had a positive message,” she told Time magazine in 2011. “Don’t push nature too much, or she will rebel against you.” She has a point. Vogue Italia’s edgy – and, sometimes, controversial – photo shoots have become the magazine’s strength.
Although the magazine has a small circulation – 140,000 readers compared to American Vogue’s 1.3 million – it has become the most influential fashion magazine in the world with Sozzani at the helm. Only some people can understand Italian, but the magazine’s provocative images can be felt by anyone.
1. Franca Sozzani in the New York Times in 2011. Photo: Piepaolo Ferrari
2. Cover of the Oil Spill photo story in Vogue Italia from the Guardian, 2010. Photo: Steven Meisel
3. Franca Sozzani on the Sartorialist, 2007. Photo: Scott Schuman
4. Vogue Italia Feb. 2014 cover. Photo: Steven Meisel
5. Vogue Italia March 2014 cover. Photo: Steven Meisel
– Tanisha Wallis
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