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  • Writer's pictureLISA THARP

Inspiration from A Groundbreaking Fashion Icon, Italian Vogue Editor Franca Sozzani

Updated: Dec 14, 2018

While I am immersed in the world of architecture and design,  I find myself regularly looking to other realms for creative inspiration...  ​Nature, Art, Fashion.

A year ago this month, the fashion world lost an icon at the age of 66.  Franca Sozzani helmed Vogue Italia for 28 years, during which time she elevated magazine editorial to high art. "This is a choice I made... Vogue was in Italian but I wanted to speak to everyone so I thought of creating images that were made to talk."

BEFORE SOZZANI A Vogue Italia 1987 cover

AFTER SOZZANI - A streamlined first cover, "The New Style", heralding a brand new approach.

Sozzani encouraged her editorial teams to look beyond the obvious or commercial. "People want to dream," she says. "They want to take a journey... Fashion isn't really about clothes.  It's about life."  So she took her readers on aspirational, even fantastical adventures, 

Lily Cole in ‘Imaginary Fantastic Bizarre’ by Tim Walker for Vogue Italia, July 2005

​Sozzani saw her role as providing readers with "sensations, feelings. moods..."

Vogue Italia, May 1993. Photography by Steven Meisel.

And she had a lot to say.  According to W Magazine, she "transformed the magazine from one simply about clothes into one that championed its photographers, regularly broke boundaries, and never shied away from important issues." For example, in 2010, she stirred up controversy with the magazine's cover story on the BP oil spill. "I didn't expect [the reaction to the BP feature] at all... there was so much buzz... I don't understand those that say that a magazine such as Vogue should not talk about these things," said Sozzani.

Vogue Italia cover, August 2010. Model Kristen McMenamy, photography by Steven Meisel.

Her only child Francesco Carrazzini's tender documentary, Franca: Chaos and Creationpulls back the curtain to reveal a woman passionately committed to her two loves:  fashion and her son, at the expense of finding true love for herself.

I connected to this movie on many levels... the desire to elevate design to something higher, the delicate balance of career and parenting that all working women must strike, my respect for Italy's enduring legacy of design and craftsmanship, and the qualities of strong role models on my mother's Italian side of the family — from my own mom, to my aunts, to my brave great-grandmothers who immigrated to a new land.

Thank you, Francesco, for sharing your mom's inspiring biography.  And thank you, Franca, for inspiring me to tell a story, to make people feel, to make them think.. ideals to strive for every day in our work as designers. 

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