Is thick the new thin?
It no longer feels like such a big deal to see a curvy girl in a fashion spread or a black girl on a runway. Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani on championing diversity and fighting to change the fashion industry.
Franca Sozzani has been editing Vogue Italia for 22 years, molding it into a magazine considered to be the most creative of all its Conde Nast-owned sisters. But it’s only in recent years, as the old-guard magazine world has struggled to hold onto its ADD-addled readers, that she’s really taken the title’s popularity to another level.
Sozzani has made Vogue Italia a hot topic by doing things previously unheard of in the high stakes glossy magazine world, like devoting entire issues to black and plus-size models, long thought unbankable as cover girls, or waging an online war against anorexia and the modeling world’s impossible weight standards.
“Today, we have so many magazines, so many blogs — people will never be involved if you don’t scream your message. I’m not scared to try things in a new way,” she says.
Do you think the fashion world is becoming more open to curvy women?
Honestly, no. It only begins to happen when you start to fight against something. When I did the black issue, I thought the black girls would be more successful. And now, you see more black girls in the editorials and even on the runway. It’s not so huge of course, it takes time. It took putting black girls in more issues. And with the curvy women, it won’t just take one issue. It will take doing more issues with somebody a little bit plus-size. People will eventually pay attention.
Why did you choose to create the special channels, Vogue Black and Vogue Curvy, on your site as opposed to integrating the content into the site in general?
To have a channel like Vogue Curvy means that it’s a place where people who are not size zero can find suggestions for ways to dress in a fashion way and feel attractive and beautiful and alive. It’s not a ghetto. Let’s remember that these women are happy with their bodies. For me, this was the main lesson. It’s a very strong statement to see these women who see themselves as sexy. It makes you realize that there isn’t anything wrong with them. There’s something wrong in our minds. And so with there being so many pro-anorexia sites online — there are 2,000 around the world — Vogue Curvy is at least one place where readers can go and see people who are more curvy and feel good with their own bodies.
Do you think we’ll ever see a day when curvy models are as prevalent as they were during the supermodel era??
I hope so. But I cannot choose the girls for the fashion shows, or the designers, I can only be a journalist. I can only see and observe.
On your blog, you tend to say what a lot of people in fashion think, but won’t admit out loud.
Every day, I have this nightmare, “Oh my God, I have to write the blog. What to do today!” It’s so tiring because the readers — sometimes they like it, sometimes we fight, sometimes they don’t even answer. I really don’t suggest to anyone that they try to do something like that. I just write what I feel. Sometimes people dislike it. Every day, I take my risks.