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Q&A: Franca Sozzani

Vogue Italia's editor in chief doesn’t shy away from controversy. Some might argue she courts it.

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Franca Sozzani

Photo By Andrea Del Bò

WWD: You know your own mind. Is it important to be self-assured? How do you feel when your blog gets negative reactions?
F.S.:
I respond, “They can go to hell.” I say that I’m sick and tired and I won’t write my blog anymore, then they say, “Oh, continue.” I write what I think and we can’t all agree; if we all did, where would controversy be? If there is no controversy, there is no opinion. If there were controversy, we wouldn’t have [Prime Minister Silvio] Berlusconi, right? We would maybe have someone else. So the beauty is to have controversy. Unfortunately, we don’t have it in Italy, and for this reason our political situation remains what it is. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone, because I’ve been head of a magazine for 22 years, and I find that I can express my ideas the way I want to. Then if you don’t agree, we can discuss it. I didn’t say I’m right, I say what I think. This is why it’s fundamental to talk to our readers. They are so diverse, and it’s important to understand what they think.

WWD: You have always been reserved and communicated through images. How do you feel about all this writing?
F.S.:
What bores me the most is to write about fashion shows, because I’ve always experienced them at a visual level. To put it down in words is much more difficult, I enjoy it less and it interests me less. What I like is to tackle different topics.

WWD: How do you feel about Italian fashion now?
F.S.:
With several brands, Italy is going through an especially magic moment. In no other country in the world is there such a concentration of names and famous brands. And they are influential. Over the past two years, Italy has pushed the creative envelope.

WWD: Following Bulgari’s recent sale to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, there is a lot of talk now about international companies taking over Italian brands.
F.S.:
I don’t find it wrong. I think that if a big group, whether it is American, French, English or German, buys an Italian brand and creativity and production remain Italian, the image remains Italian anyway. It’s not Bulgarì [with an accent on the last i] because it’s owned by [Bernard] Arnault. It doesn’t become French. Bottega Veneta is owned by PPR and remains an Italian brand, even if it is designed by a foreign designer. As is Fendi. The same with companies that go public. I think we should see the world in its totality, because it’s a way to see globally.

WWD: A question you are asked at breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, at least here: What kind of a relationship do you have with Anna Wintour?
F.S.:
We are absolutely independent from one another but we are very much on the same page. It’s never happened that she proposes an idea that I don’t like, and vice versa. And we are both very quick, so it’s boom-boom-boom, in five minutes we do everything.

WWD: In fact you have a similar way to answer questions — very precise.
F.S.:
Yes, we are very precise, very direct. And that’s exactly what I very much like of her. There are no games, it’s all very transparent. When Anna says something, it’s that, she is very reliable and also very fair. And I do the same with her.

WWD: Are you already working on Fashion’s Night Out?
F.S.:
Yes, we are. It’s a project that is working very well because people feel involved. It’s democratic because it’s open to everyone. Fashion is democratic in this sense, but a runway show will never be democratic, because there is not enough room to invite everyone or to have free entry. I think that a show in a square is mock-democratic, unless it’s a really big designer. If you show a second line of a designer, who is not even the most important, I think it’s a joke. I think that to be democratic, I must give the same quality I give to people I care for. I can’t be democratic with scraps.

WWD: I read that you find runway shows somewhat boring?
F.S.:
I do get really bored at shows. Shows must be creative, without becoming ridiculous, otherwise a showroom presentation is best. And also I’m bored with what has emerged around the shows.

WWD: Celebrities?
F.S.:
Not even that. It’s all these photographers, all these blogs, these magazines, you don’t even know who they all are. You get stopped and if you don’t stop you are rude, they must photograph you to end up who knows where. I don’t know — I feel it’s a pointless distraction. But as with magazines, there will eventually be a selection.

WWD: Your blog about bloggers didn’t go down well with some.
F.S:
Yes, because I said enough with all these blogs, because it’s the quantity, anyone can take a photo, put it on a blog, say I like it, I don’t like it. Anyone can do a blog. I would rather people found their own style. I find Scott Schuman is a genius, because he created The Sartorialist, and he created a concept. After him, how many were born? Millions, but he remains. My blog about that really got lots of negative reviews.

WWD: Which blog was most popular?
F.S.:
The one where I said that parents should not hinder their children’s creative process. Everyone today still wants their children to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, but what is the problem if your son wants to become a designer, or a creative? Maybe in the rest of the world it’s very different, but in Italy there is still this thing that if you say that your son wants to become a designer or an art director, they automatically think he must be gay. So what, even if it were the case? We are in 2011, who cares?

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