LEGEND: A person who embodies the pinnacle of all the important social aspects. A person to whose persona you aspire.
Last Thursday we lost a big one… A visionary, a support system for young talents, a woman who didn’t shy away from sharing her opinion regardless of it being controversial or not. You see, for her “fashion wasn’t about clothes but rather about life” and she devoted 28 years as Editor in Chief of Vogue Italia to highlight social and environmental issues. In a world where fashion is often mistaken for being a “superficial” industry, Franca Sozzani showed us all that it can also be used as a positive platform to talk about all sort of things. Yes…we can be pretty, dress well and still be aware of what’s going on in the world and have an opinion about it!
Through the lens of protégé and photographer Steven Meisel, Franca Sozzani has been THE fashion editor to first talk about ethnic diversity, anorexia, and even political issues all, in a very candid way. She has pushed boundaries despite being criticized at times as she often thought that the “fashion world [was] too perfect and glossy.”
Franca has been the Editiorial Director for Conde Nast Italy since 1994 and FRANCAmente this woman will be miss, but in order to keep her alive, here are her top 10 most controversial covers for Vogue Italia since 1988:
1- Make Love Not War- September 2007
Shedding light on the war on Iraq and women being used as soldier’s toys in moments of stress, this issue has been described by The Guardian as the most nauseatingly tasteless fashion issue.
Women were represented as some kind of sexual relief, but were dressed in fashion’s finest such as Versace, Cavalli and Dior.
2- The Discipline of Fashion – September 2011
Women go through great lengths to enhance their beauty as most want to stay fit and have the “perfect” body seen in magazines. Inspired by the 20th century style icon, Ethel Granger who had a 13 inches waistline, Franca wanted to demonstrate how much women are willing to suffer in order to remain fashionable.
3- Horror Movie – April 2014
Painful to watch and truly provocative, this issue was about bringing awareness to domestic violence and ultimately giving women in abusive relationship a voice. Franca’s reasoning? Speak up for those who couldn’t : “The horror of life is bigger than the one in the movies…how fragile the woman still is today, how she can be attacked, abused and be killed”
4- Make Over Madness – July 2005
The fast and rapid rise of cosmetic surgery amongst women, had to be translated into a fashion editorial of course! Steven Meisel photographed a few models showing the entire process of getting plastic surgery, from the operating room to recovering and being taken care of by your spouse, nurse and maids.
5- The Plus Size Issue- June 2011
Beautiful and real… this issue was dedicated to plus size models only! Franca wanted to show body diversity and bring up the conversation about fashion being allegedly the source of anorexia. She was one of the first to do so and even went as far as featuring three plus size models (Tara Lynn, Robyn Lowley and Candice Huffine) on the cover. The issue was followed by a “Curvy” section on www.vogue.it.
6- State of Emergency – September 2006
Long before the excess amount of documented police brutality in the United States, ten years ago the abuse of power used by police officers on civilians was an issue raised by Vogue Italia. The magazine received some backlash as they thought Franca was glamorizing a truly violent problem.
7- The All Black Issue- July 2008
Franca’s personal favorite and Vogue’s most wanted issue ever, the four different covers paying tribute to black women only was a direct response to the lack of ethnic diversity on international runways. Supermodels such as Iman, Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell were all featured in the magazine that made Vogue’s history as it was sold out all over the world and after just 72 hours in the UK. The issue had to be re printed three times due to its high deman, and was even sold on eBay for 45 US$
8- The Latest Wave – August 2010
After much photographs surfaced on the web about the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a disastrous event for the environment and animals, Vogue Italia august issue featured a model looking like an injured bird. This was Franca’s way to criticize the situation and showcase the different ways it became an Eco-disaster.
9- Tribal Influences – March 2014
Wanting to showcase tribal influences on fashion, this issue was heavily criticized for having a white model with “black face”.
10- Cleansing – July 2007
Supermodels being forced into going to rehab and getting cured for their addiction was brilliantly executed by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia. Models attending group meetings, exercising and even seeing a psychologist were photographed after they’ve been spotted by paparazzis and caught partying too hard.