Love for the Lovely Italian
Franca Sozzani is one of my favorite Editors and Style Icons of all time. I briefly mentioned her in my StyleBy post. I have always admired how she carries herself. There is a quiet strength and kindness about her.
Besides being the Editor-In-Chief and Artistic Director of Conde Nast Italia (Vogue Italia, Lei, Per Lui, Vogue Bambini and other Conde Nast Italian magazines), publishing and collaborating on art and photography books through out her career, she also wrote a daily column in Vogue Italia for a while. Here are a few tidbits that I really loved and wanted to share.
On Appearance and Success:
On why some fashion insiders dress so badly:
For me she is the gold standard of a complete woman – An intelligent and warm human being who wears her age with a smile, lets her hair be, lets her life’s work speak for itself, has her own opinions (strong ones too!), and is not in a hurry to get on the ‘latest trend’ bandwagons.
As Vogue Italia editor, her agenda was not always to sell magazines and put the most ‘saleable’ star on the cover. Her work could take days to discuss, dissect and appreciate.
While Vogue America is still the more popular, younger sister and clearly the crown jewel among all Conde Nast magazines, Vogue Italia is the elder sister who found zen a long time ago. She knows what she wants, she knows what she believes in. She is not afraid of taking risks, quietly without having to make a story out of them. Heck, may be she doesn’t even think of them as risks anymore. With Franca Sozzani, I am not sure where the woman ends and her life’s work begins.
My interest in her started about 5 years ago and bloomed into full fledged love over the years. If I am able to carry myself, half as elegantly as she does, in my 50s and 60s, I’d consider myself a success in the departments of style, grace and decorum. Here are a few style lessons I’ve learnt from researching her years. I hope you enjoy the list and at least a few of these resonate with you.
1. Dressing up can be effortless if you know yourself – What does Effortless dressing mean to you? Is it to ‘look’ like you did not try too hard? or Does it mean you did not have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to adorn yourself? I believe in the latter. For me effortless dressing is not sticking to neutral colors. It means walking into my closet and finding that everything in there feels ‘Right’, ‘Me’ and fits well (need not be perfect, just well)
2. A dress can be a power suit -Yes Please! I meet more and more people who think that wearing a dress somehow makes you weak and docile. What really makes your presence / persona weak is wearing something that you are NOT comfortable in. Your power suit should be exactly that – YOURS. Whether it is a dress, a skirt, a pair of awesome trousers is totally up to you. Also, being feminine or masculine or androgynous or anything between is not a weakness. Everyone should be allowed to be what they want to be without being perceived as weak or out of style or boring.
3. Never underestimate the usefulness of a tea length dress – What is the meaning of cocktail casual? What can be an effortless party look for daytime, evening and nighttime, indoors and outdoors? What length is easy to pull off on women of varying heights. What gown doesn’t sweep the ground or require a visit to the dry cleaners every time you wear it to a outdoor party.
4. Color and prints are your friends – Don’t shy away from them. Understand what colors really look great on you other than Black and White. Embrace color – enjoy it, love it, edit it and more importantly, don’t be afraid to discard it when it just doesn’t feel right.
5. Don’t worry about a few wrinkles – We all live in a generation where every single wrinkle can be fixed. Perfect nose jobs, perfect cheekbones with the right amount of fillers. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has the choice to do what they want with their face. Personally, I think the secret is to ‘not worry too much about age and wrinkles’. Sozzani is the perfect example of a woman who will not be ruled by a few laughter lines and gray hairs. It takes a lot of restraint to draw the line on how far you would go in the name of beauty and still take care of your body well.
6. Let your hair be – Just take care of it as much as you can and don’t fuss about having silky, straight, shiny hair. Play around with it. If you want to try a new color, go for it. Real hair is supposed to have life and it gets out of place once in a while.
Her hair reminds me of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus
7. Spread the Love and Be Kind – One of these days, somebody more talented, much younger, much taller, more popular and with less (or no!) wrinkles will come along. There is no place for women who don’t help other women in the current political climate. So let’s be generous and kind in our support, and honest and polite when expressing our opinions. Let’s teach and learn from our peers and friends. You’d be surprised with how much we could achieve together.
Farewell, Madame Sozzani! A heart felt Thank You for a life time of inspiration
Who is your favorite fashion editor? Any style rules you picked up from them? What is your favorite magazine cover – recent or old?