Five Questions With Franca Sozzani
1) What motivated you to take action against stereotypes of beauty in the fashion industry?
The best compliment that a friend can tell you is, “Oh, you lost so much weight, you look so great.” What does it mean? Why do we all have this mentality that you look so gorgeous if you’re skinny? This is the compliment that everybody makes to other persons to make them happy. But you know, when they tell me, “Oh you look so skinny,” I think that this means that I look so old.When I made the website, I thought that there are different kinds of categories that are never included in a website. And one of the categories is curvy because the curvy women have different problems in dress[ing] up because after certain sizes you don’t find [clothes] in the main designers. In the shoulders, everything has to be made on purpose for people who are curvy, so it’s completely different. I thought it was very nice to hire bloggers who are curvy and to tell stories of women that are very satisfied with what they physically are.
2) Why does this trope exist in fashion?
It’s easier. They are one size. When it was Naomi—big shoulders and small hips. And Linda, she has larger hips and smaller shoulders, and everyone has a different shape. Cindy, she has boobs, and Claudia Schiffer, she has another kind of shape. At this time, every one of them was trying to find themselves, to find their own way. And today, they all look similar. I feel much better than them in a way. I have my own personality. I think that I made the best that I could make for myself at my age, but I don’t like to be ridiculous with miniskirts or something that doesn’t fit to my age. When you are young, you think that you can do anything and to be a model must be to go around like a zombie in the street. That’s not the point. The supermodels were beautiful women. We have to go back to this moment.
3) What’s the role of the fashion industry in promoting positive body images?
They wanted to make a limit of age, of weight—that is not the point. The point is to drive people to be ready to have the right nutrition without getting fat, without changing their shape, but to be healthy. It’s about education that you have behind you and traditions that you have behind you and you have to be supported when you are so young by your family because it’s very easy to get lost. So your family could support you and say, “You are too skinny,” or “You take too much drugs” or “You do something wrong.” Sometimes it’s true that these girls come from the East side [of Europe] and they all look alike, and they are really skinny, and they keep skinny because they think—they believe—that it’s the only way to please the designer. Because they are scared. They are more than scared. They think that getting skinny, they get what we want. We don’t want that. Don’t think that there is only one prototype of beauty. This is the mistake in this fashion world.Many of your projects have been considered controversial.
4) Do you worry about that when you think of what to do next?
Everything that I do is controversial. So I don’t care. I really do not care. There is always somebody that will say something against you. I did it. I was very happy that I did it. I think they were absolutely sexy and sensual and attractive.
5) What inspires an issue of the magazine?
Anything. When I did the black issue, I did it because I was looking at the shows and I was asking my assistant, “Who is this girl?” Svetlana B. “Who is this girl?” Svetlana C. Svetlana D. Svetlana V. The only girl that I liked was Liya Kebede. So I stopped and said, “We are really making a mistake because we are following a trend.” Nobody wanted to do it because they were scared that we would be accused of racism. [When I decided to do it] it was the famous Tuesday in which Obama and Hilary were decided for the Democratic [nomination] and I was in New York. And I said, “This is a sign, I have to do this issue.” And the issue came out on the day that Obama came out against Hilary. And people found time to write that I did [it] on purpose. How can I know if Obama was the winner? So everything that you do is controversial. Don’t worry about it.