Franca Sozzani on Hating Fashionistas, Being Bored By Lookalike Models

franca sozzani
Photo: Patrick McMullan
Read my lips: Franca Sozzani sounds off on the fashion industry.

You can always count on Franca Sozzani for a good soundbite, and the outspoken Italian Vogue editor-in-chief doesn't disappoint with her latest chat with New York Times writer Eric Wilson.

Just named a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations' Fashion 4 Development initiative, Sozzani sounds off on her plans to teach fashion skills and build production facilities in impoverished countries. But the conversation soon turns to her view of the fashion industry, warts and all.

Asked if she feels her envelope-pushing editorials make a big impact, she displays mixed feelings.

"We did an issue on extreme plastic surgery, and yet I am more and more shocked at how much people have changed," Sozzani says. "Since then, I don’t think I have seen so much Botox around the world. We didn’t stop anything. Where we did good probably was with the black issue. Not immediately, not like everybody said after the issue, 'Now I want to have black girls.' But I see, step by step, there are more and more black girls on the runway."

In her opinion, though, the industry still has a long way to go on the diversity front.

"Part of the problem is with the agencies," she says. "You don’t have so many American girls, you don’t have Italian girls, you don’t have French girls. The scouts only go to the eastern part of Europe now. Is it possible that all of the other countries do not have beautiful girls? I cannot believe that. I was so bored to see all these faces. They all looked alike. To make all the girls the same—blond, blue eyes, long legs—at the end, all of the clothes look alike."

Though she insists she's "not trying to be provocative," Sozzani can't help but weigh in on Italy's image problem ("when you look in magazines, it looks like all women are vulgar and involved in a sex scandal"), the challenge of being original ("sometimes chic is very boring"), and her own reputation.

"It has happened probably because I said something silly, like, 'I don’t know why I would ever get married again, because I was much better than the man I was dating,' and so it becomes a story," she says. "The Internet is so quick, and that sentence is picked up. Sometimes I say I think elegance is very boring, or I hate fashionistas. You start with something that you say in a situation, and after that the journalists pick some sentence and some quote and say just that. It’s not that I wake up and say, 'I hate fashionistas.' But I do hate fashionistas."

Any questions?

Meanwhile, a 15-year-old model is making waves at Fashion Week.