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Going rogue at Vogue

(Shanghai Daily)

16:41, November 18, 2011

Vogue Italia's "Black" issue in July 2008 is filled entirely with black models and articles on black culture and lifestyle.

Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani didn't get to the top by playing it safe and going for glamor. She got there through creativity and controversy, being contrarian, witty and often political.

In her 23 years at the helm of Vogue Italia, Sozzani has been known for doing the unexpected and flying in the face of convention. She's made a fortune through her audacity and insight on hot-button topics, and won a huge personal following that reads her blog on and follows her on Twitter.

Critics say she's into stunts, not fashion. She doesn't care.

She drenched models and the latest fashions in crude oil in August 2010 after the BP oil spill, posing them on a polluted beach. She was accused of glamorizing tragedy. This summer, as the world worshipped stick-thin models, her "Dream Women" or "Curvy" issue featured three-plus-size models, some in lingerie and braless as they drank Champagne, smoked cigarettes and draped themselves over fancy furniture. She has called on governments to take down pro-anorexia websites.

While the world worshipped tall blond East European models, she came out with the "Black" issue in July 2008, filled entirely with black models and articles on black culture and lifestyle. She featured machine-gun toting models in black leather for the "State of Emergency" in September 2006- and was accused of making light of terrorism. In September 2009 featured Rihanna in bondage gear for an "Extreme Couture" issue.

To name a few.

It all worked. Sozanni has transformed Vogue Italia from a domestic trade publication into the world's most influential fashion magazine, despite its relatively small circulation of 140,000 (compared with the 1.3 million readership of the more commercial American Vogue).

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