An interview on blogging & new talent with Franca Sozzani for LLG

by Sasha Wilkins on June 9, 2011 · 18 comments

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Yesterday I met with Franza Sozzani, editor of Vogue Italia, who had landed at the Harvey Nichols flagship store in Knightsbridge to conduct the third in her series of  ‘Vogue Experiences’. They’re a clever concept, as near to a roadshow as Ms Sozzani will ever get. Essentially she asks young creatives to turn up, clutching their portfolios, and she and her team speak to each attendee, advising and talent spotting.

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It’s win win really: she gets to extend the Vogue Italia brand and to talent spot the next generation.

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Harvey Nichols did some grade A talent-wrangling of its own, and a slew of London’s editors (Sarah Mower, Katie Grand, Hilary Alexander) and designers (Erdem, Christopher Kane, Mr Blahnik, Giles Deacon and more), pitched up throughout the day to meet the young hopefuls,  dole out advice and encouragement and sit on a panel which also included a Q&A with Franca Sozzani and Lisa Armstrong.

I spoke to Franca just before the event on the Fourth Floor kicked off. The subject of blogging, since her broadside in her editor’s blog in January, where she described bloggers as ‘a viral epidemic’, seemed like a good place to start our conversation. I reminded her of my background – senior editor turned digital evangelist and then dived straight in. The word ‘blogger’ was barely mentioned before she was off like a greyhound at the traps, clearly much exercised by the subject and speaking so fast and passionately that I could barely keep up with my note taking:

“They all attack me because ‘I don’t like bloggers’. It’s not true at all: l love the bloggers. In the morning I read blogs. I look at bloggers in any fields. Blogs can be used in a very creative way and it is very inspiring for us to read blogs from different countries, different mentalities, different vision. It’s very important.”

She goes on to explain that the freedom of expression in the medium of blogging is what appeals to her, especially given the trammelled world of magazine publishing.

“I love bloggers when they talk about fashion, events, people and this way it is very clean, not like on magazines (where we) know the politics of a situation, what we have to do, what not to do.

After all, even a magazine that continually pushes boundaries like Vogue Italia still has to think of its advertisers. No ads, no mag.

It’s the issue of  blog quality control that clearly exercises Ms Sozzani and was in part responsible for her diatribe last January. She seems to be singing from the same sheet as Cathy Horyn in this regard (Cathy recently called for fashion bloggers to be more rigorous in their reporting): “When someone has the freedom (of expression they should) use it in the best way. You have to keep the distance from the people who want to use the blog to talk in a bad way about other people or stupid people or to be mean or uninformed”

“It (blogging) is a responsibility. Use it well. Sometimes better to be silent. Or find a way to explain your point of view, not just writing yes no yes no.”

We moved on to talk about the Vogue Experience and her motivation for opening up what has essentially been a closed shop.

“(Magazines) are more closed, a niche. In this way we open (our doors) and they see behind there is a person who cares. It (the Vogue Experience) is work but its the only way to find the new generation to help them”

“I love to meet young people: it’s not only that they learn from me, I learn a lot from them because they are very generous in the way they approach you. They tell you their dreams, their work. But you have to be responsible. You have to find a way, the right direction to tell them (about their work). You can’t say yes or no.”

This was the third Vogue Experience: “We did it in Milan, in Rome, and hired a lot of people. We found people who knew far more about things than we did: one, he knows everything about movies so now he writes about cinema for us…We have 70 internships from January to now from the two events. We have also photographers.”

Franca Sozzani’s closing words should hold out hope for the young talent approaching her at these events:

“If we promise: we do.”

Thank you to Franca Sozzani and to Harvey Nichols.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Alice June 9, 2011 at 04:08

That’s me in the 3rd pic with the leather jacket on! Feel very honoured to be in a photo on your blog!

Loved the Zara bag you had with you yesterday.

Alice

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LLG June 9, 2011 at 10:35

@Alice: OOh – looking all sexy & fierce?! I have another photo too. If you email me, I’ll send you both images. Thank you sweetheart for the compliment! LLGxx

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LLG June 9, 2011 at 10:36

@LLG: PS I went to uni in Newcastle too. x

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That's Not My Age June 9, 2011 at 04:10

This is such a brilliant idea – shame it couldn’t have been run in conjunction with Graduate Fashion Week.

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Rose June 9, 2011 at 04:19

This is such a good read, thanks. I also love that cover and I don’t care that the models are in lingerie really, sure it is a bit of a cliche but hey they look great and a lot of the emaciated girls who usually feature would basically not look so good with their clothes off.

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Mariella Agapiou June 9, 2011 at 04:29

A great post. Inspiring.

Lovely to hear that the editors out there are not discriminating or dismissing The Blog.

Mariella x

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Jamilla Camel June 9, 2011 at 04:35

Thanks for sharing an insider view of the mysterious fashion world!

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A Girl, A Style June 9, 2011 at 05:22

Ooh Sasha, I absolutely love this interview (and Franca herself). Thank you *so* much for sharing this!

Briony xx

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Jenni @ YourBeautyIndustry June 9, 2011 at 10:14

This is fascinating, thank you Sasha. I had read Franca’s original rant about bloggers so it is interesting to hear a follow up to this. The Vogue Experience is a fantastic idea.

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Lisa June 9, 2011 at 10:29

This was a fantastic article.. thank you so very much for taking the time to show us the inside world of fashion magazines! I truly loved reading her point of view…
Have a wonderful day!
Take care,
Lisa

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Michel Mercury June 9, 2011 at 16:00

Very interesting post Libertylondongirl tank you very much.

I got a brand new baby blog i’m still new and trying to understand this “world ” of blogs…it is very useful to know what think people like Franca.

Franca is so right, in Italy newspapers, magazines, televisions are controlled by politicians, no freedom…blogs are like an hole in this wall.

I love your blog Londongirl, is interesting and useful.

My blog is:
“Michel Mercury Art Beauty” dedicated to the art, fashion, and beauty for the life…..it is still a work in progress….one day, soon, will be good.

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S.P June 12, 2011 at 11:17

Franca is right, that’s why even when I post something as simple as an image, I try to explain why I have posted it, what I like about it etc…

I am also annoyed and upset that I missed/knew nothing about The Vogue Experience until it was too late, and I was in the area on the day as well. It would have been great to get her opinion on my work.
strut mode

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