Results tagged “Vogue Italia” from one management blog
As it is when visiting the realm of fantasy in your dreams, so too was it when entering the compound of Franca Sozzani's home in Paris. Being welcomed into her inner sanctum felt like the golden ticket into a rarely visited world of impeccable taste and elegant style. Only moments into our conversation, I found myself in awe of her wisdom, intelligence and absolute clarity on any given subject upon which we stumbled. In an era where fame and influence are granted for extreme and short periods of time, longevity is a more rare and valuable trait than ever before. Having been the editor-in-chief of the Italian edition of VOGUE since 1988, this incredibly educated and inspiring woman provided an interview that I, nor anyone who reads it, will soon forget. Listening to her speak on the subjects of the digital era and visual languages alone, shows just what instinct has kept Franca Sozzani in her position of power for so long.
Christopher Michael: You have been the editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue since
1988. What sort of demands do you find yourself facing today that you did not
have to deal with then?
Franca Sozzani: The fashion system has completely changed, so what was
twenty-two years ago has nothing to do with today. Then, Italian Vogue was
called the first experimental magazine. We didn't even have so much sex in the
beginning, but people were so conservative then that we were always dubbed
the "experimental" magazine, and for the first two years, we suffered for this.
Italian Vogue is an Italian magazine; it's written in Italian, a language that is
only spoken in Italy, so my idea was that in order to become international, we
had to develop a visual language. At the time, photographers were appreciated,
but not perceived as the artists or image-makers that they are today. Today, all
magazines are hyper-visual--you buy any magazine and it's one image after
another. But we were the first magazine to prioritize the images--and this was,
of course, before digital photography! Back then, we were always working on
the lighting, and sending prints back and forth by Federal Express. Now you put
images up on an FTP, and the next day you are already able to do the layout.
Before computers, we did our layouts with tape and scissors. That seems like it
was 200 years ago, but the big change has really been in the last ten or twelve
CM: Speaking of the visual language, another interesting choice you've made
is the unprecedented ongoing relationship between Vogue Italia and Steven
Meisel. It has to be asked, what reason was behind your decision to use one
photographer for all of your covers for so long?
FS: I needed to have a consistent, recognizable look to every cover. My idea was
that even if you took the word "Italia" off, you know what Vogue Italia is. Many
magazines don't seem to have a connection between one cover and the next,
and it becomes hard to tell them apart. Especially today--images can be printed
in such a high quality, but that also flattens them out, in a way. There's a similar
problem in fashion. Everyone can buy clothes--the most accessible clothes are
not of the best quality, but unless you look at the label, you don't know who it's
by. It's this kind of oversaturation that makes me believe we are on the brink of
another huge change.
CM: Italian Vogue, now more than ever, has really become a global brand. Do
you believe that the time when markets were regional and separate is over? That
we are becoming one global market?
FS: No. I believe that even today, there's still an appreciation for the different
system, or attitude, that each country has. What is surprising to me is how
Vogue Italia is being appreciated in China, India, Korea, and Japan. This does
not happen to every magazine. Sure, American Vogue has that, but they are an
institution. Italy is not as powerful, but I think our international popularity goes
back to your first question. The big difference between then and today is how
much more conversant people are in visual language now. We can communicate
because the language is no longer limited to words. It's spoken in images.
CM: Due to economics, many publishers want their magazine editors to work
within safer creative boundaries. Vogue Italia seems to have managed to
continue allowing its photographers the same creative freedom. How have you
managed to maintain that?
FS: Most of the photographers at Italian Vogue--Bruce Weber, Paolo Roversi,
Peter Lindbergh--they started with me. We have a special relationship, because
we all started together. Even with people like Tim Walker and Craig McDean--
we've been working together for so long, and there is a trust that develops in
that kind of working relationship. Condé Nast gives you freedom. If you don't
disappoint them while using that freedom, you are able to keep it, and I've been
there for twenty-five years.
CM: You write on your own blog every day. What was the catalyst for starting it?
FS: When we started the website, I was sure that we could find a distinct
language for the web, which was not the same as the magazine. What is the
difference? In a monthly magazine, you have time to think about the images,
to figure out how to make the layouts, and all of that. The web is exactly the
opposite: it's quick and it has to be out. I thought that if I were to do a blog, I
would again take the responsibility for developing a voice, as I did with creating
the visual language for the magazine. I thought I could make it about more
than just fashion--it could be about television, news, scandal--but I would take
responsibility for what I say on it. I don't want to destroy the image of anyone,
and I always try to stand by what I say. As a result of my work with fashion and
photography, I have credibility with a certain audience, and I can use that to
branch out into different subjects. It doesn't mean that I don't get attacked from
time to time, but on a blog, you can have a dialogue with your critics.
I think it's very important to take responsibility for what you say. Whenever you
do something publically, you will have critics-- when I started at Vogue, people
were always saying things. I like the opportunity to have dialogue, but first I have
to expose myself and take the risk. It can be very tiring--I write six days a week.
But the site has been successful, with over one million unique hits this month
alone. It's been great.
CM: Your approach to fashion goes beyond the clothes. It seems to be a
very culturally aware, or even philosophical approach. Is this something you
consciously cultivate? Or is that just the way you experience fashion?
FS: When we talk about fashion, we should have two different points of view.
There are people who are very creative--they make fashion. And there are
people who are really good with product--they make style. When someone is
very creative, even if their work doesn't sell, follow them. They are opening up a
new way. When you are talking about style--or styling--it's different. Anyone can
do styling, and make a "correct" show. But a creative show relies on thousands
of little ideas underneath the surface. It's very important to see this difference.
Because instead of focusing on one "fashion," you focus instead on different
You should not be provocative all the time, because if you are provocative all
the time, people get tired of it. To be provocative every month means that you
have to say the opposite of the issue from the month before. So you become
unreliable. If you address the different kind of women that will always exist--the
romantic, the chic, the perverse, the sexy--you encompass all of the fashion
that you see. So I mix the two, the creatives and the people who are good with
product, this brings something for each kind of woman; this is what I do.
CM: What is the selection process for you when it comes to introducing new
photographers and stylists to the magazine?
FS: Instinct. I do, or I don't. When we started the website, I almost did the whole
thing with interns. There are so many young, talented people, who have a great
energy, an interesting approach. They see things a different way. I meet people
and if I like them, I hire them and it starts this way.
CM: When you were growing up and in school, is this what you always dreamed
FS: No. When I was in school I didn't even think about working. I thought I would
get married, have children. I was in university and really loved to study, I loved
art and books. I was never a disco girl. I believe in fate, I guess--things just
happen the way they are meant to.
CM: And your charity work with Child Priority?
FS: The charity and the young talent, these are two things that I spend a lot of
time on. The young talent especially because I think that a new generation has
to come; we can't keep our seats forever. The more talented people there are
around me, the less work there is for me to do because they are good. Young
designers, young photographers, it's good to have new blood, a new generation
and they know that what I promise, I always maintain. I'm not interested in doing
a contest where you win and you go home and make your mother's day, but
then nothing happens. I'm interested in a structure that provides young talent
with opportunity so that they can do consulting and earn money. All of the people
we've helped through the charity by providing job opportunities are still working
in their fields six years later, and they made it through the economic crisis.
You must be creative of course, but today you also need to have a sense of
media, and be able to talk to people. You need to be able to make a business
plan, and understand what is the focus of your line, of your work. It's like having
thousands of children and watching them grow up. It's amazing, we put certain
new designers who were selling in only a few cities on Yoox.com--and all of a
sudden, they are able to reach shoppers in fifty different countries.
CM: I hate to ask such a banal question, but I feel I must--do you feel that the
web threatens your print sales?
FS: Not at all. I believe the website is doing a great job because it functions as
a teaser for the magazine. September, October, and November our sales were
up twenty-seven percent, and this is because of the web. Everyone has this idea
that online will kill print, but it's not true. Like everything else, it depends on how
you do things..
Glen Luchford is the creator of some of the most cinematic imagery in Fashion Photography today and in addition gives some really great sound bytes. While we all serve an industry that seems to be pregnant with revolution, listening to the thoughts of one who's lived through a number of significant changes in the business is a more than welcome pastime. Fantasizing about the glorious tales told and all the while intrigued by one man's ability to remain current and always evolving, I couldn't get enough of Glen's opinions on the subjects we all seem to be contemplating on a daily basis. Photographer and philosopher, he left me with much to think about and filled with excitement on the possibilities of what explosive change will arrive next.
Christopher Michael: What did the beginning of Glen Luchford the photographer look like?
Glen Luchford: I was living in Brighton at the time and a lot of my friends were fashion students at the college there who were obsessively collecting blitz and i-D magazine, so I was really surrounded by that whole thing. I used to buy The Face and one of my friends was going to go up and show their collection to the magazine so I said "Well I'll go with you." It was at a time where you could just walk in and meet the art director and it wasn't such a big deal, unlike now. I used to hang around there and try and get a meeting, then David Bradshaw said to me, "Oh you should get a job as an assistant and he ended up taking me on a photo shoot. The photographer said you can assist me but I won't pay you, so I did that which lasted about a week and then he fired me because I kept looking through the camera. (laughs) The day I was fired I was walking home and could see flashlights going off on Old St so I went and banged on the door and asked if they were looking and got a job that way, it was kind of like that in the 80′s. That lasted about two weeks then I got fired from that guy and ended up meeting Norman Watson who was working with Ray Petri at the time doing all the buffalo stuff. I worked with him for about a year, catching the whole end of that was interesting, then Norman fired me. I wasn't a very good assistant because I never wanted to do the work; I just wanted to watch all the time. I think they thought I was lazy but really I just wanted to learn and watch so I could absorb everything.
CM: Well clearly you did, at which point did that turn into your first commission for a magazine?
GL: Well I eventually went back to The Face and that was when Karl Templer was just starting to work there, the art director showed my pictures to him and wanted us to do some pictures together, so we did. Actually, just prior to that, I gave them the number of the local nightclub I used to hang out at in Brighton because I didn't have a telephone at the time, and they ended up leaving a message. So I called them back and they said "Tomorrow you have to photograph this band called the Stone Roses" which I'd never heard of, they had just done their first demo tape. I was thinking "shit, how can I take a good picture of an LA rock band?" So I hired an 8 by 10 plate camera and thought that I'd do a very statuesque Avedon kind of portrait of them but I'd never used one before. The magazine had hired it for me but it was sent to the studio in a box, here I was never having done a commission before and here was this camera I didn't know how to put together, luckily this assitant in the next studio took pity on me and came in and set it up. Then the band walked in which was very confusing because they were these very handsome interesting looking guys about 20 years old rather than Guns and Roses who I was imagining in my head, so I realized I made a mistake. Anyways, I shot 10 plates of them and they are still some of the best pictures I ever took and the magazine loved them, after that they gave me regular commissions.
CM: So you really just learned as you went along?
GL: Pretty much everything I did after that was a disaster, I really had to make all of my mistakes in public. It took me a good couple of years to work it out but it was fantastic that they gave me the opportunity to shoot for them. In those days you were not required to use the certain girls you are now, it was about being experimental and doing something new, which was celebrated by the magazines rather than feared as it is now.
CM: Do you see a difference of breed between your generation and the arrival of digital reliant photographers today?
GL: Well recently I was working with this advertising client and there was an enormous wall of people that wanted to have an opinion on what we were doing. So after all of the work that I had done with the Art Director for the weeks prior and the whole day of pre lighting, it was all scrapped by this plethora of individual opinions who all had a different idea of what would be good for their market. I think in a situation like that, if you don't have a good understanding of lighting and such, it can be quite the disaster. Prior to the arrival of digital, photographers had to learn those skills so that still makes a difference. What's happening now of course, which is definitely going to separate the men from the boys is you have to shoot stills and film at the same time. Suddenly you're expected to be a cinematographer and a photographer, in the last two seasons we've been expected to deliver the film and stills all in an 8 hour day.
CM: I thought it was really funny and also a little balsy what you said in that interview with Another magazine, which was that you were not so sure you liked that everyone was doing moving image. I think that most people would be afraid to say that because they wouldn't want to be less appealing to the clients who are commissioning now....but also the fact that everyone in the film industry sort of turns their nose up at the idea of fashion photographers tackling the moving image medium and you already having done a short film, so what is it that you don't like about moving image in fashion?
GL: Basically it's just that the constraints are getting tighter and tighter, every new level of stress that they put on the situation means less creativity. I hate myself for saying it because it sounds so romantic to look back and go 'oh the 80′s and the 90′s when we went with 10 rolls and nobody was in the studio but hair, make up, model, stylist and photographer. That was it and you just had fun for 2 days in the studio. It was a great time, but at the same time, at that period we were all just moaning about what shit it was in comparison to the 70′s so I hate myself for saying it now. When you are in a situation where you have to live out so much in such a short period of time, the girls and the objective changes, it's not about how much time you'll get to be creative, it's about how much time you'll get to achieve all this stuff and if there is any time left at the end to do something creative then you're lucky. Creativity is now a luxury bi-product. I believe that the clients are going to start putting more of a value on the film and they will create an extra day for it, that will be more interesting because they will be prepared for it and have more money for it and ultimately more respect for it. You'll be able to do the photography and then think about the film portion separately, up until now it's not been done that way, it's all just being shoved on to the end.
CM: Speaking of film, your photography always has a cinematic feel to it, are you big on references or is that just your natural aesthetic?
GL: I do reference films a lot but I've been trying to move away from that because I've done it for so long and it gets tedious looking at the same thing over and over again. You can't be a photographer anymore you have to be an image maker which means that you can work in any genre, just learning photography skills is now only 50% of it. I was reading this interview with Wes Craven and he said, "When I teach film making, I'm never looking for film makers, because a really good film maker has such a strange unusual group of skills. You have to be a really good people person and you have to be a diplomat and you have to be able to do all of these things in order to get 50 or 100 people to do what you want and you have to be a dictator and a mother to someone and have lighting skills and it's this big odd mix." So I then wonder when you're at these schools where they are teaching kids photography, if they have made that transition in teaching them now that this isn't going to be enough. It's now turning into something very very different. What people have realized is that just being a model, photographer or editor or whichever is no longer enough. In order to sustain something, you really need to turn yourself into a brand, which Terry [Richardson] has done very well, Olivier [Zahm] also. It's a commodity basically, so I'm a bit divided about that because on one hand it's sort of become the norm and once something becomes the norm people tend to backlash against it, but on the other hand if you don't brand yourself then you don't have longevity so is everyone then going to be forced into a situation where you have to start being more than a name on the bottom of a page.
CM: Wow, well when you put it like that...
GL: There was a period of time where all of those photographers were not really obsessed with the past they were just interested in trying something new whether it worked or not; and the industry was just looking for something different so it opened a few doors of opportunity. I also think that Margaret Thatcher had a really enormous effect on my generation because it was so stifling and the country was in such dire straits in the 70′s. She really supported the rich and middle classes, the schools became over populated, there was a lot of unemployment and there was this whole feeling of political strife to the individual, a lot of chaos was going on. So her gift, if you want to call it, to everyone was the realization of "Well the state is not going to take care of you so you better start taking care of yourself," and they started this scheme which was called the enterprise allowance scheme. If you start up your own company you get a thousand pounds and they will help you sustain that to see if they could inspire people to get thinking and create new business. That mentality really got absorbed by everyone around at that time, nobody really spoke about money. It was "can I make money doing something that I love to do every single day, rather than ending up in a factory somewhere?" Or basically getting another job. So to be able to work for The Face magazine and get paid 100 pounds for a picture was an amazing feat, it felt like a real luxury, plus I got my allowance money so it was great.
CM: And that was what really woke up the creative minds and efforts of the then arriving generation in England?
GL: It really installed fear in people and made them start fighting for themselves. I think that everyone that came out of that period became really ambitious and all of the photographers and stylists that came out of that time were really really driven, I never heard people talking about money, it was always about ideas and being creative. I remember giving a talk in London and I gave this whole slide show at the end of which I asked if anyone had a question and this one kid put up his hand and said "when I do my first advertising campaign, how much can I expect to make?" I said "Based on that question, you are never going to make it because if you are doing it for money it will never happen. You should really be eating sleeping and drinking fashion photography day and night, the money is irrelevant, you do it for love or you're just never going to make it." The point of focus has shifted and has suddenly become really corporate in its mentality and again I'm falling into the trap of romanticizing the past but it wasn't like that before, there was not a lot of money kicking around so you did it because you really loved it.
CM: I'd like to think that same principle applies to now when so many are struggling to get into an over saturated industry, the most passionate no doubt have to rise to the top...
GL: The fashion industry like everything else is mutating, so quickly that it's not what it was even 5 or 10 years ago. I think you need to accept that and get on with it or move over to another industry. I think in my generation there were very few photographers wanting to be fashion photographers which a lot of them stayed, some went off and did other things. Now, there are 100′s of thousands of people that want to be a photographer. A friend of mine who teaches at the London School of Fashion said, in the late 90′s early 2000′s, everyone wanted to be a fashion designer and nobody wanted to be a photographer and now it's the complete opposite. There is a bit of a chicken or the egg thing going on right now. Before, nobody was trying to do what was in the magazines, they were trying to do their own thing, whereas now you look at young photographers' books and it's their effort to imitate what is already in the magazines. So the question is, are the photographers forced into a situation by the magazines to deliver that sort of work otherwise they are not interesting? Or is it that everyone has decided that it's best to just try and imitate what is happening to see if they are able to break into it. It's a hard question to answer.
READ THE LATEST INTERVIEW WITH SANTE AT http://www.vogue.it/en/people-are-talking-about/art-photo-design/2010/12/sante-d-orazio
Q: One of my favorite things about you is your blunt way of speaking laced with the English accent, and yet you've claimed to be shy... how does that work?
A: I think it is important to say what you feel. I have never been good at small talk. When I shoot portraits I can talk Non-Stop as I feel a different person behind the camera. I also like to listen to people who speak their mind and express themselves freely.
Q: I've seen a few Still life photographers whose work is incredibly beautiful, but it is not the most common for such Photographers to turn around and shoot a model with as much precision and beauty as they do an object. You however seem to be capable of executing a consistent amount of beauty regardless of what your subject is..Aside from what we would assume as the obvious differences, how do you approach a photo differently in these two scenarios?
A: For me working with a model usually involves collaborating with a team. I like experimenting with hair and make up to change the face. To this day it still amazes me to see the transformation that is possible with still life, it becomes about looking at what you have in front of you. I look at trying to find the essence of the object. Unlike beauty, still life stays much closer to what it is and photographing still life can often become rather mechanical. You choose to light it by experience or even by what you have at your disposal. Recently I have tried to not make it look like it was lit in a studio. Still life photographers seem to use the same light and take fewer creative decisions.
Q: You've said before that when you do portraits you go in having your own opinion of the person and manipulate the shot into the way you see them, a favorite was your regal and dignified portrait of the Grand Madamme Vivienne Westwood...what is a personal favorite of such portraits for you?
A: This is much harder a question than it sounds. These days I rarely shoot portraits and I find it impossible to take a picture without an opinion and without extensive research. I like a picture that I did of Matthew Barney. I wanted to manipulate his appearance in some way like he does in his own work. Too shy to ask directly I chose to skirt around the issue. Anyway, he turned up with this plastic of sorts and his intention was to place his hand in the plastic. I let that go for a minute and then told him to push his face into it. I like this photo a lot and the experience holds great memories.
Q: The October Vogue Italia beauty story by you and Nicoletta Santoro left us with a beauty Cover that I could picture hanging on my Wall as an incredible Painting, what type of Art may we find hanging around on your walls?
A: I have 2 pieces by Adam Fuss, but they are leaning up against the wall. I also have a beautiful picture taped to a wall of Tilda Swinton that I ripped out of a magazine.
Q: There is something really great about torn out magazine pictures taped to a wall, brings you back to the high school days and collages all over the bedroom walls or something.... Lately there have been a lot of articles and heated discussions on the subject of re touching, so much so that France has even considered including a 'credits' section on the page stating what alterations had been made to the photo. As someone who considers re touching nearly as important as photography and comparable to hair and make up, where do you stand on this new wave of Re touching Ridicule?
A: Why do people find this controversial? I don't see photography as real or truthful in the first place. It's all manipulation and a huge Lie. I have gone too far in some cases looking for something pushed to the limit. It's like plastic surgery, too much is hideous. It is a Valuable tool, the trick is how to use it.
Q: Well Said. As an artist, there is always a driving force at the base of one's work....Anxiety, frustration, passion, ambition, curiosity....what would be the word to sum up the root of your cause?
Q: A tidbit of info that many may not know and quite a claim to fame in it's own right is the fact that it was none other than Alexander Mcqueen who designed the wedding outfits at your Marriage...how is it that one gets Mcqueen to Custom design their Wedding outfits?
Q: Your beauty photography is renown and unlike the typical aesthetic in most beauty photographers casting, your girls tend to be special and different and of a more 'edgy' or 'quirky' nature...what quality draws you most to a model when making decisions on casting?
A: I look at their books to see how much of a chameleon they are.