Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Back to Africa

Vogue's Anna Wintour better watch out. First the world fell in love with French Vogue's Carine Roitfield. Then Russian Vogue editor Aliona Doletskaya was accidentally introduced at a party as the next editor of American Vogue. Now, Italian Vogue's Franca Sozzani is establishing herself as the Bono of the Vogue empire.

The fashion industry has long been under fire for the lack of diversity on runways, so Sozzani took the gauntlet and released an all-black issue of Italian Vogue this July. The special issue was a global hit, even going into reprint. Now she's dedicating November's L'Uomo Vogue, the men's magazine which she is also editor, to the continent of Africa.

Forest Whitaker and Bernard-Henri Lévy guest-edited the issue which will focus more on ideas rather than make an aesthetic statement about Africa. "Fashion is not only about clothes," Sozzani told the Washington Post. According to her, it is about the notion of identity.

Unlike a recent spread in India's Vogue that caused worldwide outrage when real-life peasants were posed with thousand dollar handbags, Sozzani has avoided using models all together. "I think it's ridiculous to see a 16-year-old wearing clothes he'll never afford at his age," she said. Instead of models, Quincy Jones, John Legend, Matt Damon, and Michelle Obama among others will be photographed in their own clothes.

The 40 year old L'Uomo Vogue's circulation is only 80,000, but those readers are the ones who make the big decisions in the fashion industry. Without having to pander to commercial whims, Sozzani has been able to take chances with her magazine that Anna Wintour has never done. And while some may be suspicious that Sozzani is simply trying to capitalize on the success of her All Black Issue, half of the November L'Uomo Vogue's ad revenue will go to Africa-related charities. Who says fashion is only skin deep?


Nimbus Nuage said...


I really loved this piece.
but could u provide more information regarding the outrage on the Vogue India issue that u mentioned in your article?


The Magraker said...

Hi there, thanks for checking out my blog. You can read about the controversy here and here.

Essentially I think the controversy arouse because the price of these luxury handbags and brandname umbrellas could feed one of these people's families instead of playing into rich people's vanity. But I think the outrage was heightened because this came after China's earthquake, highlighting the problems of Asia's poor.