I want to be a Sozzani

In Famous people, Fashion shows, Fashionistas, Older women on March 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I’m half-thrilled, half-peeved that the rest of the world has cottoned on to my long-held belief that the best thing about the big fashion shows has always been the audiences.

They’re such good copy I wrote a whole novel about them.

I’ve spent literally months of my life staring at Anna Wintour’s skinny shins and watching with interest how cleverly she segued her brunette bob around grey into streaked blonde (although I’m not so keen on the current auburn arrangement).

In more recent times my interest shifted to the French Vogue team, first Madame Roitfeld and then the amazing Madame Alt (see earlier post ), so I was thrilled when I discovered the excellent blogs ‘I want to be Roitfeld’ and ‘I want to be an Alt’ (see my blogroll for the links).

But ever since I went to my first Milan show, in 1989, I’ve had another style crush.

Really, I want to be a Sozzani.

Franca Sozzani (right) is the editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia. Her sister Carla (left) owns the chicest shop/gallery/restaurant in Milan, 10 Corso Como.

Although well over the age when women are supposed to cut their hair into ‘flattering’ layered bobs, they both still have very long, blonde, wavy, centre-parted hair. And it looks great.

As you can see here, it has nothing at all to do with Donatella Versace’s long blonde hair. It’s from a different planet entirely.

The secret of the Sozzani beauty is proper fine bones – not just the face, the whole body. And although Franca is now twenty years older than when I first clapped eyes on her in Romeo Gigli raw silk cigarette pants, round neck sweater, flat shoes and antique chandelier earrings, she still looks amazing. Like a Boticelli angel in a Lanvin trench.

Apart from her exquisite little pointy-chinned face, rather like the world’s most glamorous elf, and most particularly those earrings (I would so love to see her collection…), what has always fascinated me about Franca is the quietness of her style.

For someone whose magazine features some of the wildest fashion pictures in the whole Vogue stable, she is European subtlety made woman. As luxe simple as the tagliatelle served with shavings of black truffle in autumn at Alla Collina Pistoeise (my favourite restaurant in Milan).

Not for her the fashion excesses of towering platforms, bug-eye sunnies and silly bags. Always a slight shoe, a simple shift/pants/skirt/trench, a tiny clutch – and wonderful jewellery.

I even love the way she sits. The very relaxed slumpy bad posture of the properly slim and properly posh, with one pipe cleaner leg twined around the other.

I used to try and copy it, turning myself into a human pretzel as the Prada show started. (Miuccia Prada shows in a very small space, with only three or four rows of benches, and I always found it the primo people watching venue. You’re practically on Anna’s knee there.)

So far she’s not as well known as Anna, Carine, Emmanuelle and Anna dell Russo (more on her another time…) and I secretly hope it stays that way.

All the pictures with beautiful natural light on this post are by The Sartorialist.

  1. What a beautiful tribute, Maggie! Thank you so much for metioning my blogs. Also wanted to let you know about another Italian editor I am following:


  2. Oh my goodness, those black dresses are just to die for! I wan’t all of them, they are totally beautiful – classic perfection

  3. Oh the simplicity of the golden shift. The gorgeousness of the flared black dress with the opaque tights. Between you and DramaQueen (who has exellent taste), I am beginning to re-vamp my wardrobe and see a whole new era of fashion emerging for me.

  4. I love this column as well as the other one on older ladies. My cup of tea!
    I am happy brecause just added your book “Shall We Dance” and I bought it and can’t wait to read it!
    You are the best!

    • I loved Shall We Dance. I salivated over the clothing described so well that I could see it. I will say that the daughter terrified me! I have two girls, thankfully both still young enough (just) that I’m still cooler than not!

      • Yes, I did go slightly overboard with dear little Theo, but I was hoping people would understand that it was just a ‘carapace’ because she had been so hurt by her father and all the men who hit on her. But I am afraid to tell you she was partly based on some young ladies I have observed…. But yours and mine won’t be like that, I’m sure! x

  5. I have read all your books and loved them. They now sit in a very nice row in the bookshelf of my Italian house, where they are well read by my visitors. I love 10 Corso Como, it is one of my favourite shops in the world. Thank you for this post about the fabulous sisters.

    • Ah – that is so lovely, thank you. And lucky lucky you having a house in Italy… One of the things I most miss about not doing the shows any more is spending two weeks a year in Milan. I still go to Paris a lot, but I’m pining for Milano. x

  6. what wonderful style she has.
    one thing i do love about street style photography and the focus on fashion editors is that you see images of woman with fantastic style – well over the age of 30. it’s just so refreshing.

  7. No fashion victims here. Women dressing as women, not teenagers; wearing lovely things that are pulled together in a way that says, “I care about fashion, but have the confidence to wear what suits me,and merely wink at my age.”

  8. Oooh, I have a relaxed slouchy bad posture (although I am neither slim nor posh). I’ve been trying to correct it buy throwing back my shoulders a la Nicole Kidman (god, she looks weird lately), and it just thrusts out the bosom. I can now go back to non-guilty slouching. What divine ensembles, that Lanvin coat! And are those Manolo Blahnik Mary-Janes???? Lust lust.

  9. Oh, I want to be a Sozzani, too!
    I love your writing – used to buy the SMH just to read your column. Also, really enjoy your books – recently read Shall We Damce, which was just delightful. What fun creating those characters!
    Anyway, back to those Sozzanis – I particularly want those sunglasses and the shoes, and those diamond necklaces and the Lanvin, ok I want it all.

    • You are v v v kind. Please tell anyone you think might be missing my old column that they can find me here every week now – it’s hard getting the word out.

      I want the earrings most of all (and the size 6 body…. wrong, but true.) xxx

  10. I am almost finished listening to Shall We Dance. Great reader, by the way. I have now bought all of your books availabler on audio from What is a girl to do now? I will be in England in May and hope to snag available audio books by you. Oh, please forgive typos. I can’t see this pea font as I am visually-impaired, but I do have my own column here in the U.S. about our little town, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
    Now, dear Maggie and any of you fellow blog readers, give me some new suggestions for good Brit women writers so I won’t have withdraewl symptons. Very strong now. I must have some sherry.
    Thank you in advance

    • Hi Toby – so good to hear you liked that reader, as I am absolute PAIN to the audio book company about who they choose, so really great to hear it was thr right one.

      As before, I reccomend The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Which are both from 1930s/40s but brillliant. I also love everything ever written by Rosamind Lehman from the same era. Let me mull further on contemporary.

      I’m a bit careful about reading too much in my own genre, in case of unconcious influence, but I did love all India Knight’s novels, Don’t You Want Me? and My Life on a Plate. Also everything by my friend Jessica Adams who is Aussie/British.


  11. Thank you for the suggested authors. I have read and adore anything by Nancy Mitford. Must check out Dodie Smith. Yes, yes to India Knight. She’s brilliant! Will see if the good has any Jessica Adams.
    Am re-listening to Cents % Sensibility. Great title and excellent reader. I am glad you are a PAIN to the audible company. A bad reader can make a good book bad. There is nothing worse than agood British mystery ready by the flat midwestern voice of an american. Ugh!
    Loved the wrap-up to “Shall We Dance?”
    I wish all ytour novels were available on Can you make that happen?

  12. Oh Franca, thank you for not straightening your hair and showing the fashion world one can still look amazing with frizzy curls. I’m picking the diffuser over the brush when I next wash my hair!

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