Franca Sozzani certainly kept both busy and blogged about when she visited Sydney last month off the back of Vogue Italia’s Australia issue.
But it wasn’t just Christopher Esber and Baz Luhrman to whom she devoted her attention. While in town, Sozzani also paid a visit to Katherine Keating, the daughter of former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, to discuss an issue far more important than this season’s trendiest hem length: Water. Or, rather, the lack of it.
In answer to Keating’s question, “As the editor in chief of Italian Vogue, how do you use the magazine to address broader social issues, and what are the issues that are most important to you?” Sozzani explained the link between Australia and Africa, the last continent to find itself the focus of Italian Vogue’s global issues.
“My effort is to use the magazine not for a social or political or monetary way, but just to present how you could see things in a different way,” she told Keating. “I made an issue about Africa, but I made it in a very social way.”
If you hadn’t noticed, Sozzani has a rather consequence-ignoring way of confronting important issues. (You'll remember her graphic treatment of domestic violence in the particularly gory editorial she featured recently.) Franca's influence clearly goes beyond fashion. The 64-year-old EIC is also a Goodwill Ambassador for Fashion 4 Development, which supports the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.
“The main problem is water. Water is before everything. It is before food – before anything is water,” she explained to Keating. Her “new obsession” led her to a meeting with the representative of an Australian company that produced desalination panels. Through talking with the company, she realized the potential of a new way of providing purified water to African children in schools, and hopefully soon, in homes. “It’s a new potential way to give water to every family. That’s my goal.”
So how does fashion play into this? Sozzani believes our industry can help alleviate poverty by providing those in struggling nations with job security, training and health insurance. Water is vital to the fashion production cycle, as is an effective way of distributing Africa-made materials.
The interview was part of Keating’s One On One web series, a run of five-minute interviews with innovators in fields ranging from fashion to business and politics. She’s on the other end of the interview in this month’s Vogue Australia.