The second documentary I watched during reading week was ‘Franca: Chaos and Creation’. There’s no doubt that the late Franca Sozzani is a legend in the fashion world, renowned for her controversial, yet brilliant, photo shoots that she produced during her time as Editor in Chief for Vogue Italia. Her untimely death in 2016 was heartbreaking, she had so much more to give, and the documentary captures this perfectly. Filmed over 6 years by her only child, Francesco Sozzani, we finally get an insight to who Franca Sozzani really was, from her childhood, friendships, and the people who inspired her most.
Franca grew up in Italy. She talks fondly of her childhood, mainly her father, yet she doesn’t seem to like to dwell on the past – even mentioning her disdain for nostalgia. Her first marriage is mentioned, however it was annulled after 3 months, with Franca saying she just didn’t love him. She also talks of how her child being born out of wedlock, and her being a single, working mother, was an issue at first. As a whole her love life, or lack of, is mentioned throughout the documentary, with Franca questioning what love really is. It was quite sad really, knowing she has since passed, as she talks about one day finding someone she will truly be in love with to spend the later years of her life with. However the love she has for her son, and her friends in the fashion industry is striking. Playful bickering with Francesco, her links to the Versace family and her loving words about the late Gianni, the love she had for friend/photographer Peter Lindbergh – all show that beyond her no nonsense exterior, deep down there was a softer, more vulnerable side to the Italian editor.
Another main focus, besides Franca’s personal life, is her career as a magazine editor. Never afraid to be controversial, she never strayed from the topics no other magazines wanted to cover, often with the help of photographer Steven Meisel who truly understood her unique vision. An all black model issue (so groundbreaking and important that it sealed her as one of the best ever in my mind), an issue covering oil spills in the ocean and the affect this has on wildlife, an issue showing the often gruesome reality behind plastic surgery and even an issue highlighting domestic violence – Franca covered it all in a mere fashion magazine.
This proved that fashion, whilst often deemed vapid and shallow by critics, can really be an important vocal point for actual issues that we’re currently facing. Never mind covers of nepotism models with the same boring pose over and over, Franca covered the real issues without being scared of backlash and confrontation from critics – allowing conversations to start about the topics whether the feedback of her work was good or bad.
Overall ‘Franca : Chaos and Creation’ both moved and inspired me. The loss of Franca Sozzani will always deeply impact the fashion world – she was one of a kind who really helped to start a more political movement within fashion. I find her a great role model, and I think Francesco and the way he captured her within the documentary is breathtaking. Their bond was special, and he documented her life in a way that showed how strong she is, but also gave us a glimpse at who Franca really was – an inspiring woman all round.
Until next time,
Images sourced from Vogue