Franca Sozzani on Curvy Girls, Sensuality & More Body Types in Fashion

Tara, Candice & Robyn | Steven Meisel | Vogue Italia June 2011 | ‘Belle Vere’ AOC Private Studio

Vogue Italy editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani has blogged about her June 2011 Steven Meisel cover shoot, lensed by Steven Meisel. It’s a raging success here at AOC, and I’ve written my thoughts in Private Studio.

Franca Sozzani has properly grounded this conversation where it belongs — in the trend I call Fashion Monasticism, a desexualized view of women advanced by Karl Lagerfeld and several other almost exclusively male designers.

In the pursuit of an asexual, cooly intellectual, non-pornified but also sensually downsized vision of women, fashion has disempowered women differently — but to the same degree — as the pornographers. Both have created images of women that deny HER innate sensuality.

In both extremes, man has the power and both are equally unfeminist, just as the Vatican and monotheism are unfeminist. Given Mr Lagerfeld’s hiring of good friend Carine Roitfeld to style Chanel’s Fall 2011 campaign, it appears that the digital hammering of writers is being heard.

Based on the early images, Roitfeld will set Chanel straight before the brand’s reputation truly suffers.

I have always respected Franca Sozzani’s willingness to put fashion into the forays of activism, even if she is frequenly misunderstood in politically-correct America. The challenge is, of course, where Sozzani walks her talk in the future.

In the case of ‘Belle Vere’, both Vogue Italia’s words and her editorial vision — delivered by a wonderful team of models and creative talent on the shoot — are a gift to women and men globally, who understand that KL’s theory of ‘not an ounce of fat’ and size 0 women are the only beauty standard (the rest are jealous, potato chip eating mommies) is one of the most damning metaphors for modern, 21st century women uttered by the French intelligensia, which I hold in high regard most days.

My personal belief, based on much research and my own journey to self love and a healthy body over the past decade, is that there are many reasons why American women are overweight and we are responsible for much of the problem. 

I hold the fashion industry responsible for promoting a new vision of beauty so extreme that only five percent of women can hope to achieve it, and that includes Asia. Healthy, sexy size 4-6 women like Turlington, Crawford, Schiffer, Campbell and company in the 80s and 90s were just too much wonderfulness for some men to handle.

When the fashion industry says no breasts, no hips, and a total boy body are the beauty standard for discriminating women who care about themselves, it’s difficult for any living, breathing sensual woman not to not hate herself in the mirror.

Physical assets treasured for centuries in more open-minded, sensual societies than today’s fashion world, are suddenly a disgusting turnoff. And they wonder why we eat! Or why we choose not to live a life of total sensual denial, as Lagerfeld admits he does. No food, no alcohol and only sex with escorts. He calls it self-discipline

Here is Franca’s Vogue Italia blog post on the ‘Belle Vere’ editorial:

The magazine is not officially out yet, but questions on the reason behind the title Belle Vere (Truly Beautiful Women) have already arrived, along with another question: if these women are more beautiful, more beautiful compared to whom? First of all, this title has been conceived to raise controversy and to start a discussion. It’s clearly a thought-provoking title. And, most of all, it doesn’t want to defend anybody. I’m referring to the June issue of Vogue Italia, with a cover and an opening editorial featuring curvy women. Curvy is sexy: this is the message. These are women with voluptuous bodies and soft curves.

Sexy, because curves have always been a symbol of well-being and beauty, since antiquity. “You are so beautifully slim” is one of the most appreciated compliments of our times and it has been such since the 60s, when slimness started being interpreted as a reference code for the only possible form of beauty. Nowadays, a sex symbol for many generations, a timeless icon of beauty and femininity like Marilyn Monroe would be considered curvy. And what about Jane Mansfield or Elizabeth Taylor?

Beautiful, curvaceous, famous and loved by important men. Weren’t they “belle vere”? Sure, this is not the only possible view on beauty, because beauty is multi-faceted. Tall, petite, shapely or skinny: there are admirers for all types of women. The body of a voluptuous woman is fascinating for the proportions and curves that other women don’t have. The erotic fantasies described by great writers are often about women with this body type.

There are many novels and movies about the topic, so why have we devoted the cover, part of the issue and columns to this type of beauty? We’ve always been criticised because we publish pictures of super-skinny women only, so this time I’d like to be criticised because there are very curvy women on the cover of the magazine. And I’d also like to underline that sensuality is not related to size, it’s quite the opposite. And that beauty doesn’t follow preconceived standards. Everyone should be happy with his or her own body, without paying attention to trends and to what aesthetic prejudices impose as a rule.

No conditioning. Curvy today. Slim tomorrow. And the same it’s true for covers and models. Freedom of expression. There’s room for many different women, for everybody actually!