The legend of Vogue Italia

Its archive and the birth of a world icon

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
The legend of Vogue Italia — Lombardia Secrets

A brand that has not only made the history of fashion but has also created its collateral creative industry, such as fashion photographers, from Meisel to Testino.

Vogue was born in New York, founded by Arthur Baldwin Turnure in 1892, initially as a magazine dedicated to telling the life of New York high society. In 1909 the turning point: it was bought by the young lawyer Condé Montrose Nast who, after having worked as an advertising manager for various publications, sensed the enormous potential of the advertising industry. He will then make Vogue the flagship of what will become one of the most influential publishing houses in the world, the Condé Nast Group.

In fact, Vogue soon became a point of reference for the nascent world fashion industry, a step also dictated by its legendary directors, strong and visionary women who were able to adapt the pages of the magazine to the evolution of women in society. From Diana Vreeland (1963-1971) who abandons the bon ton image of the wealthy classes to embrace a more sensual and provocative fashion symbol of freedom, it is no coincidence that she will become a great friend of Coco Chanel, to Anna Wintour who manages to democratize fashion industry creating a strong link between the magazine and companies, also from a commercial point of view.

The legend of Vogue Italia — Lombardia Secrets
The legend of Vogue Italia — Lombardia Secrets

Vogue Italia was born with its current name in 1966, initially under the direction of Franco Sartori who raised its image making it more similar to the American edition and starting to work with the most important photographers and creatives. After her death, in 1988 was appointed director Franca Sozzani who had started her career in the Condè Nast Group almost by chance, as editor of Vogue Bambini.

It is to her and her collaborators that we owe the Italian myth of Vogue, having taken on an autonomous, more artistic and conceptual dimension, among the various international editions of the magazine, as well as having “invented” some of the major fashion photographers to the world, when this term did not even exist as a profession yet. This is perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of Vogue: not being “just” a magazine but a real factory of talents, companies, businesses.
Together with Flavio Lucchini, the magazine’s historical Art Director, Franca Sozzani will create the myth of Italian fashion as we know it today at the Vogue headquarters in Piazza Castello in Milan. And the anecdotes are truly endless.

The legend of Vogue Italia — Lombardia Secrets
The legend of Vogue Italia — Lombardia Secrets

Together they were responsible for the discovery of Steven Meisel whom Franca met by chance in NY. Meisel at the time taught fashion illustration at Parsons and it is thanks to his collaboration with Vogue that he will become one of the industry’s iconic photographers, holding the role of sole head of the cover of Vogue Italia for fifteen years.

Mario Testino also began his collaboration with Condé Nast Italia always by chance in NY. The young photographer showed up in Franca’s apartment to show her her portfolio and there, while taking her shopping because she needed the hair conditioner, they started talking about a collaboration. This lucky chat led him to become one of the greatest collaborators of Vogue Italia.

Giovanni Gastel, “poet of photography and photographer of poetry“, as he called himself, in the early 1980s at the age of 25 began working with Vogue “thanks” to a quarrel. While he was in the waiting room to see Lucchini, Gastel witnessed, in fact, an argument between him and Oliviero Toscani, then one of the magazine’s main photographers, who went away slamming the door and yelling at Lucchini that he would have found himself in large trouble without him. The famous Lucchini’s reply was: “How will I do without you? I’ll take the first photographer I find ”and that was Gastel standing outside the door.

The legend of Vogue Italia — Lombardia Secrets

Even the most famous designers are linked to the history of the magazine. Legendary in the early 1970s was Giorgio Armani’s visit to Lucchini ‘s office in Piazza Castello to tell him that he wanted to start with his own brand. It was Luchini who gave him a lot of advice and created the logo of the Armani’s Maison, composed using the same font, the Bodoni, also utilized for the writing of Vogue.

The historic headquarters of Vogue Italia, in Piazza Castello 27, hosted an exciting exhibition dedicated to the magazine’s first 50 years in 2015. On that occasion, the walls were completely covered, like wallpaper, with over 200 giant murals of the most famous images that have made the history of costume. One of the most exciting chapters in the history of Italian fashion, which you can see here in some shots.

How to enter the legend? Today you can view the entire digital archive of Vogue Italia, from 1964 to today. An inestimable treasure of services, photographs, articles, advertising campaigns that have really made history.

Useful Info

Vogue Magazine
Vogue Archivio 

The legend of Vogue Italia — Lombardia Secrets

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