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France, and Fashion, Honors Franca Sozzani

Godfrey Deeny
March 15th, 2012 @ 11:10 AM - Paris

France and the Gotha of European fashion has honored Franca Sozzani, the famed editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue, who was awarded the Legion d’Honneur at the Elysèes Palace in Paris by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

“I am very truly gratified for this honour that France has wished to bestow upon me. It will be another incentive to carry on my mission as the Ambassador of Fashion,” said a clearly proud Sozzani, who besides running Italian Vogue for over three decades is also United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for development of fashion worldwide.

“My goal is to make this world more accessible by helping new designers, creative artists and technicians, enabling them to work anywhere in the world under the finest conditions in order to release their talent,” added Sozzani, who wore a black cocktail dress embroidered in gold bullion by Dolce & Gabbana from their recent “sexy widow” collection to the palace on Wednesday night, March 14.

Accompanied by his wife Carla Bruni, Sarkozy praised Sozzani as “a great philosopher of the fashion world.”

“She has been having an important role in the discovery of new talents and has distinguished herself for having opened the doors of this world... French fashion has to thank this Italian editor-in chief for the support that she has brought to the fashion world in these years,” added the French president before pinning on the coveted medallion.

Earlier in the day, Italy's ambassador to France, Giovanni Caracciolo di Vietri, staged a glittering lunch in his embassy, where there was practically designer gridlock.

“One places ads in certain magazines because it's good for business. But you take ads in Italian Vogue because the editorial content is consistently great. Franca is slim, sensitive but very tough. No wonder they call her the steel angel,” a smiling Karl Lagerfeld told FWD.

“Franca is tremendously important. She has always made a beautiful magazine, but it's always one that tries to break boundaries, venture into new terrains. Even on the web; how many other magazines have as clever a website as Italian Vogue? Hard to think of anyone,” stressed Suzy Menkes, fashion's single most famous critic.

“Franca has supported us and led us for many years and she's helped us all discover fashion in a new way,” added Roberto Cavalli, who joined fellow designers Bill Gaytten, Clare Waight Keller, Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Valentino duo Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, Viktor Horsting, Rolf Snoeren, Giambattista Valli, Silvia Venturini Fendi, Angela Missoni and Anna Molinari at the table.

“For us Italians this is a special day,” beamed Diesel owner Renzo Rosso, who joined the elegant throng at a suitably Spartan lunch of asparagus risotto.

In a highly laudatory address, Conde Nast International President Jonathan Newhouse - Sozzani's ultimate boss - recalled that she had joined Conde Nast with a history degree knowing little of fashion but was almost immediately recognized for her innate talent.

“Italian Vogue under Franca’s direction pushed the limits. Vogue informed, surprised, dazzled and delighted its readers and the fashion and beauty industry professionals,” argued Newhouse, who stressed Sozzani's special relationship with key photographers such as Bruce Weber or Peter Lindbergh.

“But one deserves special mention because he is Franca’s indispensable collaborator, closely identified with Italian Vogue, and he is Steven Meisel. The team of Franca and Steven is the greatest partnership in the history of fashion photography. One hundred years from now, these images will be a point of reference and will continue to be studied,” said Newhouse, in a much applauded homily.

Famously elegant, notably polite though also known for never being afraid to speak her mind, Sozzani joins an illustrious band of Italian talent to have awarded the Legion of Honour, one that includes Umberto Eco, Giorgio Armani, Carlo De Benedetti and Giorgio De Chirico.

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