updated 24 Nov 2012, 08:49
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Tue, Oct 30, 2012
The New Paper
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Fashion needs new blood
by Yeoh Wee Teck

Vogue Italia's editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani is intimidating.

The 62-year-old is slight but her aura towers over everyone.

She is the woman behind the most innovative and revered edition of Vogue. What appears in Vogue Italia now will appear in a few months in other fashion publications.

Sozzani was in Shanghai last week to be the head judge for the Triumph Inspiration Award - an annual design competition organised by the lingerie maker for design students.

Sozzani's face is not expressive although her body language speaks volumes. At one point during the meandering press conference, she sits back and presses the back of her fingers against her mouth, eyes narrowed to slits - evidently displeased at the snail-like pace of events.

And during the gala show later that night, Sozzani spent half the show giving herself a manicure with her eyes. When we sit down for our interview, however, the moment I mention her well-known support for young talent, she sits up, fully alert.

She explains her passion: "We need the new blood. We cannot be closed. We cannot be talking about the same people again."

Sozzani declares the young would bring change. "They will give you some great interesting point of view," she says.

"They are young, they have no money, they need to be supported. And we can support in terms of exposure, in terms of contest, in terms of suggestions."

The New Paper on Sunday showed Sozzani campaign and runway images of several emerging Singapore brands.

Looking at the images from Reckless Ericka, Two of Us, Max Tan, Mae Pang and Depression, Sozzani was non-committal.

She said: "No one of them is bad or good. It's an evolution."

Sozzani reminded the designers: "It's not that you have to be commercial but you have to wear it. It's not just about being creative.

"Everybody can be creative and be fun and very extravagant and eccentric, but who will wear the clothes after? One person or 100 people? That is what you have to ask yourself."

And at the Triumph Inspiration Award, Sozzani and her team of judges (including fashion designer Matthew Williamson and Hong Kong singer Karen Mok) voted British fashion student Sian Whitefoot as the winner. Italy came in second and Hungary was third.

Although Singapore's entry for the Triumph Inspiration Award didn't place, Josiah Chua's piece caught Sozzani's eye.

She said: "I like Chile, Greece and the Singapore piece is quite stunning.

"It was very dramatic and like a costume. It was a nice piece and I like the contrast of the opulent and simple."

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