Carla Sozzani changed the art and fashion scene as an Italian gallerist by creating 10 Corso Como in Milan 25 years ago, the first concept store in history. After working as a fashion editor for Vogue Italy and launching the Italian Elle magazine, she quit her job to focus on the arts. She had the vision of a “living magazine”– bringing together a bookshop, a gallery, a café, an exquisite fashion and design store, and a little boutique hotel with just three rooms. This calm space where creativity meets communication is located in an old garage in a backyard of Milan. That’s where we meet this petite woman with her pioneering spirit, her inky voice and the smile of a little girl.
When you opened 10 Corso Como, did you expect this place to be so important for the art and fashion scene?
No. Actually I didn’t have any plans and I got into retail unconsciously, without knowing what it meant. I just wanted a place where I could communicate with people. Because I worked as a fashion journalist and doing a magazine was all I knew. But by that time I had become disappointed, because there was no internet, no blogs and no direct communication with your readers. All you could do was guess by the advertisements if you were successful or not. So there was nothing that was approaching visitors and customers directly. And that was all I wanted to create with 10 Corso Como.
You’ve put on exhibitions with Peter Lindbergh, Mario Testino, Nick Knight and Juergen Teller. But the whole concept started just with a gallery focused on photography, didn’t it?
The whole concept is about culture and commerce. At first I wanted to have my own little museum. That was the point of the project, and so I started my Gallery Carla Sozzani. And then we opened the bookstore, the café and the shop. And now I’m into every detail here. Sometimes I’ll come in at night and change things like the dresses in the windows.
What is important for you when you look at a photo?
Black and white is for photography, colours are for paintings.
How do you think art and fashion work together today?
It’s more organised than it used to be in former times. Everybody wants artists to make products for fashion designers through collaborations and little projects. But mixtures of the arts and fashion projects like the ones Elsa Schiaperelli or Salvatore Ferragamo created, they don’t exist anymore. Now, though, art and fashion are growing back together again, even if they never really left each other.
Read the full interview by Gloria von Bronewski in PLATEA ISSUE 03 Winter 2016/17, available online and at selected stores and newsstands worldwide. Photography by Victor Santiago.