Alessia Glaviano – Vogue Italia’s Senior Photo Editor
Exclusive Interview with Natalie Ragusin
This September, we invited Alessia Glaviano to sit down with us and talk about all things Vogue Italia. Glaviano is the Senior Photo Editor of Vogue Italia and L’uomo Vogue. She is recognized as one of this generation’s prominent curators and mentors regarding elements of photography. Working at Vogue for over 15 years, Glaviano curates online interviews for the Masters of Photography, she serves as a prominent jury member on multiple art panels for photography festivals and exhibitions, and oversees the creative direction behind these creative galleries. Through her eyes, the manifestation of photography inspires authenticity and courage within photographers to convey art in an unconventional way. In her work, Glaviano ultimately seeks for the vision of creativity–pairing unique elements that somehow work together as a completed concept.
“I want everyone to have their own authentic say.”
Vincent Peters for Vogue Italia | Tristan Godefroy, Les Amants de Paris
What admired me most about Glaviano in the beginning, was her vision behind PhotoVogue, a platform for aspiring and professional photographers to publish their work on the Vogue Italia website. This innovative idea came to Glaviano before 2013, and initially started as an opportunity to scout for talent. Glaviano described this as “giving a window for the talented to showcase their work.” PhotoVogue acts as an online curated space that enables photographers to obtain a portfolio that is welcomed by the standards of Vogue’s artistic guidelines. The concept brings forth a realization that there is so much talent out in the world, but maybe not enough credible sites with the utmost intentions for curation and exposure. Talent is ever-evolving, forever growing and PhotoVogue’s recognition can prove very beneficial for the career of an artist. “Vogue has a credible voice for image making, and it is important to give people chances to put themselves out there,” said Glaviano. The platform can be viewed as an opportunity, a way to gain confidence and comfortability in an artist’s work when having the ‘Vogue’ stamp of approval. With so many undiscovered aptitude circulating the internet, Glaviano wanted to open an online space that can serve as a personal gallery or a professional portfolio. More than 3,000 photos come in a day for review. It used to be that just Glaviano and her assistant were sifting through photographs and doing the selecting. The user was able to upload any number of photos any time, any day. Now the forum is more lean and tailored. Photographers can upload 2 photos, Monday through Wednesday during a more specific time frame, and for photojournalists, a caption field is offered to share their story or narrative.
“There is a difference between reality and the way you are able to translate your vision of that reality in a photograph.”
Vincent Peters for Vogue Italia
On Elements of Photography
When speaking with Glaviano about what she specifically looks for when curating photographs, the concept of ‘vision’ played a role in discussion. Glaviano stressed that vision is an essential part of the photography that she curates. She noted that the photograph does not necessarily need to be a narrative, because the viewer can become interested in just the subject of the photograph. She is not always concerned with linear photography, and her thoughts express that art does not always have to have a story behind it.“There is a difference between reality and the way you are able to translate your vision of that reality in a photograph,” said Glaviano. What does she want to see more of in photography? “I want everyone to have their own authentic say,” noted Glaviano. By doing something that is true to you and having the ability to translate that power to the viewer’s eyes–makes an impeccable vision and photograph– one with power.
On Her Work & Travel
On the Vogue Italia site, readers can view fashion and lifestyle stories written by Glaviano. Some of these stories include Vogue Italia’s Diary of Peter Lindbergh, works of Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel and Craig McDean. She is also the daughter of Marco Glaviano, the fashion photographer that is responsible for the many iconic black and white stills of Cindy Crawford, and many other coined supermodels. When speaking briefly about the work of Steven Meisel, Glaviano mentioned how the amazing quality of his photography never changes, even when fashion continuously does. “He can understand fashion better than anyone else by picking up a reference, and doing it even better than the reference,” said Glaviano. Meisel’s work brings the simplicity back to fashion photography. She went as far as to say that Meisel can be noted as one of the best fashion photographers of all time. More of Glaviano’s stories showcase the masters of photography, allowing the reader to view a gallery or video that highlights the photographer’s best work. Glaviano goes into detail about the masters’ style of photography and why each should be noted and memorable. The senior photo editor took a fond liking to photographer Harley Weir, whom she described as having a ‘different spirit’ about her and her work. Glaviano spoke about Weir’s beautiful style of photography and how she highlights the woman’s body; unapologetic, raw, real and authentic. Weir can be viewed as the “biggest thing that happened to fashion photography in the last 5 years,” said Glaviano. She interprets what is really going on today, noting the ‘female gaze’, a sensual form of photography in the female perspective. Many photographers are inspired by her through Instagram and other online social media platforms.
“He can understand fashion better than anyone else by picking up a reference, and doing it even better than the reference.”
Steven Meisel “Shades Of Time” for Vogue Italia July 2017
Glaviano, originally from Palermo, has always had the passion and drive for photography, even at a young age. At 25, Glaviano lived and worked in New York City. She worked with photographer Wayne Maser and studied the works at many art museums during the time. Glaviano spoke about her thrive for learning, studying and striving to be a curator. Earlier, Glaviano studied economics and mathematics at Bocconi University in Milan. She spoke about her love for photography and image making from the start, and how that shaped her career in Milan with photo curation today for Vogue Italia.
“Never give up and never say that you are tired”
Christy Turlington Photography by Ellen von Unwerth For Vogue Magazine Italy March 1991
Linda Evangelista by Steven Meisel Vogue Italia June 1990
Each day in the Vogue office is different. Glaviano said, “It’s actually a very dynamic job of traveling, from the magazine, online work and festivals, too.” Glaviano was just recently in Venice for the award giving of the late editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, Franca Sozzani. “It keeps her memory alive. It was a very emotional time in Venice,” said Glaviano. She shared with me her friendship, love and connection with Sozzani. You could really hear the warmth in her voice when speaking of their relationship. “She was immensely strong, and always said to dream big and follow your dreams,” said Glaviano. When asked if Sozzani had given her any memorable advice, “Never give up and never say that you are tired,” she said with a laugh. Glaviano shared that she keeps Sozzani with her everyday in the choices that she makes.
“Our present vision is shaped today from what we know by our past.”
Vincent Peters for Vogue Italia
On Her Instagram & References
The senior photo editor’s Instagram is quite unique, refreshing and historical in terms of her photo collection. You can see posts that range anywhere from Helmut Newton, Federico Fellini, Roger Vadim, Frank Horvat, Tim Walker, Bigas Luna, Seijun Suzuki and artists from all different points of the world–Italy, France, Britain, Spain, Japan and everywhere in between. Our conversation about her Instagram collection focused on references, culture and history. We spoke of Federico Fellini as a dreamer, and an artist that took his time to make something spectacular. “Our present vision is shaped today from what we know by our past,” said Glaviano. She stressed that we need to slow down and take our time with creativity and appreciation. “Our eyes are trained from what we have seen and what we have studied,” Glaviano also noted. Artistry today is a bit too fast paced, and we do not want to lose the important references of the past. It is invigorating to go back to the beginning and reshape these historical references so people remain aware of the artistic direction, and recuperate it.
“I love the smell of trees, being with yourself and having time to write and really think creative thoughts, elaborating and maybe understanding something you have not been able to understand before.”
Marco Glaviano – Niky Taylor, Eva Herzigova, Amber Smith, Beverly Peele, Daniela Pestova
St. Barth 1992
On Fashion & Social Media
When speaking of fashion and artistry through the lens, Glaviano also spoke of her personal style. We discussed practicality and fashion as an art. Glaviano mentioned her love for Helmut Lang’s designs and collections in the 90s, but of course she would not necessarily wear them. Fashion can be seen as an art piece and way of expression. When asked what the staple pieces are in her wardrobe, she said her Chanel handbag, Gucci loafers and a classic Burberry Trench. Dior, Galliano and Alexander McQueen also came into discussion when noting the extensive time and preparation it took to make a collection. These designers were seen as true masters of their craft. Today, everything moves much quicker. There is that pressure to produce so much for each collection. That being said, there “isn’t always that creative thrive when there are so many different collections to put out,” said Glaviano.
Is it easier to be a photographer today with social media so accessible? Or harder, since there are so many social media platforms? Glaviano and I spoke about how in ways, it is much easier today. But, it all has its ups and downs with contrast. She said, “Today, you don’t necessarily need a publisher to show your work. But I do think we need more and more curators to separate the exceptional from the poor quality– and have professionals guide photographers through the culture of what we know.” For instance, European vs. American photography. “European market can be a bit more experimental,” said Glaviano. But we also spoke about the freshness and creativity of young American photographers. Glaviano wants to show fashion and photography in an articulate way. She is focusing on a fashion & politics theme this year for one of the Vogue festivals in autumn. “I want to let fashion speak to other aspects of society as well,” said Glaviano.
“When I help other people artistically, that is what makes me the happiest. That is what truly motivates me.”
Kadra Ahmed Omar, Kiara Kabukuru, Alek Wek, Debra Shaw Margareth Lahoussaye & Adia Coulibaly, Atelier Astre, Paris, 1997, Vogue Italia By Peter Lindbergh
More On Her Personal Life & Happiness
In terms of critiques or criticism that Glaviano has received over the years, she expressed with great conviction, “I have been through a lot, again as a hard-worker, I don’t let people get me down. You get back up and you keep going. Sometimes, people are not always going to like you because of your critiques.”
When I asked Glaviano what she is doing when she is most happy, most calm, most beautiful and feels the most herself outside of work, she laughed and jokingly said “Without work? I am never without work.” She enjoys nature, which we could easily be able to gather by looking at her instagram collection. Glaviano is quite fond of colder weather, and shared her love for Iceland and Norway from a recent trip. You can view Glaviano’s personal photography through her outlook on trees, solitude and the earth. “When I wake up, I meditate for 40 minutes before I start my day,” she said. This is a way to collect the thoughts and be alone, not always surrounded by people. “I love the smell of trees, being with yourself and having time to write and really think creative thoughts, elaborating and maybe understanding something you have not been able to understand before,” said Glaviano. Even though she takes her own personal photography, Glaviano believes her role as a curator is more important than her work as a photographer. “When I help other people artistically, that is what makes me the happiest. That is what truly motivates me.”
To keep up with Glaviano; follow her work with the PhotoVogue Festival, from November 15th to the 19th. As well as a jurist for the 2017 PH Museum’s Women Photographers Grant.