At Italian Vogue, a New Beginning

Little wonder certain questions have been accessorizing the story ever since: Who is this guy anyway? And what’s he going to do with that job?

Photo

Italian Vogue, September issue.

Credit
via Vogue Italia

For a start, Mr. Farneti said: “I am not Franca.”

Well, duh — except he is referring not just to the blindingly obvious, but also the fact that he is about as different from Ms. Sozzani as possible: He is a different gender, from a different generation and a different professional background and has a different mien. His experience is journalistic and legal, as opposed to visual or fashionable. The woman he is succeeding, practically a brand in herself, was described as a cross between a figure from Botticelli and one from Stendhal by the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy.

Mr. Farneti is most often described by those who know him or work with him as low-key, and occasionally as bourgeois.

With his wings of brown hair and square jaw, his fondness for leather loafers without socks, Mr. Farneti looks like nothing so much as a G-rated Hollywood version of an Italian. He tends to blend into the woodwork. At the couture shows, he sat quietly in the front row. No one really came to pay homage, as they did with other Vogue editors such as Anna Wintour and Emmanuelle Alt. Paparazzi did not take his picture with celebrities. In his room at the Costes, he had one bouquet of somewhat sere-looking flowers from Dior.

None of this bothers Mr. Farneti, who has two children ages 8 and 6; a wife who works for a digital marketing agency; an apartment near the Alberta Ferretti headquarters in Milan; and two getaways: a house in the Alps and one on the Italian coast near Portofino. Also, a 15-year-old black Suzuki he rides to work.

He does not mind being underestimated. That should not be confused with being insecure.

“I think there are lots of different ways to be an editor,” he said. “It can be useful to embody a magazine,” as Ms. Sozzani did, “but it’s not the only possible way.” Besides, it is his very un-Franca-ness that probably made him the best candidate for the job. As Jonathan Newhouse, the chief executive of Condé Nast International, said, “I don’t think it was possible to replace Franca with an exact duplicate, and we didn’t try to do so.”

Besides, it is clear that if there is one thing Mr. Farneti understands, it is engineering…

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