An American in Milano at Vanity Fair Italia

An American in Milano at Vanity Fair Italia
Devin Pedzwater - best known Stateside for his work at SPIN, Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated magazines - has been the Creative Director at Vanity Fair Italia for two years. Gym Class's Steven Gregor caught up with Devin, and got the low-down on what it's like to work on Vanity Fair's 250+ page weekly (yes, weekly!) Italian cousin. 

Are you settled in Milan? What do you love most about living in Italy; and what do you miss most about New York?
I'm lucky to have an office in both Milan and New York, so I can keep a foot in both worlds. When I'm in Milan, which I love, my colleagues and friends embrace me as one of the family, which helps me embrace the Italian lifestyle. I now have an intimate understanding of their day-to-day culture, which influences the work I do for the magazine, as well as all of the brand extensions. Oh, and the's fantastic. 

How does Vanity Fair Italia differ from the US edition?
Its in Italian, it's a weekly--the only weekly edition in the Vanity Fair global brand--and it's massive. We're publishing 250+ pages each week. That's closer to what the US edition does in a month. But for me, the most significant difference is that the Italian edition has a dedicated Style section. Our Fashion Director Sciascia Gambaccini and her team produce and shoot 30-50 pages of original fashion content every week. 

And how is it the same at the US edition?
The mission to be a cultural catalyst is the same, so there's a similar mix of society, business and world affairs. But the Italian edition includes a broader scope of weekly political news, style, beauty and gossip. You see a similar elegance in the photography and design, which is what you would expect from the Vanity Fair brand.

How much editorial content is lifted from the US edition/how much is original?
It's a newsweekly, so most of the editorial content is original. Sometimes we do lift cover stories from the US edition, but not always. Newsstand competition in Italy is fierce, even more than it is in the US, and regional Italian magazines don't have very good access to A-list American celebrities. We have the advantage of leveraging the US edition's access and assets for our covers.

Design wise, how close to the US edition is the Italian edition?
Chris Dixon has done a wonderful job of focusing the look of US Vanity Fair. I think it's in perfect harmony with the magazine's voice. The Italian edition is cut from the same cloth, but it's tailored for Italian readers who like a mix of everything--high and low brow--all in one issue. 

Vanity Fair Italia is a massive brand... a magazine; website; events; merchandise. What does a regular work week look like for you? Does your role extend beyond the pages of the magazine?
I was fortunate enough to have joined this team just as it was making plans to transition from a magazine to a media brand, with many different touch points. My role encompasses all of the extensions of the brand. Some weeks I will focus my attention on a special print issue, another week it's a website redesign, then a social media campaign and so on. I don't really have a regular work week and that's exactly how I like it. 

WIRED Italia and IL are two Italian magazines known around the world by editorial designers. On the whole, is the Italian magazine industry a creative and innovative one?
Those two are certainly leading the creative market. David Moretti and Francesco Franchi are world class designers. Also, the new GQ Italia is really fresh and innovative. There's a real passion for print in Italy. Even in a dire economic environment, titles are being launched and refreshed all the time. 
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