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That time I wore a CAPE for VOGUE!

Updated: Mar 9

I still laugh thinking about it! And then I smile with tenderness towards that experience. Let me share it with you because it's more meaningful than it seems.

It was February 2020, I was in Madrid (Spain) for a conference and I got contacted by a writer from Vogue asking if I was interested in having an interview for their Vogue Business Spain. "SURE!" I replied. I have never turned down the opportunity to speak to someone who wants to listen and talking to Vogue about Food Design was as delightful. The writer mentioned that they would have taken some photos as well for the article, and if I was ok with that. "Sure?" I replied, this time a bit more hesitant... But then I thought "Hey, let's do it". I couldn't have imagined what the process would have actually been like.

A few days before the meeting for the interview I received an email from the stylist who would have dressed me... What now? A stylist to dress me? Hahahaha... Seriously! "Ah what the hell, SURE!" She asked for my size and height, shoe size, and style preferences. Never in my life have I even thought about, let alone discussed with someone else, my preferred style of clothes... Those who know me or have met me have seen that I consider clothes a way to protect myself from external elements or to not go around naked. That's about all the meaning I give to clothes. I do have some general color preferences, I know I need to be comfortable, and for that reason, I don't wear heels, but that's about it. I didn't even know what to reply to the girl! Hahaha... how I laugh every time I think of this story. I'm refraining from using the laughing emoji because otherwise, these paragraphs would be a constellation of yellow laughing dots. Anyway, she was kind and understanding - clearly, she is good at her job - and told me not to worry and that she had some ideas. Brilliant.

And then the day of the interview came. While the interview itself took about an hour (it went smoothly, the writer was lovely, and the conversation was quite fulfilling) everything else... laughing emoji! The first to arrive was the makeup artist. Do I need to say it? I had never had my face painted! Never had a makeup artist or even a friend who knows their way around makeup, have a go at... whatever it is that makeup does... with my face. I actually never wear makeup! I don't know anything about it. I think I have owned three eyeliners in my life. Three not because I used them all but because I either lost or I broke them. Instead, here I am with this lovely gentleman - who turned out to be an Italian who immigrated to Spain some 20 years ago -and his suitcase of makeup. He told me about his life and we had a wonderful conversation about being a searching soul. He kept taking out big pouches of stuff that all seemed the same things to me. Do you know how chefs have that roll-up pouch for their knives? Well, he had THREE of those just with brushes! And a bag of powder thingies and another of foundations (that I know, smiley face), and so on. He covered a whole table. And the more stuff he used the more I felt both small and in awe. He spent ONE HOUR putting layers of makeup on my face, to make me look NATURAL! Laughing emoji again! I love it. I loved it. Every second. And yes, in the end, I looked more... beautiful. Can I say that?

And then... The stylists arrived! Two of them, because there was an assistant too. And of course, because they brought THREE suitcases of clothes! I was flabbergasted.

As the makeup artist was finishing his last touches with the precision and attention to detail of a surgeon, the stylist - maybe after having looked at me and felt what type of person I am - laid in front of me a few options. I immediately noticed the sneakers, "Thank God! She read my soul". But then she presented me with some clothes options... She had an inquisitive look on her face, with an intriguing mix of curiosity, a touch of mischievousness, playfulness, and mostly care. She said: "I was thinking about this cape..." lifting it up and showing it to me. I looked at it, and... I laughed! Me? In a cape? "SURE! What the hell". And then I said: "You're the expert here, I trust you completely. All of this is a gift from life for me, so I'll play with it fully. Let's wear a cape"! And really, look at me... I LOOKED GREAT! I pulled it off brilliantly! Laughing emoji as if there is no tomorrow, but star-eyed emoji and heart emoji too at the end for a touch of... "it's true". And look a their faces, they're so happy and proud! (It's the stylist on the left and the makeup artist on the right).

francesca zampollo for Vogue

I knew then I would have laughed for years, and in fact, I still am. So much so that I'm sitting here four years later thinking about this piece of clothing and these people that marked my life so strongly.

Then the day went on with the photo shoot, two different locations, and actually two changes of clothes. There was another ensemble with a recycled-plastic-leather-jacket, to prove again that the stylist really read my soul. The photographer and his assistant (last to arrive) were lovely as well, and the whole 5000 photos he took were a beautiful experience made of "look there now", "chin up", "smile", "turn the foot slightly inward", and so on. Laughing emoji, laughing emoji.

francesca zampollo for Vogue

And then there was the cappuccino.... See the cappuccino on the table in the first photo at the beginning of this article? That cappuccino had his whole moment of fame! We waited 30 min for it. I sat down more or less in that position, all lights ready, all cameras in hand, everything waiting for this cappuccino that never arrived... But apparently, it was essential to the photo. I am sure the photographer - and the stylist who also helped in this creative choice - had precise reasons to want that cappuccino there and I too personally think it somehow brings everything together. My warm memories of that day wouldn't be the same without that cappuccino... which nobody drank by the way... it got cold of course.

I felt blessed the whole time. It felt like a gift life was giving me, to experience something completely new and foreign to me. So I played with it! I loved every second with that group of incredibly talented people, who each had a vision and incredible skills. It was great, and I’ll treasure it forever.

But my point is… I have noticed people's reactions when I mention this day of my life, an interview with Vogue with a photo shoot where they dressed me up. Not only my mum's reaction who went nuts for months telling everyone she knows... but other people too, those who are not so emotionally invested in my life! Somehow a magazine like Vogue has cultivated a certain meaning in people's view, and the act of being interviewed with a photoshoot creates a specific context to which we give a certain value. Events like this can sometimes make people attach a certain label (even if temporary or confined) to their image of that person.

Does this define my success?

The existence of this article does influence how people label their perception of my success. And is that what defines my success? The idea people have of me? The idea I help people have of me by telling them, for example, about this article?

Is my success defined by the type of clients I have? Big corporations vs the cafe around the corner?

Is my success defined by the amount of money I earn?

Is my success defined by the number of clicks or likes or reposts or photo shoots on glossy pages?

I raise these questions because I have doubts.

When you meet me you see a human being, with struggles and victories, with joy and pain. I'll probably try to hide the struggles and pains for as long as I can but they are there. It's all me. If we spend enough time together I'll tell you about the moments of financial success and of financial struggle. I am both. So, what defines my success?

Like many of us who need to have a presence in the digital space to be found, and therefore to work, I too share my achievements, together with my skills, on social media and here on my website. And as I do it I always wonder... I contemplate the value of sharing these, the effect sharing these has on me, and the meaning it produces. I contemplate its energetic imprint on the world. So, as I share the Vogue article knowing that different people will attach different meanings to it, and therefore to me, I choose to also share with you how I lived that day, and the experience that you can't read about in the article itself, and the facets of that day that speak of the human beings that were present, of amusement, humbleness, and gratitude.

As I navigate, not without stumbling often, this path between social media, self-advertisement, and personal evolution, I have decided to try and define my success based on the impact I have on people... in every interaction I have, and on the relationships I create with my clients and co-workers, or with the makeup artist and stylist I met once in my life. I have decided to try and define my success based on the work I do, and the change I bring, even if invisible and forever unknown by most. On the words I choose, and the smiles I gift, and on that feeling I sometimes have in my chest when we do something... when I write an email, water my plants, remember I am breathing…

And there you have it, the story of that time I wore a CAPE for VOGUE, and what it did for me.


Interested in further reading? Check out my books and articles.

books by francesca zampollo


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