Oliviero Toscani (1942). Italian photographer who had brilliant intuitions and a provocative stance. He attained worldwide notoriety through shocking photographs, but also through social messages with a universal language. He was born in Milan, and grew up on photography, a presence in his family from when he was small. He was an apprentice with his father, a famous reporter of Il Corriere della Sera, but that was not enough. From 1961 till 1965 he studied graphic design and photography in Zurich, in one of the most respected schools in Europe. He was hired by Flavio Lucchini, art director of the newly founded Italian edition of Vogue, and worked for this magazine where his direct, spare style was successful — midway between the realism of photojournalism and the fiction of fashion photography. Right from the beginning, he worked with all the leading international fashion magazines. His contribution was crucial to the success of L’Uomo Vogue, the first magazine dedicated to men’s fashion, where he was the main photographer from the magazine’s founding, in 1967, until the beginning of the 1980s. But other successful magazines in the 1970s and 1980 looked up to him as the mastermind, the protagonist of their most precise images: from the weekly Elle, to Lei, Donna, Moda, and Mondo Uomo. He was also the creative power behind many of the most innovative advertising campaigns of the fashion industry, since the 1970s. He did a famous picture of a woman’s derriere as the symbol of Jesus jeans, as well as a series of invariably provocative pictures created for Prénatal, Fiorucci, and Esprit. In 1982 he began his professional partnership with Luciano Benetton. He was responsible for changing the label from Benetton to United Colors of Benetton. In the company he had total liberty in the field of image and communications and handled large advertising budgets which he used to manage a communications campaign with strong social contents: he scandalized the bourgeoisie but he won acclaim prestigious prices, including the Grand Prix d’Affichage and the UNESCO Grand Prix. From the very beginning, his campaigns focused on controversial themes with shocking images: from racism to AIDS, from Mafia to war, from religion to pollution, from a newborn baby still linked to an umbilical cord to the handicapped. He founded the bimonthly Colors, distributed worldwide through the thousands of Benetton stores, an unconventional publication that examined the hypocrisies and absurdities of the life of modern consumerism. Again, with the sponsorship of Benetton and in a monastic seventeenth-century villa renovated by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando in the countryside around Treviso, he founded Fabrica, an arts workshop, a school and laboratory in which to develop young creative talents found around the world. In his maturity, Toscani is much more than a photographer: he is a great communicator, an art director, a director. His work has been studied in debates, exhibitions, international expositions such as the Venice Biennale, the Biennale d’Arte e della Moda of Florence (1986, 1998). He won the highest award assigned by the Advertising Festival of Cannes for a television spot, many prizes and international recognition. Three wives and six children. He lives half the time in a large farm in Tuscany, where he raises Apaloosa horses.
2001. The relationship with Benetton was broken off. Toscani began working as a freelancer, with the name Oliviero Toscani Energie.