Franca Sozzani, Italian Vogue’s editor in chief, died yesterday at 66, following a yearlong undisclosed illness.
A visionary and free-spirited soul, Franca Sozzani was born in Mantua 66 years ago, daughter of an industrial engineer who, as Sozzani herself often stated, did not approve her daughter’s lust for independence and freedom. After studying philosophy in Milan, getting married and then divorced, and after an illuminating trip to India, Franca Sozzani found herself in London and soon at the head of Vogue’s children fashion magazine Vogue Bambini in 1976.
Less than 10 years later, Condé Nast appointed her as Vogue Italy’s editor in chief, knowing that she was about to take over the fashion world with a visionary revolution. And so did she.
She began reshaping Vogue and the fashion industry with iconic and long-term collaborations such as those with photographers Steven Meisel and Peter Lindbergh. She subsequently helped create the so-called “supermodel phenomenon” in the same decade, breaking the boundaries of fashion and always encouraging us to see the industry as an empowering medium that could be accessible to everybody.
In 2008, she produced Black Issue along with Meisel, which is still remembered as one of Vogue Italy’s most groundbreaking issues, and in 2011 she launched Vogue Curvy, which was an immediate success. Throughout her career, she gave fashion its most intersectional name, improving and positively influencing the lives of many.
She was also extremely involved in charity, and not only became the director of Convivio, the AIDS initiative Gianni Versace founded in 1992, but also founded Child Priority with Jonathan Newhouse, Condé Nast’s Chairman and Chief. In a moving letter published on Vogue Italia’s website, Newman took the time to tell the world how impactful Franca Sozzani’s life was.
“This is the saddest news I have ever had to report to you,” he stated. “Franca Sozzani, the editor of Italian Vogue for 28 years, died today in Milan after a yearlong illness with her son, Francesco, by her side. It in an incalculable loss for Vogue and for the fashion world, along with many people around the world whose lives she touched — readers, photographers, journalists, fashion designers and professionals — and people around the world whom she met through her role at the United Nations.”
Anna Wintour, Franca Sozzani’s Vogue US counterpart, also shared her emotions regarding such a great loss, recalling the deep journey and path they shared together.
“Franca and I began our careers as editors in chiefs at around the same time, but that didn’t automatically admit us to some exclusive club where all Vogue editors are BFFs; in fact, I think for the first few years we just circled each other, quietly. Gradually however, show by show and season by season, Franca and I found ourselves falling into a friendship that I am so happy and honored to say sustained itself for 30 years,” she explained.
“In private, Franca was warm, clever, funny, and someone who could give the Sphinx a run for its money when it comes to keeping a confidence. She was also the hardest-working person I have known,” Wintour continued. “She made everything she worked on appear effortless.”
Will the fashion industry, along with Vogue Italia, be the same without Franca Sozzani? Although we do know the answer to this question is no, we firmly believe she will never go forgotten, as she truly left an indelible mark on our society.
Photo courtesy of @francasozzani1