Franca Sozzani, the Editor in Chief of Vogue Italia, has passed away at age 66. As if 2016 wasn’t harsh enough.
Born in a conservative Italian family, Sozzani studied literature and philosophy in Milan before rapidly getting married and regretting it after 3 months. After her divorce, and Franca went to India to find herself “I thought it was time to do something good with my life.”
She started as “assistant to the assistant to the assistant” at Vogue Bambini, later at Lei and Per Lui and transformed them miraculously with her taste for images and international fashion and lifestyle concepts. She worked with the likes of the great Oliviero Toscani who later left to other magazines; but that didn’t stop her.
She started spotting emerging photographers like Mario Testino, Paolo Roversi, Herb Ritts, Peter Lindbergh, Bruce Weber and Steven Meisel; who flourished while working with her thanks to the editorial freedom she gave them and her passion and eye for photography. She raised the editorial content standards with everything she worked on.
In 1988, she was appointed Editor in Chief of Vogue Italia, while in parallel Anna Wintour was made the Editor in Chief at American Vogue. Vogue Italia became as much a powerful photography and imagery book as a magazine; it became “extravagant, experimental, innovative.”
She used her means not only to create images, but used fashion stories as a platform to discuss broader social issues, like domestic violence, the obsession with plastic surgery and even the 2010 BP oil spill. “Fashion isn’t really about clothes,” she said, “it’s about life.” She also produced the Black Issue in 2008, exclusively featuring women of color, which contributed greatly to the dialogue about diversity in the fashion industry. She was praised and respected by the likes of Naomi Campbell and many pillars in the fashion industry.
Her son, Francesco, strongly bonded with his mother, and produced and directed a documentary about her titled Franca: Chaos and Creation. It is a love letter from a child to a parent, and a beautiful tribute to a passionate woman.
Anna Wintour remembers: “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, and with an envy-inducing ease with multitasking. She made everything she worked on appear effortless, regardless of whether it was an event for several hundred; a whirlwind trip to Africa to support the continent’s emerging designers; or the creation of yet another newsworthy, provocative, and utterly spellbinding issue of Italian Vogue.”
We can go on and on about Franca. A blog post is not enough.
The world mourns this sad loss. Rest in peace Franca.