The fashion industry mourns the death of Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia. Sozzani transitioned on December 22 after a long illness. Sozzani severed as Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia for 28 years, starting in 1988, the same year as Anna Wintour took the helm at American Vogue.
In her 28 years at Vogue Italia, Sozzani took the magazine beyond a publication that celebrated Italian couture styles and embraced fashion as seen through the lens of culture, politics, and evolving attitudes. Sozzani conceded, “Fashion isn’t really about clothes,” [ ]“it’s about life.”
Sozzani shocked the fashion industry by producing fashion editorials that highlighted plastic surgery, domestic violence and a 2010 editorial that mocked the BP oil spill. In 2008, Sozzani spearheaded the 2008 groundbreaking “Black Issue,” an issue totally devoted to black models, black beauty, and black social issues.
After starting studying philosophy and architecture in Milan, Franca Sozzani spent a short time in ‘Swinging London’ soon marrying, but just as quickly divorcing. After returning to Italy she secured an assistant position at Vogue Bambino. An editor position followed at Lei in 1980 and in 1982 she moved on to Per Lei. While at both publications Sozzani nurtured the young talents of Steven Meisel, Peter Lindbergh, Mario Testino, Bruce Weber, and Herb Ritts. Understanding the power of imagery, Sozzani gave many of these young photographers free rein, helping to forward the careers of these burgeoning photographic geniuses.
When Sozzani arrived at Vogue Italia, she already had a coterie of brilliant photographers who could realize her vision for the magazine as well as photographers Sozzani could farm out to the many Italian fashion houses to shoot campaigns that would later appear in Vogue Italia. In just under a decade Sozzani has become a major powerbroker with Italian fashion houses, manufacturers, and industrialists.
In 1994 Sozzani became the Creative Direction of Italian Conde Nast. With that appointment, Sozzani became one of the most powerful women in global fashion, facilitating Vogue Italia’s transition to a fashion publication that celebrated the confluence of fashion, music, politics, and world culture and reaching a global audience.
With all these accomplishments in the late 90’s, Sozzani began to be involved in more philanthropic pursuits such as Gianni Versace, AIDS initiative, Convivo, as well as being appointed global ambassador against hunger by the United Nations World Food Programme, and a goodwill ambassador for Fashion4Development. Sozzani co-founded Child Priority with Jonathan Newhouse to provide work opportunities for underprivileged children.
Franca Sozzani is survived by her son Francesco who produced a documentary, “Franca: Chaos and Creation,” in 2016 that premiered at the Venice Film Festival.