Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani passed away in Milan on Thursday after a year-long illness. She was 66 years old.
Having led the magazine for 28 years, she was the recent recipient of the Swarovski Award for Positive Change at the BFC’s Fashion Awards.
Born in Mantua, Italy, Sozzani studied philosophy and Germanic literature at university. She was known for her philanthropic work and was a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations. Her sister, Carla Sozzani, founded the much-lauded concept store 10 Corso Como.
During her nearly three decade-long tenure at the helm of Vogue Italia, Sozzani did not shy away from controversy, commissioning issues on fashion’s weight debate, plastic surgery and racism, including her landmark all-black issue.
Under her editorship, the magazine was renowned as Condé Nast’s fashion photography power-house, with Sozzani championing the careers of Steven Meisel, Bruce Weber, Peter Lindbergh, Ellen von Unwerth and Paolo Roversi. In an age where print circulations are dramatically falling, Sozzani’s image based approach saw the magazine’s circulation figures consistently rise. Additionally, Sozzani acted as editorial director of Condé Nast Italia since 1994.
In the final year of her life, she was the subject of a well-respected documentary directed by her son, Francesco Carrozzini, which commentators described as a love letter between a mother and a child.
In a letter published on the Vogue Italia website, Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and chief executive of Condé Nast, wrote: “This is the saddest news I have ever had to report to you.” He said that she died with her son Francesco by her side.
Writing on American Vogue’s website, Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, remembered how she and Sozzani began their careers as editors-in-chief around the same time.
“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 honoured to say sustained itself for 30 years.”
Kering chairman and chief executive Francois Henri Pinault also paid tribute to Sozzani in a statement shared with BoF. “I am shocked by this desperately sad news,” he wrote. “The world of fashion has lost a great advocate; Kering and our fashion houses have lost a sharp eye for creativity; and I have lost a dear personal friend. Franca has always been alongside us from the first day, and I really appreciated her vision. I will miss Franca’s generosity, her passion for beauty, boldness and young talent, as well as her dedication to ensuring they were duly recognised, and we will all feel the loss of her kind smile.”