Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief Franca Sozzani has passed away after battling a year-long illness. The 66-year-old had been at the helm of Vogue Italia for 28 years, and is known for not only championing fashion but also humanitarian issues she held close to her heart.
Whenever Ms Sozzani threw her weight behind a designer or cause, the entire fashion industry sat up and took notice. She divided her time between Vogue Italia and L’Uomo Vogue (becoming editor in 2006) and was also made Editorial Director of Condé Nast Italy in 1994.
Dedicated to pushing boundaries and publishing some of fashion’s most thought provoking spreads, Ms Sozzani spent close to three decades at Vogue Italia crafting a tome that is widely considered to be the best in the business. The magazine’s provocative editorial content reached far beyond fashion, presenting a snapshot of cutting edge style, art and culture month after month. In her words, should wanted to create a magazine that would be “extravagant, experimental, innovative”.
A rebellious spirit, she believed in the power of beautiful, strong images, forming a close professional relationship with Steven Meisel who went on to shoot nearly every cover of Vogue Italia.“Fashion isn’t really about clothes,” she said, “it’s about life.”
She was a champion of nurturing emerging design talent and was a supporter of the International Woolmark Prize from the beginning, judging the awards and meeting with the finalists to discuss their work and careers.
"I along with my colleagues at The Woolmark Company are enormously saddened to hear this morning of the loss of our dear friend Franca Sozzani,” said The Woolmark Company Managing Director Stuart McCullough.
“Franca has been instrumental in the revival of the wool industry's fortunes during the past six years - a little known fact to 55,000 Australian woolgrowers who are the significant beneficiaries. Our deepest sympathies to Franca's family and those who held her friendship."
In 2014, under the creative direction of Ms Sozzani, a collaboration between L’Uomo Vogue and The Woolmark Company honoured the historic connection and importance between the Italian fashion industry and the woolgrowers of Australia.
Titled World Wide Wool, the event saw Ms Sozzani create a unique street photo exhibition, with extraordinary photos from L’Uomo Vogue archives along with a collection of amazing photos of Australia’s most influential names in fashion, design, art, music, economy and public life, by the most important photographers.
Travelling to Australia for the first time, she also published a special edition of L’Uomo Vogue, dedicating the March edition to Australian heritage and A-list personalities. She spent time with leading Australian fashion designers such as Camilla and Marc, Josh Goot, Dion Lee, Christopher Esber, From Britten P/L and Michael Lo Sordo, as well as with top university students wishing to enter the industry.
“I am so proud of this big project, which celebrates such a vital country, its personalities and its youngest talents - whose creativity will be recognised and rewarded - and its world-renowned wool,” Ms Sozzani said during her trip to Australia in 2014.
“The most talented will travel to Italy and be hosted along with their works in one of our greatest events, thus sealing the collaboration between Italy and Australia and confirming the active support we give to young designers from all over the world.”
Despite her ever-increasing editorial responsibilities, Ms Sozzani had also been active in the worlds of publishing and art. In addition, she was widely known and highly valued internationally for her humanitarian activities and support of charitable causes.
In 2013 Ms Sozzani received the Award of Courage from The American Foundation for AIDS Research, in appreciation and recognition for her generosity and unwavering commitment to a world without Aids, and in 2014 she was appointed a United Nations WFP Global Ambassador against Hunger. Earlier this month she was honoured with the Swarovski Award for Positive Change at the British Fashion Council's Fashion Awards.