Fearless. Rebellious. Unique. These words, merely a pinch when it comes to describing the former editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia. The fashion and editorial world mourns the loss of the one and only Franca Sozzani, who passed away on the 22nd December 2016 at the age of 66.
In 1988 Franca Sozzani stepped into the shoes of leading Vogue Italia. It was from there when she started to truly make a lasting and significant impression in the world of fashion and glossy pages. She shook up the fashion title that saw substance in both cover and content – an “extravagant, experimental, innovative” magazine.
A powerful name that worked with equally prominent visual linguists such as Weber, Roversi, Lindbergh and Meisel – she set the bar for fashion imagery that later on seeped into the talents of her son, Francesco Carrozzini. She wasn’t one to play by anybody else’s rules, and used her voice and skill to openly discuss contemporary issues. After all, it was through the power of photographs and fashion stories that served as a platform to bring in mind-tackling debate. In the world of fashion, Sozzani was the embodiment of fearlessness who knew that it wasn’t just about clothes and looking the part. She called out the fashion industry’s mistakes and wasn’t daunted about bringing them to light – as long as it got everyone talking.
“Fashion isn’t really about clothes,” she once said, “it’s about life.” She helmed provocative and highly controversial fashion shoots tackled cultural issues. These subjects included the modern-day obsession with plastic surgery (July 2005 “Makeover Madness”), the 2010 BP oil spill (Kristen McMenamy with Steven Meisel), and domestic violence (April 2014 “Horror Movie”).
July 2008 saw the “Black Issue”, with its editorial pages shot by Steven Meisel, which featured women of colour. It was an overnight collector’s item and a grand contribution to the dialogue regarding diversity in the fashion industry. According to supermodel of colour Naomi Campbell, who graced these pages, “Franca doesn’t realize what she’s done for people of colour. It reminds me of Yves Saint Laurent using all the black models.”
In July 2011, Franca Sozzani also made sure Vogue Italia challenged the industry’s lack of body diversity with its “plus-size issue” that saw models such as Tara Lynn, Candice Huffine and Robyn Lawley on the cover. They were dressed in tasteful lingerie and accompanied by equally tasty plates of spaghetti. Sozzani also inserted a new “Curvy” section on the magazine’s website.
The former editor-in-chief was known to promote young designers and support those with talent but without the means to step into the cutthroat world. She was also active in social issues and philanthropy that stretched beyond the pages of Italian Vogue, working on issues such as AIDS, hunger, gender equality and poverty. Sozzani’s contributions to the masses also involved providing work opportunities for underprivileged children and supported the empowerment and education of women and young girls.
Her memory now lives on through her legacy, and through the film made by her son, photographer and film director Francesco Carrozzinni, titled “Franca: Chaos and Creation“. As parting words, we’ve put together some choice quotes in memory of the Italian icon:
“The mistake that we’ve made is that everyone looks the same. Everyone is Natalia: Natalia V., Natalia C., Natalia Ch.”
“Models used to have lives – character. They ate, smoked, had boyfriends. Now, all the girls are so scared to be sent back to Ukraine.”
“Only young people can help young people.”
“About who young girls should look up to: “Go to the agencies and see who they reject.”
“Fashion has been always blamed as one of the culprits of anorexia, and our commitment is the proof that fashion is ready to get on the frontline and struggle against the disorder.”
“Giving back is the new luxury.”
“In ‘Curvy’, they are superhappy with their sizes. We help them dress fashionably. We say: It’s pointless for you to buy leggings, take this because this will look good on you. We help them choose. We don’t talk about diets because they don’t want to be on a diet, but it’s not a ghetto. Why should these women slim down? Many of the women who have a few extra kilos are especially beautiful and also more feminine.”
Arrivederci, Franca Sozzani, you will be missed.
Photos from Google and Vogue Italia.