MILAN — Longtime Vogue Italia editor in chief Franca Sozzani died on Thursday. She was 66.
Born in Mantua, Italy, in 1950, she headed the Italian magazine for 28 years, shaping it into one of the most influential magazines globally.
Sozzani touched on topics deemed taboos by others, dedicating whole issues to themes such as “Curvy,” or “Black,” the obsession with plastic surgery, the BP Gulf oil spill or domestic violence.
Earlier this month, Sozzani received the First Swarovski Award for Positive Change in London, and in September, a movie on her life directed by her son Francesco Carrozzini premiered in Venice at the city’s Film Festival.
Designers and industry leaders have been posting tributes to the late editor on Instagram and Twitter.
American Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour wrote the following in a blogpost on Vogue.com. “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.”
“Farewell to Franca Sozzani, a woman who believed fashion could be more. ‘We can’t always be writing about flowers,’ she said,'” tweeted Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times.
Designer Donatella Versace posted an Instagram photo, captioned: “Ciao Franca, my dearest friend. You will be in my heart forever.”
The screening of the documentary on Sozzani in September reflected her stature in the fashion industry, with guests ranging from Azzedine Alaïa and Miuccia Prada to Renzo Rosso, Diego Della Valle, Riccardo Tisci and Donatella Versace.
The screening was followed by a dinner held by Valentino in her honor, in the presence of Valentino Garavani, Giancarlo Giammetti and the brand’s sole creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli as well as its chief executive officer Stefano Sassi.
The likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Bruce Weber, Marina Abramović, Jeff Koons and Baz Luhrmann appeared in the film, expressing their views on Sozzani’s work and persona. Interviewed ahead of the screening, in her staple understated manner, she said the comments were more controversial than, as she put it, hagiographic.
“I didn’t want a ‘santino’ [holy picture] of me, or anyone saying I am a genius. There are people I’ve had clashes with,” Sozzani told WWD. To wit, Condé Nast chairman and chief executive officer Jonathan Newhouse’s comments that he “thought she’d taken Vogue too far. I said, ‘If you keep going in this direction, I might have to fire you.’”
To be sure, Sozzani courted controversy—and appeared unfazed by the commotion she often caused. Never afraid to speak her mind, Sozzani channeled her views on Vogue.it, and sharing her opinion on her blog, bonding with readers around the world. At the screening of the film in Venice, Sozzani received the red carpet treatment—just as much as any Hollywood A-listers, with young fans clamoring for selfies and screaming for autographs. While her looks conveyed a delicate image, with her petite frame and long, wavy blonde hair and azure eyes, Sozzani was determined and set on leaving her mark in the world, as she says in the film, not content with being a bourgeois housewife. In a WWD interview in 2011, Sozzani stated her views for Vogue Italia very simply, saying that what differentiates the magazine is that “it tells its own stores, it does it in a way that is sometimes stronger than other magazines. I would say the strength of Vogue Italia is its creativity and image.” She wondered how to translate the magazine’s photos and content online, which quickly became a success, driving sales at newsstands, too.
See More on Franca Sozzani:
Launch Gallery: Franca Sozzani Dies at 66