Franca Sozzani – the iconoclast that was.
Many stars vanished in the year 2016. The fashion family too suffered a tremendous loss on December 23rd. Franca Sozzani, the woman who made Vogue Italia what it is today, passed at the age of 66.
I moved to Dubai in 2014 and in the same year, Franca visited this city as part of Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience. I regret today that I did not get to see her when I could.
Suzy Menkes posted a series of precious photos on her Instagram page remembering her friend and the extraordinary woman. In her Tribute on Vogue, she writes, “Her slight frame belied a forceful mind and a sense of conviction in the many other projects she took on.” Her passing came as a shock to many like me just because her spirit never wavered, her light never dimmed. Her American counterpart and friend, Anna Wintour said, “After she became ill, I began visiting her at her home in Milan. Her mind and spirit were undiminished as we discussed every topic under the sun…” Earlier in December, she even flew to London to receive the Swarovski Fashion Award For Positive Change quite deservedly bestowed to her. Anna remembered, “She was on oxygen but determined to be there in person…”
Vogue to millions is a fashion ‘bible’, all the more making the voice of Vogue extremely important. Franca used this platform to address several issues. She said, “I always use fashion. Fashion is such a media tool today that through fashion, you can really talk to everybody”. Her ‘Makeover Madness’ shoot with the talented Steven Meisel back in 2005 provides a “…snapshot of a society that is increasingly obsessed not so much with curable illnesses as with physical appearance, bra size and sexual performance.” Franca never shied away from controversial issues. She made noise and absolutely everyone listened.
As we say our farewell to the first African American President of The United States, Barack Obama, it is all too befitting to mention the 2008, Vogue Italia’s ‘All black’ issue. The issue reportedly (by TIME) sold out in the U.S.A and the U.K. within 72 hours and thousands of copies were reprinted. Franca said she was inspired by the candidacy of Barack Obama and thought, “It’s a sign, It’s the moment.”
Franca believed and supported the young talents, the main reason why she visited Dubai as part of ‘Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience’. You can watch her interview here. She also took up roles such as Global Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP); Fashion for Development for UN in Africa; worked to eradicate AIDS; and with the European Institute of Oncology.
As Paris: Haute Couture week 2017 closes, Franca’s petite frame, her warm smile and that gargantuan personality is dearly missed.