Why Franca Sozzani is the Blueprint for an Iconic Editor-in-Chief

By: Kennedy Smith

Franca Sozzani served Vogue Italia for 28 years and embodied what an editor-in-chief should be. She led the way for taking controversial subjects and presenting them in a fashion publication, something that was not approved of by many in the industry. Despite her passing away in December of 2016, Sozzani remains one of the most revolutionary editors-in-chief to exist. 

“Fashion is a mirror of the era in which we live. Why should the magazine be disconnected from reality? It's not like in the past.”

- Franca Sozzani

Photographed by  Peter Lindbergh .

Photographed by Peter Lindbergh.

She had ambition and strength.

In Franca: Chaos and Creation, a documentary made by her only child Francesco Carrozzini, Sozzani shared bits of her life that illustrated her strength.

Sozzani wed at the age of 20 and annulled the marriage after 3 months. Marrying was a way for Sozzani to move out, as she stated in the documentary. “I didn’t want to go through this life with a little white dress for my baptism and a tombstone with a date and end it there,” she then went on to say. 

Pursuing her dreams meant more to her than living what most would consider a traditional lifestyle. Her ambition guided her to follow her dreams of pursuing a career in fashion. 

Sozzani was impacted by the breakthrough of Yves Saint Laurent, because he “made the woman masculine.” Laurent served as a symbol for Sozzani, because he showed that women could dress with power.

Yves Saint Laurent pioneered the movement for taking menswear and incorporating it into fashion for women. Sozzani admired his unapologetic approach to mixing women’s and men’s fashion. Photo by  Reginald Gray .

Yves Saint Laurent pioneered the movement for taking menswear and incorporating it into fashion for women. Sozzani admired his unapologetic approach to mixing women’s and men’s fashion. Photo by Reginald Gray.

She was a visionary with innovative ideas.


Under Sozanni’s authority, Vogue Italia released issues that were deemed controversial. She published issues that dealt with matters in modern society, such as plastic surgery, body diversity, and rehab. The “Black Issue” featured only black models and rocked the fashion industry, as no other publication had dedicated an entire issue to those of color.

The collaborative editorial after BP’s catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was unfavorable among many, but it demonstrated how fashion interprets real-life. She had great partnerships with photographers such as Ellen von Unwerth, Bruce Weber, Paolo RoversiMichel Comte, Steven Miesel, and the late Peter Lindbergh, that helped her create these iconic editorials. 

Her fearless nature enabled her to create beyond the realm of what fashion was considered to be, which was simply showing clothes and models. She made people look at work that affected them in some way, whether good or bad.

She was diplomatic and charitable. 

In addition to Sozzani’s renowned work, she was known for her philanthropic efforts. In 2012, she served as a United Nations goodwill ambassador.

Former President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, presented her the Legion of Honour distinction, which is considered to be the highest order of merit for civil excellence in France. 

In 2014, she was named a global ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme. She contributed to many charities and was awarded the Swarovski Fashion Award For Positive Change at the 2016 Fashion Awards. 

Italian online fashion retailer Yoox Net-a-porter displayed Sozzani’s private collection of 397 ready-to-wear and haute couture garments and 190 accessories. All proceeds from Sozzani’s wardrobe were donated to benefit research in Preventive Genomics.

Photographed by  Peter Lindbergh .

Photographed by Peter Lindbergh.

Franca Sozzani remains admired by many for her fearless creative vision that broke boundaries with Vogue Italia. She is truly missed by her loved ones, the industry, and those who looked up to her.