Italian Vogue a Daring Look and Voice

Franca Sozzani, under whose 28-year direction Italian Vogue reigned as a daring and often impious iconoclast on the newsstand.

“Italian Vogue was the most inspiring Vogue in the world,” he added. “For over 25 years, Italian Vogue was ahead.”

Under its editor, Franca Sozzani, Italian Vogue has gained a reputation for being more about art and ideas than commerce. Ms. Sozzani also doesn’t mind controversy.

In 1988, she was appointed Editor in Chief of Italian Vogue—the same month that Anna Wintour was made the Editor in Chief at American Vogue. (By 1994, she was made Editor in Chief of Italian Condé Nast, enjoying great support from Jonathan Newhouse, the chairman of Condé Nast International.) Franca immediately shook up the formulaic title with dynamic covers and content, creating a magazine that, in her words, would be “extravagant, experimental, innovative.”

“Artists and talent flowed to her, and it wasn’t because she was Italian Vogue but because Italian Vogue was her,” Ms. Goldstein said in another interview. “Everywhere else, there were tons of rules. Fashion became a total noncreative business with all these people who try so hard. Franca didn’t have to try. She wasn’t trying to be cool. She wasn’t trying to be revolutionary. She just was.”

A maverick spirit, she turned her Vogue into a magazine that not only celebrated the power of the image, but also used fashion stories as a platform to discuss broader issues, and the obsessions of the fashionable world. Franca had a passion for, and a deep knowledge of, fashion and its history, but an ability to keep an amused distance from its modern day excesses.

She was fearless in her willingness to tackle provocative and controversial social and cultural issues through the medium of fashion shoots. (“Fashion isn’t really about clothes,” she said, “it’s about life.”)

Lightning rod subjects included domestic violence (“Horror Movie,” Steven Meisel, April 2014), and the contemporary obsession with plastic surgery (“Makeover Madness,” July 2005, a droll Meisel portfolio starring Linda Evangelista, Julia Stegner, and Missy Rayder, among others), and even the 2010 BP oil spill (Meisel with Kristen McMenamy washed up on the rocks and slicked with tar).

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In 2008, she produced the Black Issue, its editorial pages, entirely shot by Meisel, exclusively featuring women of color. It contributed mightily to the dialogue about diversity in the fashion industry and became an instant collector’s item. “Franca doesn’t realize what she’s done for people of color,” her friend Naomi Campbell (one of four cover stars with 20 portraits inside the magazine) told The New York Times at the time, “It reminds me of Yves (Saint Laurent) using all the black models.”


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During her almost three decades at the helm of Italian Vogue, Franca Sozzani, who died on Thursday at 66, transformed the magazine from one simply about clothes into one that championed its photographers, regularly broke boundaries, and never shied away from important issues.

Check out more issue  covers VOGUE ITALIAN

Franca: Chaos and Creation- A chronicle of the life and times of his mother, Franca Sozzani, the editor of Italian Vogue and a fashion-world provocateur.