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December 22, 2016 10:54 AM

In 2016, we’ve already said goodbye to an endless list of icons this year, including David Bowie, Prince, Gene Wilder, Mohammed Ali, Florence Henderson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Gary Marshall, and Alan Thicke – and that’s, shockingly, just to name a few. And with a few days left in the year, there’s sadly another legendary name to include on the list: Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief Franca Sozzani, who passed away on Thursday morning after battling a year-long illness.

Sozzani was a beacon for diversity in the fashion industry, regularly advocating for greater inclusion of all body types and skin colors, a fact that was reflected within Vogue Italia‘s pages throughout her nearly 30-year tenure there, beginning in 1988. She was also forever a champion of young designers and fresh faces, even appearing on America’s Next Top Model and featuring its winners in the magazine. She once famously said, “you can never be overdressed or overeducated,” and “start with a style and you are in chains, start with an idea and you are free.” These statements are testament to both her love of the art form and her belief that fashion should go well beyond the shallow discourse of trends and It Girls; as New York Times Fashion Director Vanessa Friedman reminisced in a tweet, Sozzani once said, “We can’t always be writing about flowers.”

And Friedman was certainly not the only one to express her remorse at the news of the death of one of the biggest personalities in the business. Editors and friends have paid tribute to her legacy over the course of the day since the news of her passing broke this morning, including an unexpected in memoriam from Kanye West:

Other celebrities also joined in mourning on social media, including Kendall Jenner and Madonna.

Her contemporary, American Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, also paid her condolences, writing a lengthy article on Vogue.com discussing their close friendship and her deep sadness at her passing. Wintour writes, “Franca and I found ourselves falling into a friendship that I am so happy and honored to say sustained itself for 30 years. That’s one thing that Franca taught me about friendship: Sometimes, you really have to earn it. 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.”

Sozzani was undeniably a breath of fresh air and a voice of change in the fashion industry, and she will truly be missed.

Were you a fan of Franca Sozzani’s work? What we your favorite piece she worked on for Vogue Italia?

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