Franca - The best smile in the Fashion Industry
My first memory and first discovery of Franca Sozzani, was during my time at College. I remember being in the library browsing for inspiration and I discovered an article online talking about Vogue Italia's 'Black Issue'. Published in July 2008, the issue featured only black models and articles about black-related subjects throughout the entire magazine. Being the editor in chief, it was Franca's decision to enthusiastically endorse how beautiful being black is and celebrated beautiful black women in the fashion industry and beyond.
She said she was inspired by the untapped potential of black models and that the idea was triggered whilst sitting at the runways of Europe. "I was at the shows, and of all the white models, there was nobody who struck me: not one name, not one face." Furthermore, the issue sold out in the US and UK in 72 hours and Vogue Italia had to reprint an extra 60,000 copies across 3 countries alone. Since then, I avidly followed the fashion publication as one to be reckoned with and that issue in particular will always hold a special place in my heart.
What I admired so much about Franca, is that she truly fought for what she believed in, whether people liked it or not nor did she make the focus on achieving record sales. She used her title and presence as a platform to discuss broader issues, as well as some questionable obsessions of the world, to integrate them within fashion stories. As much as Franca had a passion and extensive knowledge of fashion, ultimately she stood for change.
Take Vogue Italia's August 2010 cover story titled 'Water & Oil'. Shot by the legendary Steven Meisel, model Kristen McMenamy can be seen dramatically laid, almost lifeless across a dismal coastline, blackened by carbon, graphite, petrol and oil. The editorial was considered highly controversial as in April of that year, the world witnessed the Deepwater Horizon Explosion causing one of the largest off-shore oil spills in history. Many viewed the editorial as disrespectfully glamourising the catastrophe to make it seem 'fashionable' - and although this sensitive observation is understandable; it showed me a glimpse of the type of Woman, Franca Sozzani was. She was daring and dedicated to her vision, choices and beliefs resulting in such unforgettable images, created purposely to unnerve the viewer to capture the reality of the situation.
Hearing news that anybody has passed away is always a sad moment to acknowledge, especially when that person has held such an influential impact over yourself and your life. Franca Sozzani held that influence over me, I am absolutely devastated over her loss but as I sat there for a moment to collate my memories and thoughts, it instantly made me think - wow, what an incredible Woman. Whether you are familiar with her or not, we can all learn a lot from Mrs Sozzani. Her strength of character, her profound work and vision. A driven, fearless Woman with an otherworldly beauty and captivating personality that uplifted all in its presence. And yes, she had the most beautiful smile in the fashion industry.
Dear Franca, thank you for all that you taught us and for all you stood for.