Franca Sozzani, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia, Dies at 66

Franca Sozzani - Getty - H 2016
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The legendary editor died on Thursday.

Franca Sozzani, the longtime editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, died at age 66 on Thursday. She was battling a yearlong illness, reports British Vogue.

"Franca was one of the greatest editors who ever made a magazine," Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and chief executive of Conde Nast, said in a statement, according to British Vogue.

"She was by far the most talented, influential and important person within the Condé Nast International organization. She made Italian Vogue a powerful and influential voice in the worlds of fashion and photography by publishing ground-breaking photography and journalism," said Newhouse. "In doing so, she expanded Vogue beyond what had been the traditional model of a fashion magazine and often courted controversy by doing so. The greatest fashion photographers looked to Franca as the creative leader who would give them the freedom and the scope to produce their best work and they did so, month after month."

Sozzani, who was born in Mantua, Italy, began her career at Vogue Bambini in 1976, before leading the charge at Vogue Italia in 1988.

The outspoken editor pushed boundaries, dedicating issues to celebrating black women's beauty ("The Black Issue") and diving into the world of plastic surgery ("The Makeover Issue"). She also championed a group of photographers, including Bruce Weber, Peter Lindbergh, Ellen von Unwerth and longtime collaborator Steven Meisel.

In a tribute to Sozzani, Anna Wintour called her longtime friend "warm, clever, funny, and someone who could give the Sphinx a run for its money when it comes to keeping a confidence." Wintour added, "She was also the hardest-working person I have known, and with an envy-inducing ease with multitasking."

"RIP #FrancaSozzani," Marc Jacobs wrote on Twitter. "Her incredible contribution to fashion will be missed."

Kanye West also paid tribute to the late editor, writing, "Franca Sozzani was always so nice and sincere. You will be deeply missed."

Earlier this month, Sozzani was honored with the Swarovski Award for Positive Change at the Fashion Awards. She served as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations.

Franca: Chaos and Creation, a documentary about Sozzani that was directed by her son, Francesco Carrozzini, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September. The premiere was attended by Naomi Campbell, Donatella Versace, Valentino Garavani and more.

Sozzani is survived by her son.