I am deeply saddened by the tragic news that we have lost our dear friend Franca Sozzani, Editor of Vogue Italia
I had missed her warm and lively presence at the annual F4D First Ladies Luncheon at the UNGA this year, but thought she was busy at Milan Fashion Week.
I have fond and enduring memories of her visit to me in Nigeria along with Roberto Cavalli, in January 2012, to engage with front-line maternal and newborn health actions, when my Wellbeing Foundation Africa hosted the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon's Every Woman Every Child Initiative's Outreach to the African Creative Design, Fashion, Retail And Textile Sectors, which created a global platform for African Designers to rise, be globally recognised and shine - an incredible catalytic force that has seen global fashion houses, from Valentino to Marni and Stella Jean, embrace our local prints, the impact of which is beneficially exemplified today by our beloved nation's home grown #MadeInNigeria Campaign.
Franca had the unique gift of cutting through development challenges straight to solutions, indeed it was she who first remarked quietly to me, in that January of 2012, as we walked through a market in Mushin to see a traditional birth attendant at work - "Toyin, every woman I see has a mobile phone, but how many of your country's women have bank accounts?" - an early pointer to mobile telephony's role in engendering inclusive finance models for innovative action.
I remain equally humbled, honoured and appreciative, for the Fashion For Development "Angel Award" of recognition presented to me, an initiative which Franca championed so elegantly, in September 2012 at the United Nations General Assembly.
May Franca's incredibly special, uniquely generous and creative soul rest in peace, and continue to inspire brilliant and beautiful minds and arts around the world. Amen