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Essence Magazine Hires First White Fashion Director

Submitted by on July 26, 2010 – 2:08 pm6 Comments

According to Clutchmagonline.com, Essence magazine has hired its first “white” Fashion Director and the response has been less than positive.

Essence and owner/operator Time Warner have yet to officially announce the hiring but Media Bistro reveals the pick is Ellianna Placas, formerly of O: The Oprah Magazine and US Weekly. The report confirms Placas makes her official debut with Essence in their 40th anniversary commemorative September issue.

Check out part of Clutch’s feature on the issue:

On Friday evening, cultural critic and writer Michaela Angela Davis tweeted: “It is with a heavy, heavy heart I have learned that Essence magazine has engaged a white fashion director, this hurts, literally, spiritually.” Michaela’s tweet erupted a series of reactions, re-tweets, and scores of Facebook comments. Responses ranged from shock, disappointment to utter confusion.

Our immediate reaction? As the publication unofficially deemed “Essence‘s little sister”—a growing young urban women’s online brand for news, critical commentary, lifestyle, fashion and beauty—it felt like our Mom walked us hand in hand to the center of the biggest shopping mall in the state, turned around, and left us. But we are no longer the little girls eyeballing the glossy giant who taught us how to love ourselves. We’ve been finding our way through the life, love and labels for quite sometime now, and the likely abandonment of the counselor who taught us everything we know is now evolving into clearer overstanding. The pressing question for many of us is how much does Time Warner have to do with the hiring?

For many, the magazine’s bold step of hiring a white Fashion Director signals a new era–or the end of one. When we asked if this is an attempt to broaden the print’s demo, Michaela said, “Having worked at Essence, VIBE and Honey, I know all too well how incredibly difficult it is to get ad sales support. This is such a treacherous time for print.” But Michaela also says that Essence‘s long time cultural standpoint is the brand’s strongest selling point. “The greatest asset a brand can have is a unique promotable position. There is so much brand value there for Black and non-Black readers.” Michaela says if Essence forgoes it’s Black women’s posture, what would make its fashion pages any different from Vogue, In Style, or even O: The Oprah Magazine?

Loyal Essence readers and media insiders are eagerly awaiting an official announcement from the publication on the shocking decision, or better an explanation.

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  • zooyork says:


  • Opinionated says:

    OMG….this is beyond lame & utterly immature! Who gives a damn if the fashion director is black or white, and why would anyone have a problem with that? Seriously!!!! You guys are reading way too much into this! Can we finally stop the racial bullcrap and grow the hell up people! DAMN!!!!

  • OH SO NICE says:

    Well im not mad and im a black woman myself, but hey i guess that white woman had STYLE and they wanted her so congrats to her.

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  • smartee says:

    Opinionated, are you even black? If not, maybe you should do some damn research and look up statistics before commenting. Although I do think that it doesn’t matter what color an employee is, this is Essence magazine… A BLACK MAGAINE! What a lot of WHITE and other raced people don’t realize is that while the white people ran the job industries and the media, minorities had to create their own media for their own people. The writer who commented is just upset because she knows how hard it was and still is for minorities to get the same great job opportunities that many whites are offered. I wish people would read more and understand the struggles with different culture and races. Damn, you act as if though racism doesn’t exist. Before you look over my comment, I’m not saying that you have to be a certain race to have a certain job, it’s just that if all races/ethnicties and cultures were accpeted in mainstream magazines, then this problem wouldn’t even exist and that has yet to happen.

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