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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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