7.26.2010

Is The Rage At ESSENCE Hiring A White Fashion Director Validated?


Alright, Glamazons: by now we're sure that you've read all about the news of ESSENCE magazine hiring Ellianna Placas as the new fashion director. What's the big deal?
Well, Placas just happens to be a white woman and ESSENCE just happens to be a publication for black women by black women.
Can you see how this could be a bit of a controversy now?
As two former of employees of the mag, you'd be correct in thinking that Coutura and I were immediately saddened upon hearing the news. (Heck, Coutura even worked in the fashion department!) Since Agnes Cammock left the post several years ago, the mag has had some difficulty in finding a new hire. However, Coutura and I know for a fact that some of the top people in black fashion voiced that they'd never take that position due to its many restraints.
Finally one was found: Billie Causieestko, but she lasted for less than a year before being let go. The position has been open for quite some time and an interim person was placed in by Time, Inc until a replacement could be found.
Enter Placas, who apparently has several years' magazine experience at pubs such as O Magazine and US Weekly.
According to a post on The Fashion Bomb, Michaela Davis (a former fashion director at ESSENCE) expressed feelings of hurt and disappointment at the hiring of Placas.
ESSENCE's former Beauty and Cover Director Mikki Taylor told The Glamazons that she'd heard of the news about Placas' hire while in Los Angeles but had no comments to make about the matter.
What do I think? I think that it's a known fact that the fashion department at ESSENCE has been in shambles for a long time now. If Placas can come in and use her contacts in the fashion world to bring in more money for the mag, then that's a good thing, right?
However, when you think about the historical aspect (as Davis points out) that should be upheld by ESSENCE by hiring only black women, then it is a rather sad thing. This could never be possible anyhow considering that it's owned by Time, Inc which (by law) is an equal opportunity employer.

What do you think about this, Glamazons? Will you continue to read ESSENCE knowing that there's a white fashion director?

xo
Ferocia

4 comments:

Southern Girl said...

I don't really care about the race of the fashion director, but more the fashions. Yes, there was a time when "For Us, By Us," was the credo, but seeing that Essence is a publicly owned country, that is no longer black owned, it was bound to happen. I was wondering what happened to Billie Causieestko because I really enjoyed her aesthetic. So, only time will tell how this new woman will do. I say give her a chance, yes it's a bit different, but obviously she has the background to fill the position. And if they didn't hire her just due to race, that would be discriminatory.

SA said...

I could understand the root of the controversy. Though, I know plenty of non-black writers who write for black publications. Perhaps Essence is seen in a different lens because of its sheer influence. But I agree with Southern Girl, give her a chance. It doesn't mean because she doesn't come from the same background that she won't be able to write for the needs warranted of the readers. I think qualified writers and editors should be versatile enough to be able to address whoever their audience is regardless of race, and maybe I think that is the bigger issue -- how qualified the person is and if they can continue to meet the needs of their readers.

Beautylicious said...

There are so many things wrong with this decision, but to forgo the obvious what sticks out vividly in my head is come fashion week the chair that says "Essence Mag Fashion Director" will have a white woman sitting there amongst her peers whom are all white. Not a black face in site. Its truly disheartening.

Frances Williams said...

Let's look at the BIG PICTURE...ESSENCE continuing to hold a high standard in fashion for the African American Community. Now, if your grandmother can do the job...hire her, no matter what race she is. YES, I UNDERSTAND THE ROOT OF THE MATTER..but the bottom line is the Fashion Dept of ESSENCE regaining ground and remaining stable. I don't care if it was a purple man with pink and yellow hair with two left feet...

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