Gabriella Karefa-Johnson confirms she resigned from Vogue

Gabriella Karefa-Johnson confirms she resigned from Vogue

Gabriella Karefa-Johnson has confirmed her resignation from Vogue after officially joining the publication in 2013.

During an episode of The Business of Fashion podcast on 24 November, the fashion editor detailed her decision to not renew her contract as Global Fashion Director at large, in tandem with her industry plans moving forward.

The seasoned professional – known to be the first Black woman to style a cover shoot for American Vogue – has already imposed immutable influence, passion, and drive to effect change in fashion. Karefa-Johnson’s devotion to creating a still image that tells a larger story, for the sole benefit of impacting others, is one that often fizzles for professionals inside the competitive fashion industry.

In conversation with Imran Amed, the artist explained that her ultimate intention to make room for aspiring “little Gabriella Karefa-Johnsons” in the future was reflected through an eagerness for transparency. The two spoke about “burn out” and “pressure” within the fashion industry, arguing that a career in fashion shouldn’t force people to endure so much stress.

For Karefa-Johnson, working for highly-regarded publications previously brought about mental hardship for her. However, the nature of the environment wasn’t necessarily what convinced her to leave her position at Vogue. “The truth is I was a contracted employee there as the Global Fashion Director at large, and my contract was up for renewal, and I decided not to renew it,” she confessed. “That resignation was something that was right for me at the time, still is right for me.”

“The truth of the matter is like anything else, you know, we grow, and sometimes our containers don’t grow with us,” she continued. “And so I’m excited to build a new container for all of these ideas and this new energy.

“I loved and learned so much at Vogue magazine. It’s my home. I grew up there, and I can’t wait to take those tools and apply them in ways that are really just true to who I am and serve me and serve people who look like me and people listen and follow me. It’s really about serving that community now.”

Among Karefa-Johnson’s many Vogue cover shoots, there was one cover photo that was particularly striking in her opinion, for both good and bad reasons. In 2021, the fashion editor worked on Vice President Kamala Harris’ Vogue cover – a photograph that prompted widespread controversy and scrutiny.

For the magazine cover, the vice president was positioned in front of a waterfall of pink satin pouring down by her feet. Harris donned a black pantsuit and an honest smile, while she wore a pair of black and white high-top Converse – her favourite everyday shoe. According to Karefa-Johnson, the politician’s natural poise was captured in just 25 minutes because that’s all the time the vice president had for the day.

In addition to time constraints, Karefa-Johnson explained that there was a communication barrier due to Covid-19 masks and Harris’ large team of staff. The fashion editor was still able to successfully snap Harris in the way she intended, but backlash quickly followed as people criticised how Harris was presented.

Earlier in the interview, Karefa-Johnson called her younger self “witty, loud, and drive” – similarly to how she views herself now. Before Vogue, the fashion editor worked for Garage magazine under Vice Media, the juggernaut that recently filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

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