Earlier this week it was announced that Vanity Fair's longtime editor Graydon Carter would be succeeded by Radhika Jones. On Twitter — where people tend to be the most ruthless regarding any little thing — the news was met with absolute elation; not only because Jones is a woman of color (a rarity still in the upper echelons of the editorial world), but because her background as editorial director of the books department at The New York Times, and formerly at Time and The Paris Review, meant the magazine would be in the hands of an intelligent woman with intellectual leanings; a woman who would surely bring a new point of view to the world of celebrities and Hollywood.
In the midst of these times in our culture where women are fighting sexist behavior on so many different levels and when feminism is the buzzword on everyone's lips, Jones' naming seemed like a massive step forward for Condé Nast. So it was a shock today to see an article published by WWD spread the gossip that a fashion editor at Vanity Fair has been talking to "industry peers" about Jones' alleged "lack of style."
According to the WWD report, the fashion editor took issue with Jones' choice to wear a "navy shiftdress strewn with zippers," with an apparently even more "egregious pair of tights illustrated with cartoon foxes," during one of her first meetings with her new team. That same editor claims that Anna Wintour "fixed one of her trademark stoic glares upon Jones’ hosiery throughout the duration of the staff meeting." This not only ignores the fact that Wintour was intricately involved in Jones' hiring, it unfairly paints the Condé Nast artistic director as superficial. (It might also explain why she is perennially in sunglasses, so people can't make assumptions about her gaze.) Reading the story, I was left puzzled, wondering: Why would anyone choose to publish this?
That people will always gossip is a given in media. But WWD is not Page Six. They are in the business of the fashion industry — not gossip — and thus we have to ask what statement they are trying to send by publishing something like this. Vanity Fair is not a fashion magazine, and Jones is not a fashion editor. Hell, even if she was, would that give them the right to talk about her clothes in such a way? For a woman who has made a career as an intellectual, do we really need to amplify the ignorant opinions of a random editor just so we can have another unnecessary conversation about an accomplished woman's appearance? I think we all know the answer to that question.
Oh, and one more thing: Phoebe Philo's beautiful and influential fall 2015 Celine collection featured a recurring fox motif. And, you know, if Philo says foxes are a cool, who are we to argue?
We've reached out to WWD and Vanity Fair for comment, and will update this story when we hear back from them.