U.S.-born stylist and editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson has announced she has stepped down from her role as Vogue global contributing editor. She made the news official on Business of Fashion‘s podcast where she stated, “The truth of the matter is we grow and sometimes our containers don’t grow with us. And so I am excited to build a new container for all of these ideas and this energy.”
Rumors she was no longer with the publication began to circulate back in mid-October when she removed the title Vogue editor from her profile. During the same period, she took to Instagram Stories where she spoke out against the Israel-Hamas War, describing Israel as an “apartheid state,” adding its attacks on Palestine were the equivalent of “genocide.”
When Vogue was asked to provide feedback on her comments, a spokesperson told the NY Post, “Gabriella’s social media posts and opinions are her own and do not represent those of the company.” At the time, a second, unnamed Vogue source noted that Karefa-Johnson was not a full-time employee at the magazine, noting she was not asked by Vogue parent company Condé Nast to remove Vogue editor from her bio.
On the podcast, Karefa-Johnson seemingly pushed back on speculation she was forced out by Vogue for her stance on the Israel-Hamas war, stating, “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.”
Karefa-Johnson began working at Vogue in 2013 as a features assistant. Four years later after she achieved the role of associate editor, she moved over to Vice’s Garage where she held the role of style director. She returned in 2020 to Vogue where she styled a series of high-profile covers.
Notably, Karefa-Johnson was the first Black woman to style a Vogue cover, the January 2021 edition featuring Paloma Elsesser. She followed up with a cover story featuring Kamala Harris, a Vogue coming out moment for the newly-elected vice president. During the Business of Fashion podcast, she addressed the blowback she received for the cover, which was deemed by many as too casual given Harris’ position as the first Black woman vice president.
Never shy about stating her opinion, Karefa-Johnson famously scuffled online with Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) following her criticism of the “white lives matter” t-shirts he included in a Yeezy fashion presentation held in Paris in October 2022.
Ye immediately clapped back on Instagram where he questioned Karefa-Johnson’s fashion acumen, writing, “This is not a fashion person,” under a since-deleted photo of her wearing brown boots, a striped skirt, a yellow t-shirt and a trench coat and a blue Balenciaga purse. In another post, he zeroed in on her high-heel, lace-up Timberland boots, writing, “I KNOOOOOW ANNA HAAAATES THESE BOOTS,” a reference to Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.