After 24 Years, Allure Founder Linda Wells Replaced by Former Nylon Editor Michelle Lee


In a relatively shocking turn of events, longtime Allure magazine Editor-in-Chief/Founder Linda Wells has been replaced with Michelle Lee, who just left Nylon.

It was only last week that Lee suddenly exited Nylon after a year and a half (shortly after a slew of layoffs hit the publication), telling The Cut that she had “accepted a position at another company, which will be announced very soon.” Lee was replaced by Nylon’s Melissa Giannini.

As Condé Nast’s president Bob Sauerberg said in a statement:

“When Linda Wells launched Allure, it broke new ground and redefined the beauty category, and she leaves us with that rich heritage to build upon,” said Sauerberg. “Today we begin a new phase of innovation for the brand, with Michelle paving the way for the next wave of consumers who crave interactive beauty content that’s both inspiring and approachable.”

Allure is a brand unlike any other, and I’m looking forward to expanding our unique ability to inspire and empower through beauty to all platforms,” Lee added.

Though Lee’s youth and likely grasp of things like exciting types of “interactive beauty content” is clearly what prompted Condé’s switch in leader, this news is bound to make long-time Allure readers sad. Wells founded the magazine in 1991 after time spent at Vogue and The New York Times, and in an industry with numerous shake-ups (several of which have happened recently), and at a magazine all about beauty, the 56-year-old editor has been steadfast, praised for her refreshingly honest take on how much work it requires to stay looking a certain level of good.

“At a dinner party recently, an acquaintance air-kissed me and then shook her head,” Wells wrote in June in her goodbye to dermatologist Dr. Frederic Brandt about what a good doctor and friend Brandt was to her.

‘Why did you do that? Why did you put your real age in Allure?’ she asked. ‘You don’t look that old.’ I’m not going to dwell on the backhanded compliment. I’m going to focus on the reason I felt OK publishing my actual age and why I may look younger than that inflexible number. That reason is a person, and his name was Fredric Brandt.

Allure (which calls itself the only magazine to focus exclusively on beauty, as Lucky was once the only magazine to focus exclusively on shopping), is known for its annual Best of Beauty Awards, in which editors name their top products in variety of beauty categories, and its annual Naked Issue, but it’s also got beautiful photographs and essays by noteworthy authors. (Which is not to say that it has avoided your typical women’s magazine missteps.)

Wells, who published the book Confessions of a Beauty Editor in 2006, has yet to make a statement on her career shift, though Condé says she “will be transitioning to an advisory role” at the company.

Contact the author at [email protected].

Images via Getty (Wells on the left, Lee on the right)

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