In a surprising move, Condé Nast announced today that Allure's founding editor in chief, Linda Wells, is stepping down after more than two decades at the helm.
Her replacement, effective immediately, is Michelle Lee, who was most recently editor in chief and chief marketing officer at Nylon Media. Prior to that, Lee was chief content and strategy officer at Magnified Media, a branded content and custom publishing agency. She spent 7 years as editor in chief of In Touch Weekly, and held editorial positions at Condé Nast titles Glamour and Mademoiselle early in her career.
In a statement, Condé Nast president Bob Sauerberg said Lee's appointment marks "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."
At Nylon, Lee held a unique dual role that included both editorial and advertising duties. Hired as the magazine's editor in chief in 2014, she added the title of head of brand strategy—then CMO—earlier this year. In addition to overseeing Nylon's editorial staff, Lee was in charge of the company's native ad strategy and helped launch its in-house creative agency, Nylon Studio. With Condé Nast's existing editors becoming increasingly involved in the business side—the most notable example being the launch of 23 Stories, the company's in-house native content studio that pairs editors with brands—it seems that Lee would fit the mold of the "new" Condé editor.
It's also worth noting that Condé Nast has hired a particularly advertiser-friendly editor to oversee Allure—a magazine that, under Wells, had a reputation in the beauty industry for remaining largely independent of advertiser pressure when it came to product reviews. As a result, its annual Best of Beauty Awards have become highly respected among brands and consumers. Best of Beauty has also proven to be a lucrative business for Allure, with licensing of the seal rising 400 percent in the past four years.
As for Wells, who founded Allure in 1991, Condé Nast said that she will be "transitioning to an advisory role" at the company. The statement added that, in honor of "her extraordinary contributions to the brand and the industry," she will retain the title of founding editor on Allure's masthead.
Wells is one of the last long-standing editors at Condé Nast. Of current Condé editors, Anna Wintour has been atop Vogue since 1988, Graydon Carter has been editor of Vanity Fair since 1992, and David Remnick has led The New Yorker since 1998.