September 12th, 2010
Fashion Bomb Exclusive, Fashion News
Fashion Bomb Exclusive: Joe Zee Responds to Criticism Over Gabourey Sidibe’s October Elle Cover
By Claire

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of attending a Q & A session with Elle Magazine’s Creative Director Joe Zee in American Express’ Sky Box at Lincoln Center:

After a brief introduction, the moderator opened the floor, so I had to ask about the choice of Gabourey Sidibe as a covergirl for one of Elle’s four 25th anniversary covers. He said, “We chose four girls, Lauren Conrad, Amanda Seyfried, Gabourey, and Megan Fox because they are all about 25 -years-old and have been smart in their careers. With Gabourey specifically, she scored an Oscar nomination this year, a milestone actresses who have been in the industry for years dream of reaching. I thought she was an amazing choice.”

I had to press about the choice of her less-than-flattering wig and also why they chose to feature just her face instead of a full body shot. He said, ‘Well Gabourey came with her own hair, I had nothing to do with the hair,” he explained, “And with the crop of the photo, we thought it best reflected her bubbly personality. When she comes into a room, she’s not Precious. She’s talkative, bright, and a total movie star. I chose the green dress because I wanted her to look like a Hollywood Starlet. And we chose this shot because I felt she carries most of her spirit and personality in her face.”
Sounds like a solid explanation.

What do you think?

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36 Responses to “Fashion Bomb Exclusive: Joe Zee Responds to Criticism Over Gabourey Sidibe’s October Elle Cover”

  1. the truth says:

    Sounds like one excuse after another. And it’s their job to make her look good, regardless of whether or not she arrived with the wig.

  2. Honesty says:

    I agree with the truth’s statement. It does sound like one excuse after another. What do you expect Joe to say though.

  3. Taylor says:

    I surprisingly am going to side with Joe. Sounds legit to me.

  4. Frost says:

    How is it an excuse? I think anything he would have said, people would claim it was an “excuse” when it reality, it’s just the answer.

  5. Mz. Bronze says:

    Well. She brought her own wig. Were they supposed to photoshop it with a glossy sheen?

  6. tia says:

    I have to be honest….i hate it.

  7. 05girl says:

    i had to pause at “actresses that have been smart with their careers.” Megan Fox, really? and Gabby has barely had a career. but whatevs.

  8. sun.kissed says:

    Sounds like Joe gave the politically correct answers. Sounds better than ‘we didn’t know what to do with that black girl’s hair, we gave her that dress because that’s the only one she could fit and we cropped the pic because she’s too big.”

  9. vanessa says:

    what do you expect him to say?

    I mean it’s not like his denying that her hair was busted or not he just straight up said she came with it that way ( I guess they offered to change it but she shot them down with the request).

    The bubbly personality quote….probably a nice way of saying she was too fat to be on our cover/ we couldn’t style her in a way that would make her look okay.

  10. Joanne_ says:

    Whoa, he lost weight! Anywho, if that’s the hair she came in with, somebody sue her hair stylist, STAT.
    I think the close up pic makes her look even bigger..idk. And I personally like the color of the dress…but hey, to each its own.

  11. Lola says:

    DEAD @ Gabourey came in with her own hair.

    LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL!!!! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DEAD! DEAD! DEAD! That was really funny. Major shade. LOL

    With that said, that’s not an excuse Mr. Zee. When all those young bland actresses come to your studio with their stringy, thin hair don’t you have flowy and expensive weave tracks waiting for them?? why couldn’t you do the same with Gabs? I’m sure you have at least one black hairstylist at the Elle office who could have done something with Gabs’ hair. She looked a hot mess on that cover with that dry, crusty weave. Poor thang. SMH

  12. Lola says:

    I can’t believe you guys are buying the “she came with her own wig” excuse. Seriously? how many white actresses come to an ELLE photoshoot with the long, flowy weave already tracked in? how many of them? It is the magazine’s responsibility to take care of such things. They didn’t bother with Gabby because they don’t consider her to a beauty girl. That’s just the simple truth.

  13. tee says:

    Excuses, Excuses, Excuses! They are wrong for that cover! So her in a full/half body shot wouldn’t have reflected her bubbly personality?

  14. Dionne says:

    A photo shoot is made up of wardrobe stylists, makeup stylists and hair stylists. Furthermore, a concept is usually discussed with the actress or her “handlers” beforehand, so his reasoning doesn’t hold much water with me. On the other hand, Gabbey could’ve refused to take off her wig and asked them to work around it and Joe Zee’s just being nice about it. While her face DOES look fresh and youthful, the hair messes up the whole thing.

  15. Briana says:

    Thank you so much for trying to attempt to see what was going on in the mind of Elle. Sometimes thought and intent don’t sync the way we would like, as we all know.

    KeyWord: Execution, Execution Execution…

    The double entendre here is: Did they properly, Execute or Execute
    Did they “carry out & accomplish” the idea or completely “murder and assassinate”

    That idea sounds great in words… But since when are there excuses in the fashion industry?

  16. Renee says:

    ELLE is a fashion magazine, if one thing they should be able to do right is a fashion spread for anyone!!! There is no way the staff at a fashion magazine thought Gabby cover was just a great as the other 3. Someone at ELLE should have taken pointers from the team that styles Amber Riley from GLEE. She always looks cute and youthful, even though she a curvy girl!!!

  17. Leigh says:

    nuh uh! they needed to YANK that wig off and say NO! not on OUR product and give her better hair, if she really “came with her own hair”

    ….that WIG ruined the cover. SIMPLE.

  18. Dobe says:

    LMAO @ “Well Gabourey came with her own hair, I had nothing to do with the hair”… straight up and real! What do you want the guy to do? Aside from the horrendous wig, I don’t see anything else wrong with this cover.

  19. boooom! says:

    I don’t think he gave excuses. If Elle thought Gabby was too fat, black / ugly they wouldn’t have chosen her for their cover! Minus that pathetic wig, I actually like the pic!

  20. wallflower says:

    I still don’t understand why everyone else got a wardrobe change for their second cover, and Gabby stayed in the same dress (which I hate, btw).

    Also, remember that Gabby is a new star, she may not have the hair and makeup entourage that someone like Megan Fox has. If this is the case, then Elle should have been especially sensitive to her styling because she doesn’t have the same resources as those white actress (who have been in the glamour game a lot longer than she has).

  21. Niki says:

    This feels like an ‘oh, so you want a big black women to be on a beauty mag cover? take that’. It truly feels like they’re trying to appease the noise on being all-embracing but they aren’t embracing jack. She brought her own hair, really? You jeopardize your magazine’s cover & cred cause she BROUGHT HER OWN HAIR? Please, honour us with something more original.

  22. zy says:

    It’s definitely an excuse but frankly, what else is he going to say? he has to make it sound plausible one way or the other so here you go… i think whomever styled this shoot should be put out because quite frankly, whether or not she came with her own hair, it’s up to the stylists at the shoot to make her look her best and she looks much LESS than her best in this pic. I’m at a loss as to why this woman is never styled properly. *smh*

  23. mimi says:

    why didn’t they photoshop her arms, lookin like hotlinks? Why did they even both to put her on the cover, couldn’t they put zoe saldana or someone else damn?

  24. jboggie says:

    I agree with the comment regarding lack of resources for Gabby. The film was an indie already so I can imagine that her paycheque was not that big, so she has no Glam squad to help her. Yes the hair was bad, but I believe she probably didnt want to take it off, plus even Beyonce’s lace fronts can look bad. Also even though I dont believe she will have much of a career going forward, I commend ELLE for doing it they are just trying to be diverse. but the printed issue that she is on the outside cover of won’t sell anyway, no love lost let her be. Trust me I would love to be yanked off the street and become the next big thing anyday even if its just one movie. Who are we to talk badly about how she looks. She did an amazing job in Precious.

  25. Allison says:

    I don’t care how she looks on the cover. I’m just happy to see her on the cover. As an avid reader of Elle it’s refreshing to see not only a black woman on the cover, but an obese black woman. Hopefully this breaks the trend of having to be a size 0 and look a certain way to be a cover girl. As much as I love Jennifer Aniston, Lauren Conrad, etc. I’m really sick of seeing the same faces.

  26. robin says:

    Look the pic was cropped because she is just too big to put on the cover in a full body pic and she does carry the best thing about her in her face. It is not like the girl is a sex symbol or anything. I think the hair comment is an excuse but shoot I would not want her whole body on the cover of my magazine either so there. I would do Queen Latifah I would want people who were a size healthy and not too damn big to be healthy!

  27. [...] sounds like they colorized her. Now, can we talk about that wig?! Impressively, Fashion Bomb has an exclusive response from Elle’s Joe Zee (Olivia’s boss on The City, Season [...]

  28. Amberpeige says:

    I’ll let Joe go on this one, she came with the wig…Photoshop can only do so much

  29. [...] Ciara was at an event for ASCAP this weekend. And did she walk in with the same wig Joe Zee claims Gabby Sidibe did for her ELLE magazine shoot? *sigh* When bad wigs happen to pretty people. A [...]

  30. myra says:

    I think ppl are forgetting what world we live a kind and caring world Gabby full body would have been featured with a rocking hairstyle and fab makeup and glam wardrobe but that’s not the world we live in. Unfortunately we live in a superficial world that doesn’t care about the greatness of personality and twinkle in her smile but only her dress size. Regardless of her hair choice it couldn’t been styled or something and the dress looks as if its just meant to bind her body down..overall to cut through the media politics and bull ish ..her hair didn’t matter because she was going to look a mess or unattractive anyway because she is a large women so why try to make a Hyundai look like a Bentley. This is just my opinion but I think if it was anyone else sizes 0-6 maybe 8 they would’ve looked flyy and that’s a very bitter truth.

  31. I'm over Gabby says:

    Why was this cover even an issue? I don’t get it.

    Gabby is hard to shoot period, not very attractive in person and that’s not really going to change much in photo. There has to be raw material to work with and there’s not much.

    I don’t get the rush to her defense honestly. Gabby isn’t the universal symbol for Black women so give me a break.

  32. It’s an issue needs to be addressed. I think this article just did a good job.

  33. Jasmine says:

    I really don’t get it – why are people criticizing the staff at Elle? I mean, whoever that cover model is, look at her!!! There’s this saying “putting lipstick on a pig…” Like it or not, the world is judgemental and all about appearances. For readers to blame anyone for not making that hideous mess beautiful -darlings, there’s only so much that can be photoshopped and covered… Imo, that girl was uber lucky to have been on the cover of a women’s magazine looking the way she did!

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