VF’S NEW FACE(S): The winds of change keep blowing at Condé Nast and this time they’ve come to Vanity Fair.

On Friday the company named GQ’s Chris Mitchell vice president and publisher of the glossy, following the promotion of longtime publisher Edward Menicheschi to chief marketing officer and president of Condé Nast’s Media Group two weeks earlier.

This story first appeared in the September 8, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The news reignited those nagging rumors that VF editor in chief Graydon Carter might be eyeing an earlier-than-expected departure from the magazine. Carter has helmed the title since 1992 and reupped his contract last year with a three-year extension. But sources told WWD that Condé has the right to buy out Carter’s contract at any time.

A spokeswoman for Vanity Fair denied rumors, adding: “Graydon has absolutely no plans to retire.”

To back that up, some pointed to Carter’s involvement in Mitchell’s appointment, while others put less importance on that tidbit of information. Mitchell was said to be in a horse race for the VF post with Wired’s Howard Mittman, who wound up getting Mitchell’s publisher job at GQ.

Perhaps why the rumor won’t die is that sources close to Carter told WWD that he has designs on leaving VF but would likely wait until Condé relocated its headquarters from 4 Times Square to One World Trade Center. That move will be completed by early 2015.

So who would be in the running for one of publishing’s most visible and powerful editorships? Speculation revolves around Janice Min, copresident and chief creative officer at Guggenheim Media, which publishes The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, who’s apparently caught the favorable attention of Condé creative director Anna Wintour; New York Magazine editor in chief Adam Moss (a perennial candidate for every significant editorship that opens up, although his Hollywood hosting skills might be dubious), and GQ editor in chief Jim Nelson (believed to be one of a handful of editors who Wintour is soliciting for a “forum” for editorial feedback and strategy).

The three editors did not respond to request seeking comment.

Insiders close to Moss said he is not interested in pursuing the VF job. So Min appears to be the frontrunner. Aside from Wintour’s favor, Min is seen as having the Rolodex and Hollywood cred needed for the job.

British GQ’s editor Dylan Jones and Bon Appétit editor in chief Adam Rapoport (also reportedly tapped by Wintour for his thoughts on editorial issues) have also been floated as dark horses.

Although the appointment for a VF editor would not rest squarely on Wintour’s shoulders, her endorsement would secure a virtual lock on the job. She has ushered in a wave of new editors at Condé Nast, including Condé Nast Traveler’s Pilar Guzmán, Self’s Joyce Chang, Lucky’s Eva Chen (before the spin-off to Beachmint) and Brides’ Keija Minor.

Let the auditions begin!

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