LONDON — Angelica Cheung, the founding editor of Vogue China, is leaving after 16 years at the helm of the title, according to an internal memo seen by WWD. Her last day will be Dec. 8.
No successor has yet been named and Cheung’s next move is not yet clear. Condé Nast China could not be reached for comment at press time.
Her departure marks another round of big changes at Condé Nast China. In October, the fashion publisher brought in Li Li to replace Sophia Liao, who was unceremoniously let go on Sept. 9, as its new China head.
“After 16 successful years of helping build our business in China, Angelica Cheung, the founding editor on Vogue China has decided to step down from her position after releasing the celebratory 15th-anniversary issue. A decision like this is never easy, but on behalf of our Condé Nast leadership team, we are all very supportive of Angelica’s desire to start the next chapter of her remarkable career,” Li said in the memo.
She added that until a new editor in chief is found, Anna Wintour, who now oversees the global content direction, will work closely with her and Denise Suen, managing editor at Vogue China to ensure a smooth transition.
Arguably the most powerful woman in the Chinese fashion industry, Cheung has been at Vogue China since the magazine’s launch in 2005. Before that, she was the editorial director of Elle China and editor in chief of Marie Claire in Hong Kong.
It signals the close of an era for Chinese fashion publications. Other influential peers such as Su Mang, Xiao Xue, and Shaway Yeh — formerly editorial directors at the Chinese editions of Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, and Modern Weekly, respectively — have all left the fashion publishing industry.
“Saying goodbye is never easy, but it was also never my plan to stay this long,” Cheung told WWD. “Originally I was going to launch the magazine and then pursue a legal career. It didn’t happen that way. Then came the five-year mark, the 10-year mark and, now, the 15-year mark, and I feel it is the perfect milestone to sign off on. I am particularly proud of introducing top international creative talents to Vogue China, working with countless international brands with their China expansion, launching the careers of many Chinese models, and supporting a generation of Chinese designers. Through the process, I formed fabulous partnerships and friendships, not just in China but also internationally that I will treasure forever.”
“My last day with the company, December 8, is precisely 16 years to the day I started at Vogue. On that day in 2004, in a small boutique hotel in Shanghai Xintiandi, I presented to Conde Nast executives a 130-page deck of A4 sheets, with cutout pictures, hand-drawn illustrations, a slew of handwritten margin notes, put together in the bedroom of my apartment. And that was the first blueprint for Vogue China. It energized everybody, all were instantly convinced that Vogue China would be a success. The first edition was a sell-out and the rest is history.”
“I could not have done it without my diligent and dedicated team. They have been a big part of my life and I will forever treasure our bond and friendship. Huge thanks to everyone who has helped and supported me over the years. It’s been the most thrilling professional journey any one could ever ask for. I wish Vogue continued success,” Cheung wrote.
Born in 1966 in Beijing and growing up during the Cultural Revolution, Cheung is the daughter of a Chinese diplomat. She obtained her degrees in law and English at Peking University, and started her career in media as a journalist at the Eastern Express, an English-language newspaper in Hong Kong. She later launched Hong Kong iMail in 1999 as executive editor, and became associate publisher of English-language fashion magazine B International, and editor in chief of Marie Claire Hong Kong in 2001.
She moved back to Shanghai in 2003 to take on the role of editorial director of Elle China, and later moved to Conde Nast China to work on the launch of Vogue China in 2005.
Over the last 16 years, Cheung created what is considered one of the most commercially successful editions of Vogue. She has also launched spin-off titles Vogue Me and Vogue Film to tap into China’s younger generation, and the entertainment industry, to great success.
She has also been instrumental in nurturing a generation of Chinese supermodels, helping to pair Chinese models with major fashion photographers for cover shoots–propelling Du Juan, Liu Wen, Shu Pei, Ming Xi, He Cong, and many more to international markets.
She told WWD earlier: “The reason why Vogue China has been successful from day one is that we mix the Chinese and international side really, really well. I think that’s what China is about today…So this is the magazine that represents today’s mood of the Chinese — which is when China meets the world. “
Cheung may have been preparing for life after beyond Condé Nast for some time. Earlier this year, she started a personal account on Xiaohongshu to share her personal life and work routine. She lives in Beijing with her husband Mark Graham, and her daughter Hayley.