Less than a month after Vogue style director Alexandra Kotur departed for Town & Country, contributing fashion editor Edward Enninful is heading to W to take over Alex White’s post as fashion and style director. White, who has been with the title for 16 years while working extensively as a stylist and creative director on the side, has stepped down to focus on her own projects.

“I’m very, very happy that she stayed on board and that she didn’t leave when Dennis [Freedman] left,” W’s editor in chief Stefano Tonchi said. “I think she lived through these very difficult months and delivered great fashion and great stories.”

This story first appeared in the April 27, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Before Condé Nast hired Tonchi to lead W last March, there were rumors that White was lobbying heavily for the top job at the magazine and even asked Karl Lagerfeld to write a letter of endorsement to company chairman S.I. Newhouse Jr. But Tonchi said he and White never had problems working together. “I think there are always so many gossips and so much talk that I don’t pay much attention. I don’t know if she did or if she didn’t,” Tonchi said. “It was her right to try to get this job. I think that was not against me, that was just something she tried to get for herself.”

According to Tonchi, he kept in close touch with White over the last year about whether she wanted to stay at the magazine, and ultimately the decision for her to leave was mutual. “She’s thinking very much about her own brand — the Alex White brand — and at a certain point that’s no longer what W is about,” he added.

“Totally on the same page,” White told WWD. “I helped with getting over the hump. Now it’s time for me to continue my freelance and explore the other things I’m working on,” including digital projects.

Tonchi indicated White is thinking about starting a magazine of her own, possibly online.

He announced the latest change during a production meeting in the magazine’s offices at 1166 Avenue of the Americas on Tuesday morning. Enninful and White were not present. One source at the magazine explained that White had a consistently full slate of side work with two small children and was often out of the office.

“Now I’m going to be focusing my editorial prowess on W,” Enninful said. His engagements as a freelance stylist for American and Italian Vogue, where he’s worked for more than a decade, are coming to an end. “Whenever a relationship ends it’s very sad,” he said.

Enninful said he likes the new direction of W under Tonchi and called the magazine a “great American institution and a great fashion institution.” “Pop culture, fashion, society — W is the original place for that,” he continued.

White was one of the last vestiges of the old guard at W, and with her departure the top tier of the masthead has completely turned over since Tonchi’s appointment. Beauty director Jane Larkworthy, senior fashion editor Carolyn Angel and senior editors Diane Solway and Jenny Comita are the highest-ranked editorial staffers remaining from the Patrick McCarthy era. McCarthy is the former chairman and editorial director of W.

With the addition of Enninful, whose family comes from Ghana, the W masthead is looking increasingly like the United Nations General Assembly, with delegates from Italy (Tonchi), Cuba (creative director Alex Gonzalez) and Colombia (features director Armand Limnander). Tonchi spoke highly of Enninful’s international background and his roots in independent fashion publishing. He began at i-D magazine in the U.K. as a teenager, before going on to work as a stylist for Vogues around the world. Tonchi said that Enninful will also be a great match for the new mood at the magazine.

“I was interested in his talent, but more than anything, the spirit of Edward,” Tonchi said. “Edward is a very positive, open, sunny person. He really captured my imagination.”

Tonchi and Enninful were seated next to each other at dinner for Balenciaga designer Nicola Ghesquière during Paris fashion week earlier this year, and they hit it off. “I didn’t really think about hiring him, I just thought he was incredibly joyful,” Tonchi added. They began discussing a job at the magazine earlier this month and talks moved forward quickly from there. Enninful’s first day is May 1.

Assistant managing editor Carl Germann is also leaving W to take over as managing editor of Martha Stewart Living.

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