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GAME ON: Unlike during her White House tenure, Desirée Rogers was in a particularly chatty mood in the front row of the Jason Wu show Friday afternoon. Seated across the runway from the requisite starlets in attendance (Diane Kruger, Elisa Sednaoui and Katie Cassidy) and wearing her own Lanvin jersey dress instead of one of Wu’s designs (“I love his eveningwear”), Rogers was clearly projecting a down-to-business demeanor and with good reason: The former White House Social Secretary was recently named chief executive officer of the Chicago-based Johnson Publishing, owner of Ebony and other titles, whose ranks she had joined earlier in the summer as a consultant.
“[My] major goal is to take a look at the trends and just see everything obviously and really to just kind of get to know the scene a little bit better. We really are enlarging our space in Ebony in the fashion and beauty segments, so we really want to be current, we want to have the best stuff, we want to be a little edgy, so I’ve got to be here to see everything and meet everybody,” explained Rogers of her fashion week presence, which will include stops at Rodarte, Thakoon, Calvin Klein, Diane von Furstenberg and possibly Chado Ralph Rucci. Ebony has quite the fashion legacy to uphold, considering the late Eunice Johnson, a co-creator of the magazine with her husband, John, and of the successful traveling Ebony Fashion Fair, was also a huge couture collector.
“We’re looking at bringing [the fair] back,” said Rogers, who will be making the fashion week rounds for the first time in a media capacity after sitting front row a few seasons ago as a White House emissary. Though she doesn’t see much difference in her mind-set now versus her previous White House persona, her stylish appearances earned her plenty of flack.
“It’s enjoyable, but to me it’s always been about the business as well and being in tune with what is happening from a design perspective,” she said. “Whether it’s organizing events or creating a magazine or beauty product, you have to see what the trends are, you have to see what people are doing, you need to be around creative people to see what’s happening on the front end. And so hiding out in an office to me was never a way to see everything, be able to represent what was happening in this country,” said Rogers, adding, “Really being close to the artists is always important to me, even though I took big heat for it.”
— Vanessa Lawrence