Speculation about Garcia's departure has swirled for months, especially after the arrival of Joe Zee at the beginning of 2007 as creative director. Observers questioned how the two would get along, and whether Zee would keep her on board.
Last spring, Garcia left the magazine on maternity leave, and began writing a monthly fashion column upon her return in the summer.
But even as rumors swirled over her future at the magazine, her profile continued to rise as a result of the popularity of "Project Runway." Her pregnancy and delivery of her baby boy were covered by People magazine, and she appeared in commercials for BlackBerry, though she was referred to by her Elle title, and she wrote a book, "The Little Black Book of Style." Garcia will also have a cameo in ABC's sitcom "Ugly Betty" in May.
There may have been warning signs last week that her Elle gig was up, though. On Tuesday, Elle hosted a dinner with Moschino to celebrate Simon Doonan's new book, "Eccentric Glamour: Creating an Insanely More Fashionable You," but Garcia was notably absent.
And a story in The Wall Street Journal on Friday also could have inadvertently foreshadowed Garcia's departure: a piece about fashion trends for spring quoted her, but excluded her role at Elle. Garcia was in her Elle office on Friday morning, but by the afternoon, sources said Hachette Filipacchi Media's Midtown offices were abuzz that she and the magazine had parted ways.
The reasons for her departure could not be learned as of press time, but it comes as "Project Runway" is headed for a new network. The Bravo reality show last week switched to Lifetime Television under a more lucrative contract. NBC Universal, Bravo's owner, has sued the Weinstein Co., producer of "Project Runway," over the move. The Lifetime deal takes effect with the fall season. Sources said the initial deal with "Project Runway" involved Elle for five seasons, stretching through this summer's competition.