Three Miss America officials resign, one apologizes to ex-winner over email scandal

This Aug. 30, 2017 photo shows Josh Randle, president of the Miss America Organization, speaking at a welcoming ceremony for pageant contestants in Atlantic City N.J. (AP)
Updated 24 December 2017
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Three Miss America officials resign, one apologizes to ex-winner over email scandal

ATLANTIC CITY: The top leadership of the Miss America Organization, implicated in an email scandal that targeted past pageant winners for abuse based on their appearance, intellect and sex lives, resigned on Saturday, with the outgoing president apologizing to a winner whose weight he ridiculed.
The president, Josh Randle, told The Associated Press his comment responding to an email to his private account about the physical appearance of 2013 winner Mallory Hagan came months before he started working for the Miss America Organization in 2015. But he said it was wrong.
“I apologize to Mallory for my lapse in judgment,” Randle said on Saturday. “It does not reflect my values or the values I worked to promote at the Miss America Organization. Although this terrible situation was not caused or driven by me, in light of recent events and new developments, I am no longer willing to continue in my capacity as president and earlier today offered my resignation to the MAO Board of Directors.”
Randle said his resignation was voluntary and had not been requested by the board of Miss America, which is based in Atlantic City.
Hagan did not respond to a message seeking comment on the resignations of Randle, CEO Sam Haskell and Chairman Lynn Weidner.
Weidner also did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Saturday. But a day earlier on Facebook, she defended herself against an allegation by former Miss America Gretchen Carlson that Weidner solicited former Miss Americas to attack other former title winners who were not supportive of Haskell. Weidner also expressed support for the Miss America Organization.
“I truly love our Miss America scholarship program and it has been a privilege to contribute and to serve for so many years as a full time volunteer,” she wrote. “I have so much to be grateful for in my life and so much of that can be traced back to that day so long ago when I entered my local pageant.”
The scandal began Thursday, when the Huffington Post published leaked emails showing pageant officials ridiculing past Miss Americas, including crass and sometimes vulgar comments about them.
The emails included one that used a vulgar term for female genitalia to refer to past Miss America winners, one that wished that a particular former Miss America had died and others that speculated about how many sex partners Hagan has had.
Randle noted that the worst communications were exchanged in 2013 and 2014, years before he joined the Miss America Organization, and said the article’s implication of “complicit participation on my part in a years long array of inappropriate email communication” is untrue.
Haskell’s resignation is effective immediately, while Randle and Weidner will remain for a few weeks to help with a leadership transition. Dan Meyers, who had been vice chairman of the board, was named interim chairman.
The organization announced the resignations a day after dozens of former Miss Americas, including Hagan, signed a petition calling on the group’s leadership to step down because of the emails.
The emails already cost the pageant its television production partner and raised questions about the future of the nationally televised broadcast from Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall the week after Labor Day each year. Dick Clark Productions told the AP on Thursday that it cut ties with the Miss America Organization over the emails, calling them “appalling.”
Also on Saturday, one of the main recipients of fundraising from the Miss America Organization said it was reviewing its association with Miss America. The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals said it was “conducting an immediate review of the situation and will take appropriate actions.”
And New Jersey officials are reviewing their Miss America Organization contract, in which the state still owes $4 million toward the cost of next year’s pageant.


No hard feelings: Paris fashion star Abloh reaches out to Kanye West

The relationship between West and Abloh has been tested after the later was named head of menswear at Louis Vuitton in March. (AFP)
Updated 19 June 2018
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No hard feelings: Paris fashion star Abloh reaches out to Kanye West

  • Abloh will show his own Off-White label in Paris Wednesday before making his debut bow with the world’s biggest luxury brand on Thursday
  • Abloh grew up in Illinois where his seamstress mother taught him her trade as he studied engineering and later architecture. He has made it clear his clothes will be much more street

PARIS: Virgil Abloh paid tribute to his friend and longtime collaborator Kanye West as the US designer took star billing as Paris men’s fashion week began Tuesday.
Relations between the pair have been tested since Abloh was named head of menswear at Louis Vuitton in March, with the rapper saying it was “hurtful” to lose his muse and erstwhile artistic director.
West has made no secret of his own ambitions to lead a major luxury brand as a designer, and revealed last month that he had also once been in talks with Louis Vuitton’s owner, French fashion magnate Bernard Arnault.
Abloh — the son of Ghanaian immigrants — will show his own Off-White label in Paris Wednesday before making his debut bow with the world’s biggest luxury brand on Thursday.
As he put the finishing touches to his collections he posted a photo of Kanye West to his 2.3 million Instagram followers with legend, “The architect of it all.”
West’s wife Kim Kardashian responded with emojis of a heart and two fires to signal her approval. The rapper — who has his own Yeezy line for Adidas — remained silent.
But he told US radio star Charlamagne tha God in a wide-ranging interview last month that there were no hard feelings.
“These things are hurtful when you are working with a talent like... Virgil and somebody comes through and says ‘Bam! I am going to take Virgil.’
“There is some validation in that someone that I came up with is now the head (of menswear) of Louis Vuitton,” West added.
Abloh, 38, is only the second black man to rise to the top of a big Paris fashion house, with French designer Olivier Rousteing responsible for both Balmain’s men and women’s lines.
As well as his nod to his former employer, Abloh dropped hints on social media that he was about to give the aristocratic Vuitton label a strong dose of black empowerment and streetwear style.
Vuitton’s previous designer, Briton Kim Jones — who makes his own debut for Dior Homme on Saturday — often referenced British colonial and safari chic in his clothes.
Abloh grew up in Illinois where his seamstress mother taught him her trade as he studied engineering and later architecture. He has made it clear his clothes will be much more street.
He posted films on Instagram of cotton plants and ceramic neck chains, in what could be seen as references to slavery, as well as a Louis Vuitton record box inspired by hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash, “where you can put your coat in while DJing, shielding it from smoky clubs and spilled drinks.”
Abloh had worked hand in glove with West for more than 15 years. They designed clothes together on Photoshop and were $500-a-month interns under Karl Lagerfeld at Fendi in Rome in 2009 even though the rapper already had a string of Grammy awards under his belt.
West said that he only found out about Abloh taking over at Vuitton as the appointment was announced in March. “He (Abloh) made the call two minutes before it hit the Internet... He had told me he was looking at Versace too... but he knew he was going to Louis Vuitton,” he added.
West admitted days later in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter that the news had weighed on him. “It’s not bad or good,” he said.
Abloh has built up a celebrity following at Off-White with high-profile collaborations with Nike, Jimmy Choo and Moncler. Such has been the buzz that fashionistas jostled each other to get into his show in Paris last March.
Not everyone, however, is sold on streetwear’s inexorable rise. New York Times critic Guy Trebay said a “lot of what turns up on the runways lately looks less designed than crowdsourced.”
The young German and Swedish brands CMMN SWDN and Gmbh kicked fashion week off on Tuesday evening after a dance show by choreographer Mathilde Monnier inspired by shoemaker J.M. Weston.
French label Pigalle also tried to rethink the catwalk by presenting its new collection during an hour-long music and dance show at one of the French capital’s most prestigious concert halls.