A Werewolf Blog in Brooklyn

Vogue Sandy, you’re in fashion. | January 18, 2013

New York is a busy city of bright lights, big dreams, and unlimited glamour. It is a city that is known for it’s fashion, it has it’s own iconic t-shirt – you know the one, it says I heart NY. It’s got iconic shopping stores that are sought out, like Saks, Neiman Marcus, Bergdoff Goodman. It’s become a TV fashion icon through shows like Sex and the City and Gossip Girl.

So how is it, that doing a Vogue, fashion shoot in New York City, could be considered “offensive” as suggested by the Guardian Newspaper, or“incongruous” as described by the Huffington Post? Because Vogue magazine have decided to do a high end fashion shoot based around Hurricane Sandy.

Let’s try to remember that the New York Marathon that has been running for over forty two years, decided to not to go ahead after Hurricane Sandy. Out of respect, for those affected by it. As the Marathon, traditionally runs through all five boroughs.

So is it a problem that pretty people, want to appear to be paying homage to the style icon of a city, through demonstrating their creativity the only way they know how? By wearing high end fashion and looking beautiful against the non glamorous side of life in New York?

The Vogue photo shoot incorporates models in fashion, from designers like Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta, in ball gowns positioned with industrial workers and first responders, like the coast guard and the fire department.

The apparent intention of the editorial fashion shoot was to pay homage to New York’s unsung heroes, and those that are clearly a backbone, to a city that is dependent on people like them. The intention of the photo shoot is clear, as each page that features a photo, features a quote form a first responder worker and it is aiming to raise funds for the Hurricane Sandy relief.

The juxtoposition that seems to create the offense is putting something pretty against the memory of something horrible. It’s there that there is something that creates the idea of insensitivity. Because hardship is not pretty, and survival is barely glamorous. Exploitation is easy to cash in on and hard to justify. So the question is where the line into offense stands or why Vogue had to do a photo shoot like this.

Renowned Photographer Annie Lebowitz who shot the photos is hardly known for doing ordinary photos, and big things are expected of her, each time she does her stuff. The photos themselves, do not appear to be offensive in a traditional sense of the word. But the concept of the photo shoot, is what is at question.

But if you’ve ever watched an episode of America’s next top model, you’d know that the fashion industry is in general, nuts. They do all manner of weird shit to make themselves relevant, to get noticed, to give themselves a sense of artistic merit and justification for showing the world what clothes look like. Because in the end, when you take away all the metaphors and adjectives and the like, it really is just a form of catalogue advertising for clothes. But it’s clothes that most of the general population, can’t afford or won’t wear.
Ballgowns worth thousand of dollars, are not what one dresses in to go and pick up a paper, most of the time.

The people most affected by Hurricane Sandy are unlikely to be the prime target audience for these photos to be seen by, yet these photos are in a way representative of them and what they have seen and gone through. So does that mean Vogue has a right to come into their world?

I’ll admit the more I think about the photo shoot idea, the more weird it gets. It wouldn’t be any better a concept if they’d put non models in the fashion and did the shoot. It would be more compelling but draw just as much cynisism. Which leads me to again, like most of the media question why they had to do it.

Because when I think of why someone would do this and then pass it off as an homage of sorts, and see the name Vogue, all it makes me think of is people, who live in a bubble of a world that isn’t anywhere nearly as involved in the extra’s who played background to the models and their poses in the fashion shoot.

A world of existence that isn’t remotely real or connected to the true emotion and heart of what a disaster like Sandy means and feels to those affected by it. A world that is representive of excess and luxury, everything Hurricane Sandy, isn’t.

Kind of like, the shoe thing. You know, they were high heeled shoes but the rest of us walk in trainers or boots, so how could you walk in anyone who lived through Sandy and was affected by it’s shoes? Not that it’s what they’re trying to do. No Vogue isn’t actually trying to do photo journalism. So again my thoughts fall to why? Their argument would likely be, they’re trying to help out the only way they know how, or the best way they can.

The oddity of the photo shoot has garnered it plenty of attention which should in fact, work in favor of fund raising. The idea that it is Vogue who have done this, makes me at least, think of cashing in on a situation with a notion to be current.

It doesn’t make me think it’s sincere in it’s efforts, so much as just trying to make their February issue, important and therefore, high in circulation. It’s not the first time Vogue have tried to somehow be current affairs credible and it’s unlikely to be the last.

But the idea of something as insensitive as fashion, that isn’t marketed at the general masses, that is in fact, about as elitist as can be from it’s Haute Cotoure designer labels and price tags, being linked to the everyday person, is where the divide and the disgust in this idea lies.

The fashion industry and fashion itself, is quite often a big slap in particular to women and the image of them and that’s not new. So Vogue shouldn’t be so damn shocked that people are feeling that slap from the concept of their photo shoot. Got to wonder what Carrie Bradshaw would make of it.

I for one, agree that it’s in bad taste, wether you’re Vogue or not. An online dictionary definition of Vouge states “the prevailing fashion or style at a particular time: “the vogue is realism” – freedictionary.com/vogue.

That definition makes Vouge seem like their photo shoot idea, is every kind of wrong and lacks a fair amount of cultural sensitivity as well as realisim in the reality of this situation.

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2 Comments »

  1. Would it have been in better taste if the photo shoot included people who had lost everything, and they were being dressed up to look nice, and then helped out to buy clothes to replace those they had lost? Say, here’s a whole wardrobe for you and your family from Wal Mart, and now we’ll tizzy you up in something flashy for the photo shoot?

    Comment by mattfarmer — January 19, 2013 @ 1:00 am

    • No I think I would still find it odd and somewhat offensive. I can see what the intention is with the photo shoot and I can see they mean well. After all they are raising and have raised something like $1.7 million in funds for the Sandy relief efforts. But i find the noition the idea, the shoot etc, disgusting as It still comes across to me as Vogue asking us to celebrate someone else’s pain and grief.

      Comment by Breukelen Girl — January 19, 2013 @ 1:59 am


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