Monday, 1 September 2008

Vogue India: Crassness Or Business?

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

The New York Times features the article "Vogue’s Fashion Photos Spark Debate in India" which reports that Vogue India’s August issue presented a 16-page "vision of supple handbags, bejeweled clutches and status-symbol umbrellas, modeled not by runway stars or the wealthiest fraction of Indian society who can actually afford these accessories, but by average Indian people."

One of the photographs (above) shows a man -probably an impoverished farmer- modeling a Burberry umbrella in the magazine that costs about $200. According to the World Bank, some 456 million Indians live on less than $1.25 a day.

Many in the Indian press are up in arms about this, calling it "downright distasteful and tacky" and "vulgar".

I wholeheartedly agree, but prosperity in India is growing in leaps and bounds and luxury makers are falling over each other to market their goods in a effort to capture a share of the pie. I grudgingly force myself to swallow Vogue's spread's breathtaking tackiness by assuming that it created jobs for many people, who may not have had one otherwise, and hope Vogue paid the "real people" for their time as models....and given them prints of the photographs or the magazine itself, to bring cheer to their lives.

According to the article, an Indian columnist said “The magazine does not even bother to identify the subjects” of the photos. All I can say is that the editors of Vogue India must be mindless twits, and that hopefully someone will remind them that India has just suffered (again) floods which devastated the lives of millions of "real people".

Via Imaging Insider (link)

UPDATE (September 2) from an article in the UK's Independent:
"A spokeswoman for Indian Vogue editor Priya Tanna tonight said the magazine had been taken aback by reaction to the photographs but defended the decision to publish them, and said the poor 'models' had been paid 'a significant amount."

I'm glad the atrocious judgment and arrogant behavior by those involved at Vogue India is being denounced by the Indian press, the Western media and by bloggers. I would like to find out who the photographer of the editorial spread is, and what his/her position is. I'd also like to know how much were the "models' paid by Vogue India, assuming that it's not a lie.