Vogue India Photos Insensitive or Beautiful (or Both)?
One year-old Vogue India has found itself the subject of controversy, according to The New York Times, due to an editorial photo spread in the August issue featuring the country's poor accessorised in luxury brand items such as Hermes Birkins and Fendi baby bibs.
The bold juxtaposition of rags and riches is being condemned by Indian citizens who object to the use of India's poor as the magazine's models. "Vulgar, tacky and distasteful" is how Kanika Gahlaut, a columnist for the Indian daily newspaper Mail Today describes the photos. "There are farmer suicides here, for God’s sake," she says.
But Vogue India editor Priya Tanna isn't bothered by the criticism and says people need to "lighten up", that "fashion is no longer a rich man’s privilege. Anyone can carry it off and make it look beautiful." Right, but she's showing $10,000+ Birkins here. Too bad very, very, few of us will ever get the chance to prove her right!
I haven't seen this 16 page spread. But based on these two photos and the NY Times' description of others, there is an obvious, (nevermind the historical) disconnect between those who live in this luxury world (which no doubt includes those who produce the magazine) and those whose aspirations are to get their family through another year. Imagine flipping through American Vogue and finding a single mom and her five kids prancing around their trailer home in dirty t-shirts with Chanel necklaces and Prada sunglasses? Take away the vibrant, traditional clothing of these Indian 'models' and their comparatively exotic surroundings and it's the same thing. Isn't it? What do you think?
Thanks to Katherine