Inappropriate fashion spread on Vogue Italia?

Water & Oil on Kristen McMenamy

The August issue of Vogue Italia features a 24 pages cover spread depicting a model covered in oil to recall the effects of the devastating environmental disaster of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Shot by Steven Meisel, the supermodel Kristen McMenamy appear to dead on rocks and struggling to breathe, at times in disturbing poses conjuring up dying animals or sick workers.

Now international newspapers and magazines are debating whether or not the Vogue Italia’s fashion spread is inappropriate.

Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani makes no apologies for the oil layout, saying to Associated Press that “the message is to be careful about nature, to take more care about nature.’’

Here what written on Vogue Italia:

“We’ve all watched in shock as the black tide spread ceaselessly throughout the Gulf of Mexico – twitter comments, posting pictures, and we’ve all followed – from computer screens around the world – each failed attempt to stop the spill and clean the damage. In the face of this dramatic, catastrophic stalling, the images of Steven Meisel make up a precious reportage that delivers an artistic impact. Unforgettable images, created purposely to unnerve the viewer, capture the reality of the situation. And through the sun’s rays blackened by carbon, petrol, anthracite and graphite, he depicts our collective dismay. Model Kristen McMenamy becomes the protagonist of a news story, in the style Vogue Italia is known for”.
Kristen McMenamy in the “survivor” version, where she interprets in images the environmental drama that’s afflicting the Gulf of Mexico. She keeps her skin golden thanks to Self Tan Face Bronzing Gel Tint (to wear alone or with foundation): it takes care of the skin, while giving it a hint of color. Carbon, anthracite, and all of the earthy shades “dress” her eyes: Quick Eyes Cream Shadow, cocoa shimmer, a long-lasting cream eye shadow, worn with brown High Impact Mascara, and her lips feature a nude look. All by Clinique. Tulle dress with beaded embroidery, Ralph Lauren Collection. Rubber necklace, My Sister’s Art. Hair by Orlando Pita for Orlo Salon. Make-up Pat McGrath. Fashion editor Karl Templer. Set design by Mary Howard“.–oil

Here the reactions:

“Emotions are still raw for those in the area who have lost jobs, uprooted families, and witnessed the damage to coastal and marine wildlife. And it’s not merely a local concern. Activists across Europe have held protests against British Petroleum, while donations and volunteers have come in from around the world. The images of oil-soaked birds and beach-side tar balls have resonated with many”.

Fashion in the past few decades has started to confuse itself with serious art (its no mistake Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani is an Art Basel Miami Beach regular), and certain designers, editors, stylists and photographer feel the need to be provocative by taking on real world issues. Yet, most times when they do they have little to say beyond glamorizing the aesthetic of tragedy. Perhaps if Meisel made a deeper point about the oil spill this wouldn’t be quite so disgusting. Instead it merely seems that he found the images of oil covered beaches and animals inspiring and something appropriate to use to promote luxury clothes. And don’t get us wrong, these images do have their beauty upon first glance. Meisel is a master, yet when the inspiration sinks in it negates even the virtues of the most beautiful of these images”.

In contrast, it’s almost disgusting how easy it is for fashion types to glamorize tragedy, and yet they almost never find inspiration in the body of real women and resort to using young, skinny models. Wasn’t that the original point of women’s fashion magazines? To make women beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, not devastation like oil spills?”

“Miranda Lash, curator of modern and contemporary art at the New Orleans Museum of Art, said artists should be free to take on any topic.“When I look at it, I feel pain. It evokes pain and a feeling of loss and sadness because this is going to hurt my region for a very long time,” Ms. Lash said. Beth Batton, curator of the permanent collection at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, Miss., said in an e-mail that the spread humanizes the condition of the Gulf coast animals and environment. “Looking at Steven Meisel’s photographs, you know something is terribly wrong because, as sensual as the images are, the human mind understands the toxicity of the oil that has coated model Kristen McMenamy’s skin, hair, and feathery gloves,” she said. On Twitter, type in keywords Vogue Italia and you’ll get various opinions”.

What do you think about it?

To see the complete Fashion spread

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9 responses to “Inappropriate fashion spread on Vogue Italia?”

  1. LUCIA MARASA' says :

    NON condivido assolutamente questa campagna pubblicitaria….trovo di pessimo giusto sfruttare la tragedia che è accaduta e che tuttora sta sconvolgento la vita di migliaia di persone, per una campagna secondo me di pessimo gusto!

  2. elenasc says :

    Lucia, grazie per il tuo commento.
    Ad onor del vero bisogna però spacificare che non si tratta di una campagna publicitaria ma di un servizio fotografico.

  3. Christine says :

    I think it’s a haunting piece. Quite frankly I think raising awareness for this in any way possible is a good thing. Vogue is a Fashion Magazine, so they are raising awareness in a way that is in line with what they market – fashion. I don’t think it’s inappropriate because I don’t feel they are romanticizing it at all. I feel they are showing a dying woman on the beach which is exactly what is happening to animals, fish, even people as a result of this horrific oil spill!!!

  4. allan says :

    Art evokes emotion, these photos do just that. No matter how you may feel about the situation the photos will create discussion. For such a tragedy that is a good Thing. When I look at the photos I do not see fashion. Maybe that’s because I am not knowledgeable to high fashion. I am reminded of the many photos I have seen of the dead animals and oil covered animals suffering on the beach front. For me these images are serving their purpose evoking emotion and discussion. Now that the oil spill is capped and in my opinion some bad science is coming out to say the water is all clear. It makes me happy to see images to remind people of how bad things are. The meaning behind the photos cannot be denied. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is a tragedy which will be felt by all for a very long time. Especially for those who live in the area who’s live will not be the same for a long time.

  5. elenasc says :

    As Anatole France said:
    “If I could pick something to read 100 years after my death, do you know what it would be? In this imaginary furute library I wouldn’t pick a poem, a novel or a history book… I would pick a fashion magazine…. because it would reflect life and it would give me more information than all the philosophers, writers, orators and scientists”.
    I trully believe that fashion magazines reflect life. If we don’t like those pictures, we should spend less time calling for ban of a fashion spread, and more time working to make the world a better place.
    Just my opinion.

  6. anwa says :

    I think that these would have retained their beauty if they weren’t in essence an advertisement. If they’d just been an artistic expression of the oil spill, they would be emotive and thought-provoking. Instead, since they’re a plug for ridiculously expensive clothes, they’re kind of insulting.

  7. Lucia Nappi says :

    Il problema della fuoriuscita di petrolio è una notizia alla quale l’opinione pubblica si sta assuefacendo e la gravità della situazione è passata in secondo piano. Il governo americano cerca di tenere sotto controllo l’informazione sull’argomento e i giornali americani e quelli internazionali trattano la notizia in maniera tale da non creare panico. In realtà la fuoriuscite di petrolio stanno creando danni assai più di quello che appare sulla stampa.
    Quindi secondo me scelta coraggiosa e di impatto quella di vogue italia. La mia prima reazione alle fotografie è stata di disgusto e non sono riuscita a guardare gli abiti. Solo successivamente mi sono sforzata di guardare gli abiti, ed ho pensato che la bellezza di quegli vestiti richiamasse la bellezza della natura, le piume di un uccello, le squame dei pesci. Inoltre ritengo a differenza di anwa, che per fortuna esistono expensive clothes, che io certamente non mi compro perché too expensive, ma che qualcuno fortunatamente compra e quindi è un’industria che funziona che da lavoro a molte persone e che oltretutto è anche molto bella a metà tra l’arte e il business!! Sarebbero ancora tantissime le cose che avrei da dire sull’argomento ma per il momento mi fermo qui. This is just my opinion. I will try to translate in english my opinion

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