This month Vice Magazine released its 2013 Fiction Issue, which includes a fashion editorial named ‘Last Words’. The magazine claims it was paying tribute to legendary female writers like Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Sanmao, and others, who committed suicide.
The series depicts models dressed in high fashion clothes reenacting each suicide. Sylvia Plath kneels before an oven, Virginia Woolf wades into water, all in clothes “to die for”.
The backlash has been so severe that the magazine has removed the photographs from their website and replaced it with a statement in which they state the Fiction Issue was designed to feature female writers, photographers, illustrators, painters, and other contributors. The magazine’s editors then “apologize to anyone who was hurt or offended” by their “art-editorial point-of-view.”
In the print version of the issue, each photo is paired with the name of the author, dates of birth and death, alongside cause of death. Of course, it also includes the fashion credits for any clothing or accessories. But where are these brilliant writer’s ‘last words’?
Conspicuously absent, I can no longer think about their male counterparts on my book shelf – Ernest Hemingway and David Foster Wallace – expressly missing from these scenes. You see, this was supposed to be about women, and yet these women have been stripped of their voice completely by the magazine editors. They are reduced and de-humanized.
Positioning suicide and mental health problems as a fashion statement is both tasteless and irresponsible.
“These weren’t fictional characters; these were real women, who lived and struggled and died, and to treat their lowest moments as fodder for a silly fashion spread is shameful and sad.” ~ Jenna Sauers
But don’t think it ends there. One of the models that participated in the shoot spoke with online source Jezebel, stating:
“I was uncomfortable . . . The model is the person who has the least amount of power.”
‘Last Words’ Mocks Author’s Suicides in Tasteless Editorial
The following images are from the photo spread. Because of its violent and offensive context and nature, it is not our intention to champion these images, but visually frame the frustration and outrage many, including myself, feel.
What Were They Thinking?
First things first – I am a woman, I am a writer, and I am an artist. With that said, I was absolutely floored when I came across a fashion editorial that took some of the women that inspired me to write in the first place and reduced them to a set of suicide statistics and high fashion price tags.
There is no way to understand the thought process that drove the photographer and editors for sure, but one thing is clear: this was beyond a poor judgment call. Some of these women have living relatives that are still dealing with their loss. Using such tragic loss in a fashion editorial, with details on where to purchase the same stockings used to ‘hang’ the model, is morbid and disturbing.
What are your thoughts? Did they go too far? Please let us know.
To see all images from the spread, click here.
Until Next Time . . .