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News & Insight

Vogue Italia’s Appalling and Insensitive Domestic Violence Fashion Photo Shoot

By Hanssie on April 14th 2014

Raising awareness for a cause as horrific as domestic violence is a laudable cause. This horrific crime is a reality for far too many in the world and people should be taking a stand to stop the violence. How we raise awareness, though, is another matter. In Vogue Italia’s latest controversial issue, domestic violence is depicted in a 10 page glossy spread with bleeding, cowering women, covered in blood and Prada. It’s revolting and insensitive and in poor, poor taste.

Because nothing says, couture like a dead woman at the bottom of the stairs.

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According to some reports, there are over a million victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year, and many of them ending in homicide. Vogue magazine has garnered international outrage in their May 2014 issue which features the cover image and a 10 page photo spread making a “political statement” to highlight domestic violence. Titled, “Cinematic,” images show models decked out in the latest high fashion ensembles, hiding from men welding knives and blood everywhere. It’s a scene that is being compared to “The Shining.”

[REWIND: HELP BROOKE SHADEN BUILD A PHOTOGRAPHY SCHOOL FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING SURVIVORS]

 

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Conde Nest Italia’s editor-in-chief, Franca Sozzani, is no stranger to controversy, having pushed the envelope in her editorials. In 2008, she published an edition featuring only black models. In 2011, she put plus sized models on her cover and in another issue, sent models to pose at the site of the worst environmental disaster in US history, the BP Oil Spill.

The May issue, they released this accompanying video, “Horror Story,” with a breathy spokesperson narrating:

Photographed by Steven Meisel, the magazine stands behind their editorial, stating:

It doesn’t matter if we run the risk of causing a general uproar with the media or arousing criticism; or if we are accused of exploiting pressing issues just to push our way in newsstands. What is important for us is that at least one of the dozens of women suffering violence every day can feel our nearness. And that those who follow us may feel stimulated to take action, condemn, and support women in trouble. And that they all see that all of us at “Vogue Italia” are on their side: by utterly and radically condemning all types of violence. This awareness urges us to make some noise. In our own way.

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Though the intention may be good, the manner of which they decided to showcase this, sadly, is not. Bringing to light the horrors of domestic abuse is somehow lost in translation when, in the corner, next to a frightened model the text reads, Dress: by Marc Jacobs.

What do you think about Vogue’s latest issue? 

[Via @Refinery29/Photos from Vogue Italia]

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
[email protected]

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Adam

    This sounds like a typical American opinion of a culture expressing themselves about an issue in a non-politically correct manner. Let it be.

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  2. William Bert

    Where are the black eyes from a punch to the women’s face? Where are the bruises from being hit? Where is the hair messed up from someone grabbing and pulling on it until the batter women screams from pain? Where is the women in the grocery store wearing sun glass because she has a black eye and want to hide she is victim of domestic violence?

    That is what I have in witness living in New York City for many, many, years now. Those victims are not wearing Prada.

    Please Vogue do not tell me you are trying to do this to bring awareness of this problem, you want attention, sell magazine and next moth you will have move on to something else.

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  3. Tamara Lackey

    I think it’s more about grabbing eyeballs than gaining awareness. And, in response to the other comments, I do agree that there is too much blood-drenched imagery in our culture, to the point that we are far too desensitized to it – or, at least, many are. This makes me cringe but not in the way intended.

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  4. James

    It’s appalling? Is every ad-loaded, blood drenched movie held to this standard?

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  5. Ajin

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Politically correctness for the sake of it, is a complete waste of time. If these photographs bring awareness to the domestic violence, I don’t see why it is a problem. We see so many movies more bloodier than this and, heck, even the TV news has more graphic violence depicted that these mere 10 pages of “glossy pictures”. We all jump into condemning an act that depicts the result of domestic violence for being insensitive, but I do not see the same zeal in action to prevent such violence in the first place. I may be wrong, but I do not see any issue here, and I am sorry if I offended anybody with my thought!

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    • Hanssie

      I think my issue was more of the fact that they may say they are trying to raise awareness, but they seemingly are doing so in a sensationalized way to sell copies. It’s not an issue about political correctness, but more of the fact that (in my take on the photos), they take a very real issue and trivialize it in a manner that leaves a poor taste in my mouth. Do people need to know the bloody girl is wearing a Prada dress? Can awareness be raised in a manner where it’s not over commercialized. How about putting real victims on the cover of their magazine or having 10 pages of instances where real women that are victims tell their story. That’s raising awareness and that’s why I wrote this article the way I did.

      And yes, I completely agree with you that we, as a society, need to place more zeal in positive action to prevent the violence.

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  6. Stan Rogers

    The idea that this is supposed to be a condemnation rather than a rather outré eyeball-grab is, at best, damage control PR. The magazine exists to sell itself so that it can sell advertisement, and for no other reason. That task has never been easy, and it’s significantly less easy today than it has been in the past. “Ordinary” won’t draw enough eyes, and “ordinary extraordinary” has largely been done, so the things that make it through the editorial pitch meeting are the “extraordinary extraordinary”; in the spirit of Oscar Wilde’s “[t]here is only thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”, they’re thinking so much about standing out that they’ve forgotten to consider what things mean. The shame of it all is that it will probably work; a lot of people who wouldn’t normally buy Vogue will buy it to see what the fuss was all about. (Sometimes I despair for humanity…)

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