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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A "Vogue India" Editorial Offends Non-Staffers

Rural India doesn't usually conjure designer handbags, "it" accessories, high-end apparel or modeling opportunities...not unless Vogue India is involved, anyway.

For its August issue the fashion mag plucked some of the most destitute people, from the streets of India, and decided to use them as models. In a subsequent 16-page editorial, Vogue had them rockin' everything from a 100-dollar Fendi baby bib, to Alexander Mcqueen-designed digs; and even pictured one woman toting a rare, yet highly coveted, Hermès Birkin bag, which sells for upwards of $10,000.

Mind you roughly 456 million people in India--nearly half of its population-- live on less than $1.25 a day, according to NYT. And oh yeah, while Vogue meticulously itemized and priced the products it featured, it neglected to mention the poor Indian models' names, merely referring to them as a "man" or a "woman" instead.

Obviously, this left some people feeling pissed; one being Kanika Gahlaut, a columnist for the daily newspaper Mail Today.

"There’s nothing 'fun or funny' about putting a poor person in a mud hut in clothing designed by Alexander McQueen," she said in a telephone interview, conducted by NYT. The spread was “not just tacky but downright distasteful.”

"There are farmer suicides here, for God’s sake” she added, referring to thousands of Indian farmers who have killed themselves in the last decade because of debt.

Yeah, aside from a prostrate apology, I wouldn't know how to respond to that.

Good thing Vogue India editor Priya Tanna had an empathetic, well thought-out, defense. Her message to critics: “Lighten up."

“Fashion is no longer a rich man’s privilege," she said. "Anyone can carry it off and make it look beautiful.” (Yes poor Indians, if you save your entire--$1.25 daily-- income, you too can own a Birkin bag... in 21.9 years; maybe in a decade if you deposit your funds into a high-yielding savings account.)

“You have to remember with fashion, you can’t take it that seriously,” Tanna added. “We weren’t trying to make a political statement or save the world.”

Um, ew.

Gandhi is home-spinning in his grave urn (s).

Info. and images via NYT.

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