“Whoever cultivates the golden mean avoids both the poverty of a hovel and the envy of a palace.” - Horace

You may have already read the article on The New York Times' website regarding an editorial in the August issue of Vogue India where poverty and consumerism were posed side-by-side in unholy union. I have to admit that Vogue India is not one of my regular reads...nor am I even sure if my local Barnes and Noble stocks it...so this was the first that I'd seen of the images.

I have to say that, personally, this kind of editorial does nothing for me...it's a degrading way to go about the business of selling luxury goods...contrasting them against people who could, conceivably, be working in sweatshops producing the knock-off versions of the very designer goods they're holding. I understand "aspirational marketing"...everything from coffee to dental floss is now sold to us as something that we need to buy to keep up with the Jones'...but in a country where, to quote the article, "nearly half of (the) population...live on less than $1.25 a day" surely the majority of the aspirations floating around are more along the lines of food and shelter than handbags. Especially galling was the quote from the editor of the magazine where she said that the pictures were showing that, "fashion is no longer a rich man’s privilege"...fashion (or should I say style) may not be the province of the wealthy but $100 Fendi baby bibs certainly are...Photobucket


Post a Comment 3 comments:

  • susie_bubble said...
    12:40 PM
    I agree with you...haven't a clue what they were going for but it is incredibly odd/surreal....
  • enc said...
    3:44 PM
    It all sounds very strange.
  • editor said...
    9:29 AM
    it is very very interesting.
    a move like this, i can't believe it's sheer naivete (a polite word for stupidity) even if that is how it feels to western eyes. if i try to interpret it, what i see is that poverty and wealth in india must exist very very close together, just as they are displayed in these images, overlapping (here they are so close that they literally, physically overlap). one side effect of such proximity could be a numbness to it. every person with abundant wealth will not choose to adopt an impoverished family or area, to spend their money on sanitation or health care or education for those who cannot afford it for themselves. that is not how it works in the US either, however vogue US tends to ignore such issues entirely, or else spotlight some socialite of the hour who has decided that she would like to throw a luncheon or dedicate the insignificant proceeds from some ephemeral line of eponymous handbags/nail varnish/dog beds. mainstream fashion (ie vogue) sticks with feel-good fashion representation. while this would entirely sour me on luxury (temporarily), even shame me, in india, exposed so constantly and to such an extreme version of poverty, it would be unrealistic i guess to be crippled by it. is it more callous to show impoverished people modeling luxury than the reality that people of great wealth coexist with those who have nothing? that happens everywhere. often we can conveniently get lost in a $4 magazine (one that usually does not force us to confront weightier issues), rather than send that $4 to a family/organization that could use it. i avoid marie claire like the plague because they are happy to feature something like the 200 of the best summer sandals, or whatever, right along side an article about people dying from...well...a plague, or some such. you get the idea. they have their fashion and then they cover things that do not belong in my chosen vehicle for escapism. i don't respect their inclusion of these stories. they could offer subscribers to their magazine a special discount to a subscription to the new york times, perhaps, if they wanted to raise awareness, but i don't like my appetite for design/beauty (frankly, both are rarely found on the pages of MC, but i digress), and my nausea/guilt/conscious to be stimulated all at the same time. that is the effect this vogue india spread has on me, but i also have the (guilt guilt guilt) luxury of living at a physical distance from extreme poverty, and that's just not the reality in india, so reflecting that in the pages of their edition of vogue is not entirely ... insane, i guess.
    what do you think?

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