The New York Times ran a great piece a few days ago on a controversial ad campaign launched by Vogue India.
Vogue India’s August issue present[s] a 16-page vision of supple handbags, bejeweled clutches and status-symbol umbrellas, modeled not by runway stars or the wealthiest fraction of Indian society who can actually afford these accessories, but by average Indian people.The spread raises some questions regarding the difference between creativity and social responsibility. These models, who on average make less than $1.25 a day, are showcasing items upwards of $1,000. How can one reconcile the vast disparity? Unfortunately, Vogue India editor, Priya Tanna, does not. She states that the critics should "lighten up," adding that "with fashion, you can’t take it that seriously." Tanna's gaucherie rebuttal is a slap in the face to not only India's serious poverty problem, but to the mission of fashion as a whole.
Had this campaign been driven by a more profound cause than mere shock and awe, I would have thought twice before rejecting it as a sophomoric attempt at creativity. Tanna confesses that the works bear no significant meaning, but even the most amateur enthusiast understands that great fashion is created with a great purpose -- without it, what is left is, well, meaningless.
In Vogue India magazine, a child from a poor family modeling a Fendi bib, which costs about $100.
A man modeling a Burberry umbrella in Vogue that costs about $200.