After American Vogue and Italian Vogue made headlines this year for their controversial issues, the "King Kong" and the "All-Black," Vogue India has entered the fray with some controversy of their own.
A spread that appeared in the August 2008 issue, featuring "real" Indian people carrying $10,000 Birkin bags and $200 Burberry umbrellas is being "blasted" by the press, calling it distasteful and an "example of vulgarity" because nearly half of India's population lives on less than $1.25 a day.
Is the shoot just a publicity stunt? Maybe they want some of the press the other Vogue editions got too. But Vogue India editor-in-chief Priya Tanna's says:
Lighten up . . . Fashion is no longer a rich man’s privilege. Anyone can carry it off and make it look beautiful. You have to remember with fashion, you can’t take it that seriously. We weren’t trying to make a political statement or save the world.
If by "fashion" Tanna means clothes and accessories worth thousands of dollars, than I think it is only a rich man's "privilege." If the point of the editorial was that "anyone" can carry $10,000 Hermès bags then I think it is in poor taste to have a family who probably lives in a shanty town, carry these items, when they can pick anyone to model these clothes.
A better idea would have been to photograph them as they were, without all the fancy accessories. They look beautiful in their own clothes.
A man modeled a Burberry umbrella in Vogue that costs about $200.