The BP oil spill is truly a tragedy that will long continue to effect the environment and it’s inhabitants. The August edition of Vogue Italia features a controversial, oil spill inspired editorial that has sparked debate about the the intersection of fashion and politics.
The images are not conventionally beautiful, in fact they are purposefully disturbing – the models, lifeless, tattered, and dirty communicate disgust and trauma. A fitting response to the actual oil spill but are the creators exploiting the situation or creating awareness? Is it appropriate for Vogue Magazine to be running this editorial?
Surely, Anna Wintour would not run such a spread, however European fashion tends to take more risks and this is no exception. Despite a common perception that fashion and political awareness are not related, I do believe that there can be a meaningful intersection. In the media, one phenomenon is quickly replaced by another while the damage still lingers – out of site, out of mind. Running an editorial such as this reminds us that this issue is still problematic and not just for the environment and animals but for humans as well.
However, there is something about this that makes me cringe a bit. I think of the people who have immediately been effected by the spill and this photo shoot doesn’t do any justice to them or the environmental aftermath. There is no context to put this in, no education, no resources. It does feel like the creators are using this tragedy to sell (and ruin!) luxury clothing without doing much to further the discourse around this disaster. Raising awareness is key but so is action, if Vogue Italia really wanted to show sensitivity they should have donated part of their sales toward some environmental rehabilitation to really make a statement.