Vogue Stirs It Up!

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The furore that the August cover of Vogue caused probably is nothing compared to the stir a 16-page spread in the issue is causing all over the world! The spread features people from rural areas sporting high-end items by ‘Fendi’ and ‘Burberry’ as if it were part of their daily lives. But, as all of us know that some of these luxury items cost way more than what some of these ordinary people will make in their whole lives.

What do you think of this controversy? Are you the more “It’s Vogue, get over it” or are you “sick to the core at their nonchalance”? Or, something else?

You can read the original article at NY Times here.




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P.S. Thanks to ‘greengirl’ and ‘Mia K’ for the news tip!

Image Source: NY Times

Update: Added more pics…

61 COMMENTS

  1. it’s down right stupid and insensitive..

    but alteast those poor people got paid for these shoots.. I SURELY HOPE SO..

    Vogue india should just shut down




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  2. I just cannot get over the arrogance of it all!

    Not EVERYTHING in life is about fashion!! I wish those highly paid morons at vogue would understand the difference between “not-taking-it-too-seriously” and being JERKS!!

    Seriously, they should consider selling one of their old Gucci bags on E Bay and try to provide a roof for the farmer before giving him a bloody Gucci bag for his potatoes!




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  3. Well, its nice to know someone thought of bringing some novelty into the life of those who lack it- at least give them an experience of a lifetime. Can’t the poor have some fun?
    I liked Vogue’s idea- but the should have paid these people- I hope they did…
    Its definitely not insensitive! I’d but this magazine over one with the usual celebrity….




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  4. I think porr people should be allowed to have fun.. what I don’t like is that Vogue does not name these people like it would with models and celebrtities..




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  5. Appalling, truly disgusting.
    What vogue has done is a mockery of the under previleged , its like slapping them while they think they are being celebrated , the sad part is that these people are never going to know about the meaning of the photo shoot.
    Did they pay these guys or not is a non issue.




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  6. @ANON. exactly.. they are no bodies.. why vogue bother to type their names…
    it will sell vogues copies.. hoping these people were paid atleat a month’s worth of food..if nothing




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  7. Its plain and simple … Vogue India sucks .. the people here don’t know what they’re doing. Its a shame.
    Every issue of theirs has progressively gotten worse !




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  8. I would first like to know their intent at doing this.does anyone know?

    Sometimes an intent doesn’t have to be wrong, but the results are, and i judge people on their intent more so than the results.




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  9. I love the pictures!! I mean just look at that toothless grin of the grandma holding the kid (reminds me of mine, except that she had no teeth at all!) and that lady with the bag, who comes across as a bit bashful bt still hving fun! How is this arrogant?? If anything, its actually bringing the products down from their celestial podium. I don’t think the purpose of the shoot was to highlight the contrast or the irony. It’s just fun! And yes fun is as important as anything else. These ppl don’t need to be reminded ALL the time how miserable their lives are perceived to be.
    And isn’t misery relative? The year I spent in a distnt rural village of MP as part of an organization, straight after my bachelors, I got to interact with the poorest of the poor. But if you all think that they are in tears all the time, you are wrong! Yes they hv to wrk much more and much harder than may be what you and I have had to do or will ever do. But may be you’d be surprised by the sheer normalcy of their routine.
    Anywayz the purpose of this rant was jst to say that its just a few hours from their lives and they probably had a bit of fun and it’s ok, WE don’t need to make any decisions for them, these are intelligent capable human beings who have been taking care of themselves and don’t need saviours. And even when we are going out and working for them, it’s not always w/o reason is it? Even if the reason is just that it makes you feel good!




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    • @ karishma totally agree with u, when will the so-called “sensitive people” realize that these people just happen to be poor not retarded. They have the intelligence to judge human motives, probably more than these “bleeding hearts” and they’re having fun and just being happy and the fact that this spread gave them that opportunity more than outweighs any culpability on Vogue’s part!




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  10. this could be both appaling and wonderfl at the same time
    Appaling in the insensitvity they show towards these poor rural communities-if this can be insensitivity
    Wonderful if they chose to use these real people instead of models-how many times will they got to do something like that in their lives
    …but it should be a social thing, not fashion




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  11. Okie I see there’s another Karishma here now whose views differ from mine considerably. So just a note for the readers that we are indeed two different people and not some obsessive commentator (?) with a split personality!!




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  12. Perversely I feel HOPE within me. When I glanced through these pages, I think there, within the fashion world’s oft lack lustre body, is a soul, that has perhaps been awakened. But, I fervently pray the villagers got something lucrative out of this. But then again, I might be an ignorant fool. But then, just maybe, the next step would be to have a woman with hips and thighs and a little belly on the covers. Vogue, if you’re listening, this is your chance to propel your first show of mild intellect to pproject women with real bodies (i’ll take that either in rural or urban settings) as your heroes and influence the millions around the world to aim for sizes that are more age appropriate.




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  13. I have no words … I cannot believe how we perceive the poor. How we think .. oh these poor people, lets give them some hope in life, they should also have their share of fun!! How patronizing is that….and how do we know that any human being’s idea of a fun life is carrying a Gucci bag??? C’mon lets not be so shallow.
    Since when did life revolve around buying a Gucci bag or wearing a Prada dress, these people might much more if life than we living in cities, believing that we have everything money can buy, can ever imagine having.
    I can’t believe I am actually commenting on this article, stupid me! I should just stick to looking at pretty dresses and pretty actresses carrying the most expensive bags and wearing the most expensive shoes!




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  14. I can’t believe anyone would think this is just fun. How callous and patronizing. The last thing the desperately poor is doing is thinking about any designer label even if they know what a designer label is to begin with. This is just exploitation plain and simple – let’s use these folks as background to sell magazines. I despise Vogue and everything it stands for in this materialistic world.




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  15. It is a mindless thing to do… unless Vogue can explain their intention behind the shoot. Their intention i hope was to bring some sought of happiness to poor people but that can also be done by sneaking out in disguise at night and handing out Fendi to poor ppl! Doing all that and not publicizing it or making a photo shoot out of it!




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  16. Just asking the people above who commented the pictures are fun….it is fun because they’re rural and poor carrying a sophisticated berkin bag right? if they were not rural and poor wheres the comedy in that? Its just plain atrocious these pics, thats what they are….unless, they were actually taken to knock some reality into our heads




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  17. the only way vogue india could have redeemed themselves here is by giving the label’s worth to the people photographed here…
    its APALLING, unrealistic, and just shameful. people don’t have food to eat and here they are photographing with luxury items these people cant even dream about. disgusting.




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  18. I actually love the colors and the interplay ofspace and light in the photographs. Vogue India could’ve hit this one outta the park if they only had a soul – if they named these ‘models’, instead of just calling them ‘woman’/’man’ etc. and if they’vepaid them well for the shoot. And yes, if they had a better PR department that could say something less infuratingly stupid than ‘this is fashion, get over it’ .




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  19. i can’t believe it. if the idea was to show luxury goods as a part of every day life — the vogue ed is quoted in the NYT article as saying “fashion is no longer a rich man’s privilege, anyone can carry it off and make it look beautiful” — at least hang the stuff on someone for whom a gucci or a fendi is an aspirational label. say a dudette in a coffee bar or a 30-something middle-level manager in the veggie market. get real people, get creative. THINK!!




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  20. i think its fun. it shows how unessential high value items are when it comes down to brasstacks living. its not the poor they are making fun of. it looks like its the poor making fun of the prices of this stuff, and having a good laugh.

    i find it interetsing. no harm done at all.




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  21. I completely agreee with the “FlowerPower” above. That exact same sentence caught my attention too!
    Explain to me how a poor person can even afford something like this, let alone carry it off!!!
    Vogue definitely need a new Editor , preferably someone who can talk more sense that just fashion.




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  22. my thought is that the photoshoot in itself is interesting.. just taking these items and putting it next to ordinary people makes the item itself so less ordinary.. for eg, i missed the bib on the kid and tht that his shoes had something to do with the so called luxury item photographed..
    you know, somewhere i have a hope- just like that carefree smile of that lady with the bag.. that india will grow to be this – where people will carry luxurious items just like ordinary items.. but for now this photoshoot just makes me sad.. sad that the plight is brought out more because of the shoot and the luxury item, sad that it takes a bag to call someone poor.. sad that our government isnt doing enough.. sad that the people photographed dont even know the value and meaning of the items that they are holding..

    so therefore instead of getting wowed by this unique concept – i just feel plain sad and of course I hate Vogue.. go take a dig at someone elses misery.. our people are simple..




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  23. i actually like this idea.. i definitely prefer these photos versus blank models wearing designer items with their plastic smiles! the emotions in these pictures are very natural and real and thats what i like about them.
    i dont think they should be taken in the wrong spirit because that is definitely not what vogue intended to do, im sure! honestly! why would u think they would want to make a mockery out of the poor? STOP getting so emotional and start admiring the creativity and the guts behind this photoshoot! way to go vogue!!




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  24. I was taken aback when i opened the August issue … It feels like the Vogue team went around India, found a bunch of hapless souls and gave them a few minutes of entertainment for the day by clicking their pictures. I don’t think that the models are even aware of what they are sporting, so where is the logic of ‘carry it off’. The pictures are apalling and an obvious mockery, however I did think Priya Tanna would come up with a better explanation that ‘ Lighten Up!’ … I am so off Vogue after hearing that.




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  25. I don’t understand the whole debate behind it? If supermodels can pose, so can regular peope. What one does not realise is, that with this feature; a common man has been featured in what is considered to be a crude fashion bible. The notion of beauty is being altered from the regular fair skinny girls.

    One has to look at the bright side, and really stop criticising each and every thing. We need to give creative freedom the space that it deserves.

    P.S. having said that I do believe that the credentials would carry the peoples’ names




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  26. I think its all right. I don’t see anything disrespectful or insensitive about it. Sure, there’s irreverence here, but it isn’t against the “poor, rural natives” but rather at the various unnecessary trappings that today’s urban fashionistas So Must Have, Babez. To me, the “models” look like they’re having a good time with it, while also laughing at the superficiality of it all, underlining how unnecessary all of it really is. Sort of puts it all into perspective – fashion’s fun and all that, but it IS fantasy, it IS divorced from what’s real, and it is kinda silly. But Ooo, look at this pretty bag!

    Course, the models shouldn’t have been nameless faces. Vogue should’ve credited them. And for heaven’s sake, Tanna, come up with something better/slightly more intellectual than “Lighten up”. You’re an editor, for crying out loud. Sure, its a fashion mag, but come ON, woman.

    So yeah. Good concept, poorly defended. They sure got people talking though, huh. Which is what they want, anyway.




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  27. I found these pictures offensive and highly insensitive Priya Tanna dismisses criticism by telling people to “lighten up” Well maybe she should grow a conscience and stop romanticising poverty. There is nothing kitschy or fashionable about people for whom life is constant struggle to survive and finding where next meal will come from. Whats also disgusting is that no where are these peoples’ names are mentioned. I also suspect that they were paid pittance compared to these overpriced brands they are posing next to as props and not really as people.




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  28. i agree with “flower power”. i think they should have gone with ordinary middle classes instead. by the way, similar things have been done before by other magazines. i’ve seen photoshoots were models wearing expensive clothes have been photographed in african villages or even rajasthani villages or busy urban streets with poor people in the background. at least this time the people in the shoot were paid.




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  29. I’m truly disgusted by this! If Vogue wants people to know that “fashion is no longer a rich man’s privilege, anyone can carry it off and make it look beautiful,” then they are truly dillutional! Forget the people they used for this so-called “photoshoot”, how many people with jobs and a family can afford Gucci or Burberry in India? Majority of the country can’t afford 2 meals a day and they’re talking about being able to buy Gucci and Burberry? What a buncha morons at Vogue India. Not to mention the comment by Tanna to “Lighten Up”…give me a break!




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  30. I’m really torn by this cover……like “Chevalier”, I actually like the photos themselves, but then again, the context cannot be ignored. Of course this is not the first time Vogue haas done this i.e., use poor people as a background. This has always enraged me and I’ve always wondered if they’re trying to increase the richness of their products by enhancing the contrast using the poor.

    In this sense, as they’ve given the product to the “props” themselves instead of using a model as a go-between, one has to wonder if the current photo shoot is a step down or a step up?

    My biggest beef is with Ms. Tanna’s comment to “Lighten Up”! If she is incapable of realizing the impact a visual can make then I would like to tell her, “Grow Up!”.




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  31. i agree with karishma!! the pics are fabulous if their intention was to devalue these luxury fashion goods and showcase how its the man that actually maketh the clothes and not the other way around..
    maybe that sounds a little insensitive, but its a fact

    i mean,c’mon… these brands that we are such slaves to look so common in the photos..! products worth upwards of $1000 look like stuff u could buy in those little shacks on the wayside in villages…

    having said that, i do not think that THAT was vogue’s vision or creative statement for these photographs…considering priya tanna’s statement.. i think vogue was aiming for an almost comical spread..which is just horrid!!

    i like the photographs but only by way of my interpretation!=)




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  32. And I just read Flower Power’s comment about the NYT qote from the Vogue article (wow, talk about referential overdose). Clearly, the context was NOT what I thought it was. So yeah, scrap that. It’s gimmicky.




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  33. I loved that they did not use high end model. There is something about using real people …makes the whole thing more genuine. But what I did not like is the fact that they did not care to mention the names of these people. Instead they chose to simply generalize them under one category of poor/ middle class Indians. That I could not stand.
    If this was in USA ‘s vogue featuring middle class Americans …I am sure they would have mentioned the names of these people …The Jones family or the Browns …
    I think it is very careless on Ms.Tanna’s part to not give this issue a more thought…




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  34. this is really insensitive and a mockery of the Indian poor more and more of whom are finding it hard to even make 2 square meals a day. as a concept, the campaign might have worked if these apparently real rural people were replaced with actual models wearing village garb. that would not have been a bad idea. well-known faces, wearing/carrying high-end brands in an Indian village backdrop!




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  35. Speaking from my personal experiences, these people are so happy, warm and loving. They love life, luxury or no luxury. Being with them makes me realise how money and greed drive the ‘well off’ amongst us crazy. There is a fine distinction between loving fashion & being a snob.




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  36. We are all hypocrites arent we. We dont like the reality check.These photos are insensitive esp cuz they didnt mention the models’ names. But it sure gave me a reality check.




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  37. if these pictures were meant to be satire, it may have been understandable but reading the ny times article and the vogue india editor’s comments made her seem so ridiculously harsh.




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  38. I think it is a disgusting thing to do. A mockery and disillusionment campaign. A calculated shift towards moving towards the materialistic – aren’t we all victims! A mirage of beauty that’s fake




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  39. I love the fact that no one ever really raised even one word when this issue came out two months ago and suddenly an international websit writes about it and everybody seems to be all pro about poor people and the unfairness of it all. Lets face it how many people actualy are doing anything about the poor people except criticize about what other are doing.Its very easy to type 200 words and then forget about it the next day. They dont need your sympathy and I’m sure the shoot wasnt done to make fun of them. An honestly this is not the first time a magazine has done a shoot like this so why blame Vogue India only.




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  40. Something is wrong here, very wrong… I don’t feel comfortable watching these pictures. The nice thing would have been giving them the designer items :)




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  41. wait hold on, so these pictures were not of items that they actually owned

    vogue actually made them model with them?

    interesting idea but i’m not too sure what my views are on this yet :S




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  42. What a dumb thing to do? Cheap…rather expensive kicks to it’s readers? I guess the people have no idea about the accessories they are posing for.Insensitive people at Vogue!




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