Vogue Italia wrongly glorifies abuse with photo spread

By Isabelle Cavazos, COLUMNIST
On April 7, 2014


Shock tactics are often used by desperate companies to maximize attention, such as American Apparel’s current controversial advertisement depicting an under-the-skirt shot of a bent-over woman.

Now, Vogue Italia is under fire for its recent photo spread, “Horror Story,” which depicts models as bloody, abused women fleeing their male counterparts. Critics argue the spread romanticizes domestic violence.

Though the magazine’s Features Director Carlo Ducci and Editor in Chief Franca Sozzani claim the theme is meant to raise awareness of domestic violence and connect to women afflicted by it, the seriousness of the issue is incompatible with the artificial gore of an “American Horror Story” rip-off.

One of the photos portrays a crying woman crouched underneath a staircase with the lower half of a man wearing a blood-stained coat coming down the stairs. Another depicts a presumably dead woman lying on the floor with blood surrounding her hair and a knife on the ground next to her; in the distant background there is a man sitting in a chair.

As many have pointed out, designer clothes by Miu Miu, Valentino and Marc Jacobs do not disguise the subject matter Vogue Italia is playing with.

Despite Sozzani telling The Independent, a UK-based newspaper, that the concept was meant to be “cinematic” and explore how domestic violence is, as she says, “bigger than the (horror) you can see in the movies,” translating this concept into a glamorous photo shoot trivializes the gravity of this problem.

Just last year the lower chamber of the Italian parliament approved a Council of Europe treaty aiming to prevent and act against domestic violence toward women. That same year, former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta even began addressing the issue of women being murdered by their partners
as “femicide.”

On a worldwide scale, the World Health Organization notes that 30 percent of women who have been in a relationship have faced physical or sexual violence from their partner as of 2013.

What makes Vogue Italia’s photos even more appalling is how Ducci acknowledges in a corresponding editorial that the audience might believe the magazine is using the issue of domestic violence to sell more copies, but still insists it is a viable means to relate to women affected by it.

However, if the risk of being “misunderstood” is foreseen, then the magazine should not have tried to go about raising awareness through a medium which will always have the ulterior motive of making an interesting concept to advertise flashy garments.

Despite the editorial’s supposed intentions, it ended up following the footsteps of the infamous 2007 Dolce and Gabbana advertisement accused of glorifying rape by portraying a male model bent on top of a female model in a setting with four other male onlookers.

If a leading fashion magazine such as Vogue Italia chooses to touch on an issue of such enormity, then it should exercise additional caution to avoid perpetuating the problem it is attempting to spread awareness of.

Isabelle Cavazos is a sophomore majoring in English.

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