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Vogue Shoot Controversy — Humbling Luxuries in New Delhi

The models in this photo are not waking up in silk sheets in their expensive hotel room and rushing to the set to get their hair and makeup done for this photo shoot. The models in this photo earn less than $1.25 a day. Real people being shot in their actual hometown beside crumbling walls, a rat infested floor and ashes. But the man in this photo spread is not modeling his own umbrella, he is holding a $200 Burberry umbrella. The controversy behind these photos was not easily let go by the people of India.
A columnist for the Daily paper in India, Kunika Gahlaut, denounced the shoot as “vulgar” and “distasteful” and reminding readers that Indian farmers kill themselves everyday because of debt. Vogue India editor had a different approach in mind when publishing her 16-page vision. She wasn’t trying to be distastefully ironic or a tease to the less fortunate. She was merely trying to deliver a new message; “fashion is no longer a rich man’s privilege. Anyone can carry it off and make it look beautiful.”
With a fast-growing wealthy class and emerging middle class, India is coming up as one of the worlds most attractive places to sell new luxury products. The approach to marketing high end luxury products to poverty ridden citizens may not be right for India, but it might help get the message out. Brand awareness is not yet present enough in India however it is a growing industry in a difficult area. There is still a market for luxury goods in India but marketers haven’t figured out how to reach them yet.
New money is making a place in India, making luxuries easier to attain. What is Vogue is trying to do is reach a new market base, not dangle diamond fish in front of starving people. The message may not have been easily accepted however there is always controversy with new ways.
In my opinion I think this is a sensitive approach to advertising. However, everyday people complain that they don’t see any “real people” in magazine ads and editorial spreads. You give people what they want and they will always ask for more. These spreads are beautiful and delicate, a lovely approach to fashion and an imaginative way to bring fashion to the world. But these everyday people aren’t being paid or recognized in the ads the way top models are, and that is another problem altogether. –

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. alexi Says:

    Whoa buddy. This is highly interesting…..I’ve got a lot of reactions to this, and a couple of questions. I’ll start with the questions. What is a “luxury” or a “luxury product”? Who decides how we, or Indians, or anyone for that matter gets to define these words? Is luxury a Burrberry umbrella? Is a luxury a locally created product that creates profit soundly and locally?

    Okay and this sentence:
    “The approach to marketing high end luxury products to poverty ridden citizens may not be right for India, but it might help get the message out.”

    WTF man! LOL! So, accepting that marketing high end luxury products may not be right…for India, where could it be an apt scheme? Hey…Wasn’t there something about Sudan…I think there are some poor people there that might need Burberry bullet proof vests or Tommy Hilfiger edition guns or something! Maybe we could target sweatshop workers…first we’ll have them make the clothes…and then we’ll take pictures of them wearing the clothes for our adverts AND THEN we will turn around and sell the clothes to them at crazy hiked up prices!! I’m a genius! Wait…what…you’re saying American Apparel already does this? Oh, darn. Double darn. Anyway, I’d love to know how it “might get the message out there”. Well, actually I’d like to know what message it is that you are hoping it will get out there. Also with the next sentence:
    “The message may not have been easily accepted however there is always controversy with new ways.”
    And what “new ways” are we talking about here? Selling expensive things and an expensive lifestyle to people who may not be able to afford it? There really isn’t anything new there. This actually seems kind of paternalistic. As if Vogue is really bringing “fashion to the world”. The world is a damn fashionable place. It really goes without saying, but from the mountains of Bolivia to the shores of sub-saharan Africa women and men dress themselves beautifully to the nines! (and more often then not, the “fashion” you are talking about is quoting borrowing and stealing fashion ideas from more ancient places and cultures)
    Vogue may be bringing a decidedly western fashion sense to the world and all the irritating Victorian schmegma, repression, and superiority that still clings to it’s psyche. Which yes, is what at times gives western fashion some very wonderful wonderful things like all the sorts of fashion derived from fetish(such as the very cute shoes you wear in your profile photo), fetish– coming out of repressed sexuality–repressed sexuality most often linked with those pesky Victorian values. OMG…I’m totally more fired up about this than I meant to be–
    But sorry peeps, it must be told that fashion does not belong to the rich, to the western or northern world nor to the fashion house execs…never did.

  2. alexi Says:

    Whew, that being ranted….And pardon the errors in the rant, I do thank you, Nillie Dee as it is a very very interesting happening with many sides, and I appreciate your take on it, though I may not agree with you.

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