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Natural Disasters: Not a Fashion Moment

What does Vogue have in common with a D-List Reality Personality?

vogue-sandy-spread

Many New Jersey and New York residents* (more on that later) were at best temporarily displaced by Hurricane Sandy, and at worst still struggling months later after their homes or businesses were completely destroyed. Entire waterside and low lying neighborhoods remain torn apart, months after record high water levels have receded. So months later, a bit of awareness could be helpful in reminding people, like the congressmen who voted against giving federal aid money to hard hit states, that just because the storm’s fallen from the front page, the need hasn’t gone away.

Vogue‘s Fashion for Sandy Relief auction in partnership with the CFDA raised $1.7 million for the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, so their hearts (and wallets) are mostly in the right place, but the entire concept is not. Sticking a model in luxury clothes with people whose photoshoot hours could have been better utilized restoring utilities (ahem, ConEd) or otherwise helping people cope with the fallout from the storm comes off as not well thought through at best and completely tone deaf at worst.

Nana Gouvea's post Sandy shoot

Nana Gouvea’s post Sandy shoot

Brazilian reality personality Nana Gouvea was the butt of many a joke after her impromptu photo shoot with downed trees in the city. While the photography and models in this case are undoubtedly superior, the sheer ridiculousness of using a natural disaster that left people homeless, hungry and cold as the theme for a photoshoot under the guise of awareness is just as silly for an A-list magazine as it is for a D-list media chaser.

Vogue editor Anna Wintour has first hand experience in being inconvenienced by the storm, as she was forced to temporarily relocate to a luxury hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side {NY Post} while her Greenwich Village home was without power. Perhaps bumping into fellow refugees like Carine Roitfeld, Marc Jacobs and Emma Stone didn’t offer an uncomfortable enough or long enough relocation to consider those who don’t have homes to return to; whose favorite photos – not just of models, but of mom, dad, grandparents and family – are gone; those who probably hoped they could recover enough dry, heavy clothes to make it through the cold days that followed the storm, or bundle themselves in enough donated blankets to live without heat at the beginning of winter. While beautiful, it’s doubtful that any of the sleeveless gowns and delicate dresses featured would be up to that task. Maybe the water damaged clothes strewn about in particularly hard hit areas weren’t fashionable enough for Vogue, though surely a story with survivors discussing particularly meaningful pieces that were damaged or gone would have been relevant to a fashion magazine and relevant to the reality of the situation.

Which brings us to one final point: New Jersey.

*Loss is loss, damage is damage and suffering is suffering. That said, often overlooked in fundraisers, relief efforts and even shoots to glamorize those things is New Jersey. While Sandy seems to have succeeded in making more people aware that New York City isn’t just Manhattan (we’re betting the photograph of Chanel Iman and Karlie Kloss with Far Rockaway firefighters is the first time Vogue‘s shot in Queens in… ever), not a single photo op was dedicated to New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie estimates his state suffered $36.8 billion in damage, while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo puts his state’s cleanup bill at $32.8 billion {Huffington Post}. Given it’s less fashionable reputation (not entirely deserved), it might not be as much of a draw as New York City, but the cleanup bill is at least equal to, if not greater than that faced by the city and surrounding New York areas.

Perhaps New Jersey’s electric workers and recovery crews had something else to do when invited to participate in the shoot.

 






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