You know the most beautiful thing about getting hit in the face by somebody you love? Nothing! It actually hurts and sometimes your face bleeds and then you have to make excuses so cliche, they sound like they were ripped straight from a Lifetime movie. Anyway, Vogue Italia doesn’t feel the same way. Vogue Italia would have you know that domestic violence is actually really gorgeous and glamorous.
In its April 2014 issue, Vogue Italia included an editorial titled “Horror Story,” models are shown running away from men–presumably their partners–covered in blood and looking terrified. The implication is obvious: they are being abused, and isn’t that pretty? The story, shot by Steven Meisel, features looks from Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu, and so many other lovely designers. There is one photo where a woman is seemingly attacking a man, but other than that, nearly all these lovely little pictures show men trying to hurt, or even murder, women. For example, the photo above a terrified woman running from a man as he stalks her down the stairs, but she’s wearing Valentino and he’s got on Gap and Prada so s’all good.
In the article, Vogue Italia claims it’s all in the name of women!
Saying NO to violence against women enables us to be, in our own way, useful. And to convey, as our civic duty, a message against barbarism. It doesn’t matter if we run the risk of causing a general uproar with the media or arousing criticism; or if we are accused of exploiting pressing issues just to push our way in newsstands. What is important for us is that at least one of the dozens of women suffering violence every day can feel our nearness.
Really? Because you didn’t convey a message against barbarism so much as “look how glamorous people can be when they’re being tormented and potentially killed.” This preemptive strike against criticism would be absolutely hilarious if it wasn’t so sad; it is painfully transparent that they are indeed doing what they know everyone will accuse them of. They are exploiting domestic violence and trivializing it in the name of getting people to buy and click. That’s right: Vogue Italia is XOJane, but with an undeservedly positive rep.
It is not simply the blood and the weapons that bother me; it is also the sheer terror shown on so many of the well-dressed models’ faces. The well-acted dread, fear and panic the women express is how it actually does feel to have somebody want to hurt you so badly, you are unsure how things will turn out (to put it in the most delicate possible way). To put it not-quite-as-lightly, domestic violence is a devastating epidemic that reportedly affects over 1.3 million women each year–most of whom never see justice. The stigma against women (and men, of course, though it’s worth noting an estimated 85% of victims are female) who report domestic violence is still going strong today, and editorials in high fashion magazines that make it look real pretty to punch your wife in the face until she’s unconscious doesn’t exactly help.
Naturally, Vogue Italia EIC Franca Sazzoni naturally defended the shoot in an interview with The Independent.
“The idea originally was cinematic. When you talk, for example, with young people and you see which kind of movie [they watch], [it's] all about horror, about things that we… I don’t know, not the kind of movie that I usually look at. I don’t know why they have this kind of attitude to see all these kind of films and so we started to think about that and I said to Steven, ‘OK, let’s do [one] about [a] horror show.’”
Aw, you guys know that beloved horror classic called “I’m Terrified To Say The Wrong Thing Because My Partner Will Twist My Wrist So Hard, I Won’t Be Able To Use It Tomorrow,” right? It’s one of my faves and it’s totally livestreaming on Netflix!
Eventually, Vogue Italia might issue a non-apology (at best) about how their intentions were misconstrued and we just don’t understand their “art.” They’ll say this whole thing was a solid idea, presumably under the guise of “raising awareness” or something. You know, whatever bullshit people pull when everyone calls them out for glamorizing violence against women.
Photos: Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia