fashion & oil.

this morning i went to my bloglovin' and saw a new post by one of my blog favorites, V of grit and glamour. in this post she referenced another post from beautifully invisible discussing the Water & Oil fashion editorial by Vogue Italia. aside from becoming a new follower of beautifully invisible on bloglovin, i also came to a realization... far more people should be talking about this.

i first saw vogue italia's oil spill editorial on where i was not privy to any of the text associated with it.  as a result, i was undecided.  on the one hand, i love when fashion goes controversial. i love when it reflects world issues and steps outside itself.  the majority of the photos in the spread are POWERFUL and disturbing, like these:

others are far more glamorized:

i understand that some very awful, ugly and disturbing things can sometimes create beautiful and interesting inspiration, but the above photos don't really reflect the devastation associated with an oil spill. had i seen them independent of the concept, i don't think i would have known that's what they were meant to reflect.

huffington post talks about the spread and asks the question whether this is appropriate commentary or just tasteless. the first comment by Anne of Caversville (who has also blogged intelligently about this editorial) was interesting and brings up a good point:
"Both Italian and French Vogue have long histories of of challenging consumerism, style and the environment in their editorial pages. The Europeans have a vastly superior track record on consumption and environmental values than Americans. They walk their talk much better than than we do. I'm astonished that we choose to only evaluate the Italian Vogue editorial through our American lens of politically-correct media editorial. In fact, we could learn from them about a more integrated approach to style, consumption and nature. The overwhelming 95% negative and pious American response to the Italian Vogue images -- given our own abysmal track record on consumption and environment -- is truly depressing. We just can't imagine fashion that provokes dialogue. It's considered very bad press rather than intellectually invigorating. "

i agree wholeheartedly with her comment and her post expands on her views. i highly recommend reading it. plus, the editorial spread has succeeded in the sense that MANY more people are now giving attention to the spill who before were not. yours truly included.

however, this is not amateur karaoke night at your local bar, this is fashion magazine bible, VOGUE. and i don't think i'm the only one that expects Vogue to handle issues of such seriousness without making some grave mistakes.  for example, the text paired with the editorial on is sheer product promotion. the caption underneath such pointedly disturbing photos should not be about self tanner.  it shouldn't need to be said but hey, what the hell:
AN OIL SPILL SHOULD NEVER BE CONSIDERED AN OPPORTUNITY TO SELL PRODUCTS OF ANY KIND. if said products all came with a significant charitable promotion where the majority of proceeds were used to help clean up the spill, then that would be a different story. but no mention is made of anything like that.  no reference to how anyone can help if they so choose, or any facts associated to the spill, nothing. and yes, i do consider that a mistake.  it's in poor taste, and you would think that a fashion magazine, always concerned with matters of fashion, taste and etiquette would understand the difference between classy and classless.  

still though, anne of caversville's point resounds as the most significant. not all, but a definite majority of american backlash due to the editorial seems focused on the very fact that a fashion magazine would do something like this, and that really IS depressing. why doesn't fashion have the right to comment on world issues as well? sure, vogue italia could have done a better job, but if you just look at the photographs for a moment and ignore the product placement of the text, the majority of the images are powerful and disturbing. vogue, a very mainstream publication, is putting these images in your face. we're not all googling oil spill images, but many of us come across fashion magazine editorials all the time. particularly those of us with a fashion-minded approach to life. would we be talking about the oil spill right now if this editorial hadn't been created? unlikely. by causing this controversy on such a popular forum, people are now paying closer attention. and for the general collective state of mind, it's giving environmental issues cover story importance, even within fashion. because it is far more important than just doing another glossy cover of another glossy celebrity. and that's a step forward for environmental issues within fashion. i just wish vogue had made absolutely certain it was a bigger step.  


  1. Great write-up Kristy. I agree. It does raise awareness (and thanks for the shout, doll!). But I don't think the "American backlash" should be discounted. While America is lagging in environmental consciousness to some degree, we've not felt offended by this spread for no reason. It is irresponsible, as you pointed out, to put together such a provocative spread and point the finger, yet do nothing more than that. Vogue Italia should have put its money where its mouth is—don't just put the imagery out there in an endeavor to portray the gravity of this tragedy, DO SOMETHING TO HELP! If Vogue Italia is going to where American media doesn't dare, then make it a movement. Make it count.

    ♥ V

  2. One thing I really love about your blog is about how you take issues like this into the next level. Each bloggers opinion matters a lot. You're words are powerful yet you still maintain these into set of opinions that generates great interest...which I really admire the most. Some people would think that fashion bloggers, only post about photos of themselves and does not care about anything at all.

    With this post, you have proved something.
    You are not only the best fashion blogger but someone who talks like this is really a great model and inspiration.

    Love this one dear, great point!

    take care gorgeous

  3. Fabulous post. We Americans are an interesting breed. This is just my opinion, but Americans (myself included) are the most opportunistic, consumerist country with a track record for grossly exploiting our own misfortune, as well as the misfortune of other countries in the pursuit of the almighty dollar. How dare we get on our high horse and throw stones. Now aside from that, I agree with Grit and Glamour...I commend French & Italian Vogue for using their influence to raise awareness around the issue; however, some accompanying philanthropic efforts would have taken this editorial from offensive to noble in the eyes of Americans, especially those in the Gulf Coast. Sure they could have left out the product placement text, but it is a fashion magazine for goodness sake. Lastly, I completely agree with everything you said in the last paragraph. Fashion absolutely has the right to comment on world issues. I'd even go as far to say it has a responsibility to comment because of it's large audience and undeniable influence.

    Just my random thoughts on the matter...

    Eboni Ife'
    The Fashionista Next Door

  4. THANK YOU SO MUCH Kristy and V for your posts and words to this theme that still makes us all speachless! xoxo Jutta

  5. wow those pictures do make u stop and think what the poor animals must be going through. hopefully it'll all get cleaned up♥

  6. very thoughtful post, it is such a controversial idea for a photo shoot.. goodness knows why they decided to portray it so beautifully, though it does highlight the issue. thousands of animals are dying, suffering, people are losing their livelihoods.


  7. Thanks for linking to my post! (Side note: love your blog, humbled you are now following mine) :)

    I tend to agree with what V said. I truly believe that if Vogue Italia had included that call to action, and had omitted all product placement and commercialism from this photoshoot, the backlash that the piece is getting here could have been much smaller. The photos of this disaster speak for themselves. I think when you still try to make it a fashionshoot, which they did, it lessons the impact of the piece. But, as you said, it has people talking, which is a very important thing!

  8. I don't know that I agree. I don't think designers or fashion magazines have a responsibility to treat current events in a tasteful way, or be tasteful at all, for that matter. The only time I hear about anything fashion-related is when a spread or billboard appears to glorify anorexia, pedophilia, violence or tragedy and it makes the local news.

    The only responsibility for an industry like high fashion -- which doesn't make anything that anyone needs -- is to make money, get publicity, and make more money, and not break any serious law in the process. Well, lookit, you got incensed enough to write about it, and here I am, writing about it even though I couldn't care less about fashion, or whether a photoshoot showed due sensitivity to the crawfish and seagulls affected by the oil spill. I bet sales of Vogue spiked this month. Mission accomplished.

  9. Excellent post regarding consumerism, and whether matters such as environmental damage can used to lend a hand to advertising, especially on part of a global catastrophe. Though I can see both sides of the argument, what I do admire about the shoot, though, is that it lends some credibility/responsibility to the fashion world, for them to use their power to help, or at the very least, attract attention to significant issues.
    It means that either the fashion world is attempting to garner for itself a new image as socially/environmentally-aware, and shedding its image as superficial and image-conscious (ironically?) - or it is actually using its power consciously. Or both. Like you said, "no one HAS to act responsibly in any aspect of life or industry, but doing so is always preferable." Well-spoken

  10. thank you for the comments porcelain complexion and marta.

    marta ia agree with you that i prefer the existence of the photoshoot the way it is as opposed to the lack of the photoshoot's existence. it does help the fashion industry go in a more environmentally conscious direction during a time when that is necessary. just the fact that so many of us are talking both about the fashion and the environment in the same sentences is wonderful for that cause. and thank you for reading my comment as well and singling out that line. it was my favorite. =)

  11. Great post. I do like these pictures and I think it's good that they address worldly issues through their editorial. It could probably be done in a "better" way? But this is probably also a PR stunt for Vogue, we're all talking about it now!

  12. Wow, this is an intense photo shoot. It makes me sad. I hope maybe these photos will open the eyes of people in the world.

    Thanks for visiting SHE!

  13. Great post! I really liked the photography and styling stc but I agree that it should have been handled more tastefully

  14. Amazing post Kristi. The fact that this editorial has evoked such a reaction and response is a direct reflection of the powerful influence that the fashion industry has. This worldwide influence makes it more important than ever to make sure that these issues are dealt with appropriately and responsibly.

    This editorial could have been a home run but it falls just short by never actually telling its reader how they can help out with this environmental disaster. There's simply a lack of sensitivity. I still think that it's a bold step in the right direction and I sincerely hope that the intention was to bring awareness to this environmental concern and not to cash in on a catastrophe.
    Either way any publicity is good publicity and this definitely got the attention of the fashion crowd and directed it towards this conversation and debate.

    Perhaps by pointing out their misstep the same mistake won't happen again.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your perspective darling! xx

  15. And I spelled your name with an "i" again! I work with a Kristi so it's just habit. Sorry hun! xx

  16. love your comment brooke! it succinctly sums up the whole situation. i, too, am very thrilled with the conversation and debate this editorial has evoked.

  17. love your blog! now following you! hope u follow me back!

  18. Fab post Kristy!

    What I would say is that I am not sure about the intentions behind this editorial from Vogue. Is this another way of riding the wave generated by this catastrophy? or a genuine attempt at highlighting the seriousness of the issue?

    I think the people who are behind the backlash may be questioning the ulterior motivation - not the fact that it is in a fashion magazine. The thing is, it is not clear to me when I look at these images that it has an educative aim.

    Or maybe I am mistaken, but I can see why it would annoy people : at the end of the day there is no mention of how to help or a charity contact number/email to help those affected.
    I love it when fashion is used for a good cause but in this case I am a bit disturbed by the use of this event.

    Great debate though!!xx

  19. i really enjoyed reading this. as art, i think it's fantastic that the team took something other than mindless art concepts, but I think it is a touchy subject to objectify in an editorial.
    great blog!
    loving the posts
    stop by some time xx

  20. Fabulous write-up on a fascinating and controversial topic. I think you tackled this with style and grace, the way a fashion blogger should!

    And aside from the whole controversy (I'm of the feeling that it was far too soon to exploit the oil spill in such a way), I don't even like the editorial! It's so intent on showcasing the oil spill and the destruction that it doesn't actually showcase the fashion. Go figure.

  21. Those are powerful images, and should be applauded for using fashion to create a dialogue about oil consumption; however, I agree that product placement is in poor taste. Devastation should not be used as a marketing tool.

  22. i really love everyone's comments. the variety of opinion expressed in these comments is significant. it shows that this truly comes down to a matter of taste and perspective. the reason i blogged about both sides is because i genuinely feel both sides have compelling points. the rest is left up to us and whether it's something we find appealing or not. but really, isn't that exactly what fashion comes down to in general? so many different designers and styles exist so that we may all choose what speaks to us best. variety makes fashion interesting. and the exploration of different subject matters within editorials and magazines makes for a more diverse fashion narrative. i really dig this discussion, and i thank you all so much for taking the time to express your opinions so eloquently.