The tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has found its way into fashion. In a highly controversial photo shoot, Italian Vogue is using the disaster as the backdrop to a dark feature that appears in the August issue.
Personally, I find the images disturbing. Especially the reference to affected wildlife with model Kristen McMenamy wearing feathers and posing like a stricken animal on an oily beach. But disturbing is the point. From Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, Franca Sozzani:
“In the face of this dramatic, catastrophic stalling, the images of Steven Meisel make up a precious reportage that delivers an artistic impact. Unforgettable images, created purposely to unnerve the viewer, capture the reality of the situation.”
The shoot has generated an enormous amount of commentary, drawing attention to the spill and its impact. And drawing attention to Vogue of course.
Reaction is quite divided. Many people think the feature is inappropriate and exploitative, while others see it as an environmental statement that is bringing attention to the disaster. Sozzani and McMenamy have both defended the shoot by saying that it sends a message to take better care of nature.
What do you think, education or exploitation?