Last week a few people piled on Vogue magazine for their fashion editorial entitled Storm Troupers.
Katherine Goldstein maligned, “Is this what happens when Anna Wintour feels emotion?”.
Jason Kottke decried, “I guess they were going for inappropriate & provocative but hit inappropriate & idiotic instead?” He continued that if American Vogue wants to something provocative then it should follow the tasteful lead of Italian Vogue and photographer Steven Meisel.
I wonder if he realizes that the same editorial/photographer team also used the BP oil disaster in Louisiana as the inspiration for a fashion spread. The piece is oft criticized as a low point in the history of fashion photography.
The Storm Troupers is bold, compelling and wonderfully photographed by Annie Leibovitz. The series gives us images of two cultures that typically aren’t found in the same room together yet share the same city as their home. If Vogue and Leibovitz had used the damage from hurricane Sandy as their backdrop, I could understand the vitriolic criticism. But they didn’t. They wrapped up the story of the heroes of Sandy in couture and had some photographic fun.
Fashion reacts quickly to current events. It is one of the artistic hallmarks of the industry. Storm Troupers is a continuation of the tradition. Vogue and Leibovitz took a facet of the story of Sandy and tried something new and unexpected. The magazine spread is obviously done in the spirit of bringing some glamour to the fireman, doctors, coast guard and Con Edison folks who deserve it. Any other interpretation, particularly a malicious one, is misguided. It is after all just fashion, it will be gone by the end of the season.