Vogue's India Poverty Shoot Pits Couture vs. Culture

Mag touts barrier-breaking 'power of fashion;' 'downright distasteful,' others say
By Elizabeth Wolff,  Newser User
Posted Sep 2, 2008 12:07 PM CDT
A page from Vogue India's August fashion spread.   (New York Times)
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(Newser) Vogue India is taking heat for a haute couture fashion spread that uses poverty-ridden locals for models, the New York Times reports. A toothless, barefoot man holding a $200 Burberry umbrella and a rumpled baby in a $100 Fendi bib are just two examples that have irked some critics in a country where 456 million live on less than $1.25 a day.

“Lighten up,” the mag’s editor warns. “You have to remember with fashion, you can’t take it that seriously. We weren’t trying to make a political statement or save the world.” But in a country where extreme poverty and high privilege often rub elbows, the spread is a “downright distasteful … example of vulgarity,” one newspaper columnist says.