Vogue Italia Targets Domestic Violence in its April 2014 Issue
Vogue Italia is no stranger to using controversial subjects in its glossy pages. Editor-in-Chief Franca Sozzani has used her publication to touch on issues including racism, addiction, plastic surgery and environmental disasters, all of which garner myriad opinions — both positive and negative.
This month the magazine depicts models, including 17-year-old Natalie Westling (pictured above), in situations of domestic violence. “The idea originally was cinematic,” Sozzani told The Independent of the shoot by photographer Steven Meisel.
“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.’”
The images are bound to illicit a strong reactions, but to Sozzani the editorial is not intended to glorify domestic violence, but rather start a conversation concerning its worldwide prevalence and what can be done to stop it.
“Seeing the pictures when I was coming out of the shoot, it was everywhere on the TV in Italy, but even all around the world, how many women are every year attacked, abused and killed? You know, in a small country like Italy only last year [the figure] was 1,700 women and almost 130 that were killed, so it’s huge: it’s more than two women a week, you know, it’s like a huge proportion, just killed. And so I said… why don’t we give that message again, especially that the horror of life is bigger than the one that you can see in the movies. This is really a horror show, what we are looking at and what we see every day in every newspaper around the world is how fragile the woman still is today, and how she can be attacked, can be abused, can be killed.
“It was not against men, it’s about the fact that women have to be defended,” she continued. “And a lot of people are already doing something, because I know that even some other people in fashion are really committed to defending women and raising awareness, to empower women.”
Sozzani believes that using an accessible outlet like fashion to broach controversial subjects is the best way to communicate and bring about change.
“For me, they were my tool. So, that’s why probably some of the images, they really look very strong, but I have no other choice but to talk worldwide; to talk to everybody. And I think that fashion is not only about dresses, but about culture, it’s about where you live, it’s about social movement, it’s about economical movement, it’s about racism, it’s about everything.
“We always consider fashion to be something, let’s say, superficial,” she said. “For me, it’s a pity, because fashion can have so many kinds of expressions. It’s not only about clothes, it’s not only about one dress. If it was only about that, it would be boring.”
So on a superficial level, has the fashion world become a crusader against abuse?
The protest concerning photographer Terry Richardson gained traction amongst media outlets and individuals alike in recent months, even spurning a Change.org petition begging publications to stop using the alleged sex offender. However, if Harper Bazaar's May 2014 cover shot by Richardson is any indication… they’re not listening.
Maybe Sozzani needs to speak a little louder.
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