Vogue at centre of storm over Hurricane Sandy fashion shoot

Is this what happens when Anna Wintour feels emotion? asks Slate over 'awful' photoshoot

LAST UPDATED AT 12:09 ON Fri 18 Jan 2013

VOGUE'S decision to publish a glossy Hurricane Sandy fashion spread featuring supermodels posing with emergency workers caught up in the disaster, has drawn an angry reaction from some commentators.

Slate said Storm Troupers, which was shot by celebrity snapper Annie Leibowitz and features "the best of the New York collections", was "awful".

"Is this what happens when [Vogue editor] Anna Wintour feels emotion?" the magazine asks, pouring scorn on the pictures which include an image of three models in flowing white gowns posing on the side of a speeding Coast Guard boat.

Slate also decries the magazine's captions which juxtapose details of the emergency workers's heroism with details of the frocks such as the "Oscar de la Renta double-face duchesse-satin dress".

New York blogger David Kottke writes: "I guess they [Vogue] were going for inappropriate and provocative but hit inappropriate and idiotic instead."

Not everyone thinks Vogue has blundered. Terri Pous, writing in Time, admits the fashion magazine "didn't exactly need to give its angle on the story". But she says Storm Troupers "does elevate the first responders to another realm of adulation" and casts them in "a unique light". Because the models are "mostly a visual afterthought", the spread "does give the heroes the undivided attention they deserve".

The Guardian's Rosie Swash points out that it's not the first time Vogue has devised a "current affairs" fashion shoot, with the Iraq War and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill both inspiring previous efforts. More importantly, says Swash, the fashion industry has been "particularly drawn" to the Sandy disaster with designers including Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan contributing substantial amounts to relief funds.

There is "more meaning" to Leibowitz's picture than first meets the eye, says Swash, because the magazine has helped to raise $1.7m for the relief effort. The shoot isn't the result of a "drive-by" interest in the disaster and "if it [Vogue] wants to photograph the Air NYPD and put those men in its magazine, it has earned the right". · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.