I started thinking about the Kendall Jenner Vogue India issue and Vogue in general after reading about the immense backlash Vogue India was facing after putting Kendall Jenner on its 10th anniversary issue cover. From Vogue India’s Instagram picture and the comments on it, readers are not pleased. People seem to be annoyed that an Indian woman was not used for such an iconic cover and yet more seem to be particularly annoyed that Kendall Jenner was. I have to say I agree.
I saw pictures of the cover and did wonder why Kendall Jenner was on it. I thought maybe she was coming to India to shoot for some Indian brand – for some reason I thought maybe she was shooting for some Indian bridal wear. Or wondered if she was making an appearance in an Indian movie. I’ll be honest, for a minute I even thought she was appointed as some kind of ambassador or something and was in India for some project. (Ok, I realise its mean to say so but that does sound laughable). Anyway, there was no news I could find – there was no news connecting Jenner with India. And then I checked Vogue’s Instagram account which had a picture of the cover – and thousands of angry comments from angry fans and readers.
Now people seem to be annoyed about two different things – one, its not an Indian woman on the Vogue cover. (Although I myself am tired of seeing one Bollywood actress after another on Vogue covers. Where are the models? Where are the fashion people? Where are the designers?) This is the 10th anniversary issue for Vogue India so it is a little difficult to understand why a white woman was chosen to be on the cover. I also thought it was quite a lacklustre cover and none of the elements really fit. There is a white woman wearing a net and feathery black dress against a beautiful backdrop of a palace in Rajasthan. None of these elements seem to make sense together. The added insult was the title of the shoot, ‘Indian Affair’. Why was Vogue India exoctisizing (sometimes you need to make up your own words) India? Like most readers pointed out, there was absolutely nothing Indian about the 10th anniversary editorial shoot of Vogue India.
Now you can argue to say that there are lots of non-white women on magazine covers distributed in predominantly white countries. Of course thats true but most of these women are relevant to that country in some way. For instance, Priyanka Chopra was on the Elle USA cover as a part of her role in Quantico. The Jenner issue is different. Firstly, the representation of non-white women on fashion magazine covers is laughably inadequate and comparing the issue to non-white women on magazine covers in the west is absurd. And secondly, Kendall Jenner was not on the cover because of any connection to India at all. She was on the cover just because she is a white American super model. How many non-white women are on covers of western fashion magazines just because they are famous only within their own cultures? Let me know if you have any names – I wasn’t able to find any.
The second thing people seemed to be annoyed about is Jenner herself. Which I found to be interesting. I don’t really have a opinion on Jenner herself and remember her more for what she wore for Chanel than who she is – she is just another clothes horse. But from the comments there seems to be a lot of hate towards Jenner particularly. Readers seem to be angry that she didn’t post any pictures of India during her trip there or pictures of her magazine cover, apparently stated she disliked Indian food (I have nothing in fact to substantiate this since I did not have a conversation with Jenner about tandoori chicken although apparently she said this during an episode on her reality show) and seemed generally uninterested in India and its culture. Personally I do find someone uninterested in Indian culture strange (I mean how can you not be in wonder about a country like India?) but thats not the point. What intrigued me about Jenner on the cover is Vogue India’s thinking behind this. Was it really the best business decision to put her on the cover for the 10th anniversary issue just after her Pepsi fiasco? Didn’t it send alarm bells ringing? And more importantly, Vogue has been through this before and quite recently with the Karlie Kloss and Vogue US issue? Why does Vogue keep making the same mistakes over and over again?
Is Vogue and other similar fashion magazines out of fashion?
If you don’t have plans for the weekend yet, I recommend reading our new post on the fashion events on in London. However, in the honour of full disclosure, please also read my not so complimentary review of the #Vogue100 exhibit. #linkinbio
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Vogue was called out of touch after some editors made derogatory comments about fashion bloggers – it did sound like the pot calling the kettle black or whatever is the fashion equivalent of this. The magazine has been called racist and sexist after featuring women of the same shape, size and age, again and again. Vogue has been called out for this again and again but is this actually their strategy? Everyone knows the print and magazine industry is in dire straits so is this just their way of being in the news and being relevant? Is controversy better for business than fan following and loyalty?
I can only talk about myself – I did at one point of time read Vogue and even buy some issues but now I can barely remember the last time I did (actually I can, it was last year, almost exactly this week). I don’t even read it online unless someone posts a link to a particularly interesting story and that is usually more about books or art than fashion. So what about you? What did you think of the Jenner controversy and what are your thoughts about the relevance of fashion magazines today?