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Vogue editor apologises for homeless woman photo

By Annie Stevens

Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis
Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis.
Fashion needs to quit the homeless chic fascination

A Vogue editor (and descendent of German royalty) has apologised after her thoughtless Instagram post went viral.

croppedvogueinstagram

Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, an editor at large for American Vogue got herself into a spot of bother over the weekend during Paris Fashion Week after posting a photo of a homeless woman appearing to read a copy of Vogue.

She captioned the photo, “Paris is full of surprises … and @voguemagazine readers even in unexpected corners.” Clearly von Thurn and Taxis followers are not as tone deaf as she appears to be, with many criticising the post by calling it “tasteless” and “awful.”

Von Thurn and Taxis initially defended the post, writing “The person to me is as dignified as anyone else!” She later took down the post, replacing it with an image of Paris and a caption

“I wanted to extend my sincerest apologies for the offence my post has caused.”

It might sound like something straight out of Zoolander (remember ‘derelicte chic’ and try not to think that the film was actually a documentary) but it’s not the first time that the fashion industry has delved into homelessness as a touchstone. Disgraced designer John Galliano tried to make homelessness chic happen in 2000 with a collection of tattered dresses and newspaper print inspired pieces, Vivienne Westwood sent male models down the catwalk in 2010 carrying bed rolls with ‘frost bite’ make up. Then there’s the fashion bloggers that photograph the ‘style’ of homeless people on the street.

You could argue that designers and the fashion industry were making a point about a social problem and bringing awareness to it – but in a billion dollar industry with the aim of selling clothes, it doesn’t sit well. It looks out of touch, which is of course the last thing that the fashion industry should be.

It’s too glib, and in ‘finding inspiration’ in less fortunate people it merely puts a high gloss on a deep societal problem.

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