This week, Vice
magazine featured a fashion spread depicting fashion models as famous female writers who killed themselves. In doing so, the magazine itself may have committed figurative suicide.
The spread—called “Last Words”—features fashion models styled and posed as famous female authors, such as Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath, in the moments before they committed suicide. The section was published in Vice
's 2013 Fiction Issue, devoted to female writers.
One model is shown kneeling before a gas oven, another wades into the water, and a third uses her tights to hang herself. The images even went so far as to include fashion credits for each item—you know, in case seeing a model with a gun in her mouth inspires you to want to buy her scarf.
called the photo layout “almost breathtakingly tasteless.” Fishbowl NY
said, “There’s nothing sexy, fashionable, or edgy about people killing themselves,” and Salon
proclaimed the spread to be “maximum trolling.”
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pulled the spread from the website and offered an apology
The fashion spreads in Vice magazine are always unconventional and approached with an art-editorial point-of-view rather than a typical fashion photo-editorial one. Our main goal is to create artful images, with the fashion message following, rather than leading.
“Last Words” was created in this tradition and focused on the demise of a set of writers whose lives we very much wish weren’t cut tragically short, especially at their own hands. We will no longer display “Last Words” on our website and apologize to anyone who was hurt or offended.
The problem with this semi-apology is that it fails to take responsibility for Vice
's gross lapse in judgment, which was to glamorize suicide in an attempt to push a product, instead blaming the readers if they don’t like it.
The spread will still appear in the print magazine, which has already gone to press.
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