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Does Vogue Italia’s April Cover Spread Glamorize Violence Against Women, Take a Stand Against Domestic Abuse — or None of the Above?

Vogue Italia April cover where Issa Lish is wearing all white on a blood stained banister with her attacker nearby

Image: Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia via Vogue.It

In a feature which went up on The Independent yesterday, fashion editor Alex Fury grapples with the April Vogue Italia cover story which, according to editor Franca Sozzani, was created to raise awareness for domestic violence. (The spread was photographed by Steven Meisel and stars models Issa Lish and Natalie Westling.)

"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," Sozzani tells Fury. "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.”

Fury suggests that it might be insensitive for a man (in this case, Meisel — who has photographed every single Vogue Italia cover since Sozzani became EIC) to create images depicting violence against women perpetrated by men.

"Questions are raised as to whether the images can avoid trivialising or glamorizing these issues," he writes of the publication's controversial editorials. 

Perhaps if these images really did get at the gruesome and yet relatively common horror of domestic abuse, it could seem inappropriate and exploitative that they were shot by a male photographer, for the glossiest of glossy fashion magazines. However, as it stands, the spread (which is available in full on Vogue.it) appears to have almost nothing to do with the purported issue, except that it involves male-on-female violence taking place in private residences.

I pretty much agree completely with commenter Mikel, posting to the issue's Forum thread: "After seeing the whole editorial, the 'glamorizing violence against women' thing planted by The Independent article seems rather silly and pointless. The entire editorial basically consists of perfectly executed stills from a horror movie and (spoiler alert) the women in the end are victorious in defeating their attacker."

See the full editorial (including a dreamy backstage video) on Vogue.it.

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