October 15, 2009, 11:27 pm
Filed under: letters

Vogue is PC. Except when it’s not.

Recent issues of American Vogue magazine have included ads from two noteworthy sources: a cigarette company and something called “Origin Assured”.

Origin Assured is a garment labeling program developed by the International Fur Trade Federation along with several fur auction houses. To qualify as Origin Assured, fur must be sourced from OA-approved species and OA-approved countries. The idea is that giving fur ateliers the ability to advertise their garments as Origin Assured will convince customers concerned about animal welfare that their purchase qualifies as responsible – not to mention protecting the ateliers’ bottom line and keeping flour-chucking PETA types away. Whether or not Origin Assured actually protects the chinchilla and fox or is just a clever PR move, it sure seems like the fashion industry is trying to up its political correctness factor. Except, not.

The presence of cigarette ads is conspicuous since smoking ads in fashion magazines — or anywhere, for that matter — have become more scarce and are kind of, well, out of vogue. The mag is not alone in accepting tobacco ads. Many of its ilk have done the same. Smoking and fashion have shared an enduring, entangled relationship: photographers have long used cigarettes to create  mood, models use cigarettes to stay rail thin and some designers have even had girls puff their way down the runway. Magazines and runways are said to be the places to look for discovering what’s “in”. But smoking really is not. Sure, public service announcements, after school specials and those terrifying anti-smoking commercials broadcast the dangers of smoking, but the most effective deterrent to most Vogue readers is probably that  most guys are turned off by a girl with a cigarette. And most girls agree that kissing a guy who smokes really is akin to the ol’ “licking an ashtray” analogy. Not attractive.

I’m thinkin’ the explanation for the industry’s contradiction between mounting an effort to protect the welfare of animals while advertising products harmful to the welfare of people is pretty obvious: cash. Cigarette ads boost revenue. Fur sales do the same. Apparently, the devil wears Prada – – –  plus a big mink coat – – – while having a smoke.

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