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make love. not war.

4 July 2009

Vogue Italia; Steven Meisel 1

Vogue Italia; Steven Meisel 2

Vogue Italia; Steven Meisel 3

Vogue Italia; Steven Meisel 4

Vogue Italia; Steven Meisel 5

{Make Love Not War // Vogue Italia // September 2007 // Models: Agyness Deyn, Missy Rayder, Caroline Trentini, Raquel Zimmermann, Julia Stegner, Daniel Pimentel, Blaine Cook, Chad Dunn, Chad White, Isaac Haldeman, Nathan Nesbitt, Oraine Barrett, Rodrigo Calazans, Travone Hill // Ph.: Steven Meisel // image source}

Whomever assumes fashion to be merely the epitome of superficial materialism says such a statement with great ignorance. I am hardly disregarding the aspects of the fashion industry that truly are notorious for frivolity – because it does exist. But it is unfair that minute areas of the industry become the very label that fashion itself is stereotyped to be. Fashion is beyond the clothes we wear on our backs; it possesses depth in which the majority of the population haven’t yet seen. In that case, Miranda Priestly would straighten you on that front

Nor are fashion magazines simply filled with fluff. Witty articles written by contributors are oftentimes forgotten (ELLE seems to publish the best, in my humble opinion). And everything else featured in a single issue of the magazine is a work of art: a designer’s perspective executed into some form of apparel or accessory, a story told by a photographer through an editorial. The amount of depth and work that is put into each issue is taken for granted. Editorials, in specific, have been greatly overlooked. To some extent it is about the presentation of the designer apparel and accessories; but beyond the surface of pre-positioned models in fabulous clothing and specialized lighting, the photographer behind the lens is telling his or her story. An idea, a perspective, a point of view

Steven Meisel, an esteemed photographer for US and Italian Vogue, was the man behind the editorial “Make Love, Not War” featured in Vogue Italia September 2007. The running story was deemed controversial almost immediately; was it propagandistic and simply crude? Or was it a story laden with both symbolism and Meisel’s take on the war – specifically the war in Iraq? Feminists marked it as the former, disgusted at how violence was depicted as erotic, and how the models were portrayed in the semi-nude that bordered on light pornography. Others called it crude, sex-filled “American trash”. Also known as “bad art.”

But there is no such thing as bad art.

Or good art, for that matter. Art is only as good as the viewer interprets it to be, depending on how far in depth you wish to analyze. A first glance at “Make Love Not War” may insinuate erotica in violence, or perhaps seeming to be yet another of those superficial attempts at symbolic messaging through fashion. After all, the models are clad in muddy, designer gowns that showcase bare upper bodies, positioned suggestively across the male, uniform-clad models.

Yet through my eyes Steven Meisel has created a brilliantly composed editorial. The gowns themselves are showcased beautifully, the juxtaposition of utilitarian crudeness with glamour resulting in balance and dimension. Each photo portrays the darkness of war almost word for word – the tension, sex, violence, and downward spiraling of morality – as well as what truly happens in the barracks. The ugliness of  about war is portrayed, ironically, with beauty and vulgarity. Beauty to please Vogue readers, vulgarity to shock the ignorant.

Is it blasphemous of me to declare that I do not support the war in Iraq, particularly on a day that requires me to be patriotic? Perhaps. I should hope I will not be labeled as some heretic socialist or anarchist against my own country. I love the United States, regardless of its ups and downs, or the choices of our nation’s leaders make. I am an advocate and lover of democracy, a girl who relishes in her freedoms and believes wholly and fully in freedom of speech. So in seeing Meisel’s photography for this particular shoot, I had, in a sense, put my own beliefs into his work to interpret the editorial. Whether or not Meisel intended for his photographs to be a representation of his distaste for the war in Iraq will never be known until he reveals it; but I had seen the series as such. The desperation, the moral decline, the ugliness that happened under certain commanders is almost obvious in my eyes. The leisurely way in which the models are positioned – hanging about and the likes – seem to imply the question I have asked myself many times since 2001. Why are we in Iraq? Do our troops belong there? And for what are they fighting for? Terrorism cannot ever be tangible – it is as elusive as fog: we can see it, but we cannot grasp it. It only seems as if this war was a meaningless crusade of which we had no place to be. I laugh as I re-read this – it is quite obvious I am an unabashed Democrat, and quite the fan of President Obama. But I digress. My main point has eluded me in all my nonstop rambling, thoughts flooding to my fingertips as they type madly.

There is depth to fashion. Fashion – whether through design or editorials – is representative of our generation. The cultures, the ideals, the controversies, the events – all of which are reflected through what we wear. Because in the end, clothing represents not just ourselves as individuals, but ourselves as a whole.

For my darling American readers, happy Independence Day!

And for all others, I wish you a happy fourth of July.


La C. 

41 Comments leave one →
  1. 4 July 2009 4:36 pm

    Beautifully put! I think we’re all entitled to an escape from the daily realities of life. And those escapes are subjective. It is no one’s right to judge.

  2. 4 July 2009 4:42 pm

    what a deep almost crude, but ever so beautiful editorial!
    once again, your writing is wonderful – it’s so ridiculous how some people see the fashion industry as mere materialism – it’s obvious that it’s a core part of the world that creates dreams. i await for the day that i can read your articles in a major fashion magazine, or for my designs to be featured there.
    it’s a place in our existence that makes part of our lives go round – and as you have shown here in this post, it’s relative to how we live our lives, but it’s not all about fashion all the time. everything relates to it, even the most crucial of topics.

    happy july 4th, la c. ❤

  3. Alize Morand permalink
    4 July 2009 4:59 pm

    Oh. My. God.

    I love how you challenge stereotypes & clichés of the fashion world – populated my many shallow individuals indeed. But not only, thank God! I love how you approached the art perspective too, which is very close to my heart, as you know!

    Overall loving this article, and the ability of Vogue Italia to push boundaries.

    Have a wonderful Independence day, my dear!

    Many bisous! x

    • 4 July 2009 5:04 pm

      Alize: Fashion and art are our passions, of course! (: I’ve just DM-ed you on Twitter, darling! (: xx

  4. 4 July 2009 5:33 pm

    Wow, I love this post and that editorial. You write so wonderfully, and I completely agree with you about the stereotypes of the fashion world. I cannot believe it when people think of fashion as something frivolous, or materialistic, because it is so much more than that.

    Happy 4th!

    – laur @ neonmango

  5. 4 July 2009 5:38 pm

    “There is no such thing as bad art”. Agreed! I enjoyed reading your thoghtful post and I think fashion is something we can all take pleasures in and appreciate the stories told by the photographers, stylists, editors and models. xxoxoxxo

  6. Airam permalink
    4 July 2009 5:43 pm

    First: What a powerful editorial! I’m especially intrigued by the first photo – somehow it reminds me of Natalie Portman in “V for Vendetta” Have you seen it, by the way? If you haven’t, you should give it a go. I think you might like it, especially after I’ve read your opinions on politics and war in this post. Which brings me to…

    Second: Thank you for reminding me that fashion isn’t as superficial and self-centered as some people believe. I’ve been struggling a little lately with how much time I spend on my blog (or simply thinking about it, planning posts, etc.), thinking maybe I should be writing more music or practicing instead (truthfully, I probably should, but since I’ve been ill for the past two weeks or so it’s been impossible to sing). This post reminded me of why I find fashion so powerful, and how it says much more than simply “I want to look pretty” or “I have (or haven’t, for that matter) much money”.

    You really are an outstanding writer, and not just for your age, but an outstanding writer, period. I’m really looking forwards to you next post, chérie.

    • 4 July 2009 6:04 pm

      Airam: I LOVED V for Vendetta – I love movies about politics & gov’t and such (I know, I’m such a nerd). And darling I hope you feel better! Do write more music – I want to watch you perform [vicariously] through your videos!

      I’m blushing now. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!

      La C.

  7. 4 July 2009 6:25 pm

    Love this editorial! Very timely post!

    Happy 4th, darling!


  8. Clare Brown permalink
    4 July 2009 7:36 pm

    Fabulous post. Often times fashion is considered superficial. But isn’t fashion, in essence, the most common source of self expression?
    Beautiful images as well!


  9. 4 July 2009 7:46 pm

    great pics!

  10. 4 July 2009 7:49 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree, ELLE does publish the best pieces. Sadly, when it comes to fashion magazines, so many amazing pieces go unnoticed; lost in the shuffle of gorgeous pictures of models. I should someday love to publish an anthology of the best articles featured in ELLE – I believe it would be a bestseller! 🙂

    Happy, Happy 4th of July, darling!

  11. thebaglady permalink
    4 July 2009 9:39 pm

    Another brilliant piece! I knew you weren’t the typical teenage fashionista in that you were quite intellectual but wow I love that you have a stance on politics. (you were restraining yourself, weren’t you? haha) I totally agree with EVERYTHING you said.

    And that editorial. Crude but true.

  12. 4 July 2009 9:42 pm

    Wow these are quite different! I think that editorial is very well done x Sushi

  13. 4 July 2009 9:54 pm

    I love that first photo.

  14. 5 July 2009 1:37 am

    I’ve always liked art and editorials that push the envelope, and make statements. I love this editorial. I think it’s deep, and goes beyond the “frivolous,” as you put it.
    I also don’t find you a heretic at all for not supporting the war in Iraq. You can still be an American, and be happy about that and freedom without wanting to be in a war that is being fought on no grounds and costing this country a fortune to support. That is your right, to agree and disagree with decisions, and fight for what you believe in!
    Lovely post as always, darling. You have such insight and such a gift of words.

  15. Olga permalink
    5 July 2009 4:09 am

    After see your coment I inmediatly went to check out your blog and i loved the editorials you posted, they are amazing and with a touch of glamour that I love.

    I am going to add you.

    And thanks for your coment!

    See ya!

    Olga xx!

  16. Olga permalink
    5 July 2009 4:13 am

    I meant after seeing! hehe! Sorry about my mistakes!


    Olga xx!

  17. 5 July 2009 4:14 am

    Wow. You are an amazing writer. This article is beautifully written, and really does make you think. Lots of people think fashion is just about clothes, but yh: it has much more depth to it.

  18. 5 July 2009 5:22 am

    wow, that was such an amazing post! really helped to boost my love of fashion, and thats a really great editorial! thanks so much for the comment too 🙂 xx

  19. 5 July 2009 5:46 am

    Oh yeah, what a gorge post! 🙂

    I love Ur new header!


    Happy belated 4th of July!


  20. 5 July 2009 6:23 am

    Thank you for writing something so interesting and I find quite thought provoking. I agree, many people see fashion simply as materialistic, but it is in its self an art form.


  21. 5 July 2009 6:34 am

    amazing editorial!

  22. 5 July 2009 6:35 am

    Great title! Great post! 🙂

  23. 5 July 2009 6:52 am

    Beautiful & edgy pics…! 🙂

  24. 5 July 2009 8:59 am

    I adore Vogue Italia editorials, they’re all so unique. And the cover stories always involve some “hot topic”, such as plastic surgery, rehabs, war and The Black Issue, of course.
    Lucy =)

  25. 5 July 2009 10:31 am

    Beautifully writeen La C, you yourself have quite a way with words. Hope youre having a marvellous weekend.

    – nadia

  26. 5 July 2009 10:38 am

    great images!

  27. 5 July 2009 11:06 am

    fantastic pictures and great message 🙂

  28. 5 July 2009 11:11 am


    yeah, i heard it’s pretty hard:(
    im just soo excited<sarcastic. haha
    ill probably like, fail!

  29. 5 July 2009 11:13 am

    hi there-

    thanks for the comment!! just went through your blog and I think really think it’s AMAZING 🙂 thanks fo finding us!! hope you visit us again soon!!

    take care,

  30. 5 July 2009 11:21 am

    The first photo is absolutely stunning. The contrast in concepts is remarkable. You almost forget for a brief moment that they are trying to sell clothing.

  31. 5 July 2009 11:56 am

    I absolutely love your article, happy independence day too! (though I don’t celebrate it here) That editorial is has got really deep content and is executed beautifully I reckon! And I really respect photographers who make an effort to inject meaning and convey a message regarding societal and global issues that address us today, not just produce editorials that are simply pretty as it always triggers my conscience that while we are enjoying the luxury of fashion, people are living in poverty…your article has definitely set me reflecting and thinking again! =]

    • 6 July 2009 4:45 am

      theresa: Thank you darling! And I too hold great respect for photographers who photograph to capture not just the clothing, but to express/tell a viewpoint or story. It flatters me to hear that my article has inspired one to think (:

  32. 5 July 2009 4:46 pm

    Where are you finding the time to do these amazing posts? While we’re all sitting around like slugs, setting off fireworks, you’ve been writing. I love the Miriam R. outfit in the newest post. The photos in this one really call out to me. xo

    • 5 July 2009 4:58 pm

      diane: Haha! I always have a notebook with me; while my dad was barbeque-ing, I felt inspired and began to write (: I try to make use of any minute I have to write!


  33. 7 July 2009 3:22 pm

    sensuality, reality, ambiguity, passions, so many strong emotions…

  34. 9 July 2009 3:46 pm

    Interesting reflexion. This editorial was b-r-i-l-l-i-a-n-t. Think Apocalypse now meets Vogue It, and you get that awkard-paradoxal result. It’s moving… after all, that’s what fashion is for, right ?


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