Vogue Honors Sandy First Responders with Controversial Photo Shoot


Back in November, Brazilian model Nana Gouvea felt the Internet’s wrath after she used the Hurricane Sandy aftermath as a backdrop to further her career. Needless to say, those photos did garner attention, just not the kind she wanted.

Now Vogue is on an eerily similar hot seat after their most recent issue contained a high fashion spread honoring Sandy responders. General opinion seems to be that the photos were in bad taste, relegating the first responders to ‘prop’ status while the Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors clad models took center stage.


Even the photo captions have come under scrutiny. Pairing stories of the first responders’ heroic deeds with descriptions of the models’ clothes, hair and make-up makes them seem, at best, awkward.

For example, the caption for the photo above reads:

…“We jumped into the back of a high-water vehicle,” says paramedic Jason Verspoor, “and were able to evacuate about 30 or 40 people before we had to evacuate ourselves to higher ground—we spent the night on a bridge, then went back in with the National Guard to work on patients.” On Iman: Narciso Rodriguez camisole and pencil skirt. On Kloss: Diane von Furstenberg dress… Hair: Julien d’Ys for Julien d’Ys Makeup: Stéphane Marais Production design: Mary Howard


The photos were taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz and appear in the February 2013 issue of Vogue. But if you want to see all 6 and don’t see any need to buy the entire magazine, you can check them out on Vogue’s website.

(via Slate)

  • Jason

    more power to them! probably a really cool experience to be in an leibowitz shoot

  • Bryan

    I’m sorry, but does anybody proofread these articles?

  • Ineptphotog

    In the second pic, the firemen really look to be enjoying themselves!

  • DamianM

    Leibowitz is broke and apparently desperate.

    The images are just very awkward.

    Its great that they are trying to honor the First responders, but it could have been done differently.

    Just focus on them.

    Take out the unnecessary models and Just focus on them. These images are just very awkward.

  • Vlad Dusil

    Fashion is art, I get it. Yet these images seem out of context, random and, as Damian mentioned, awkward. Why not just document the first responders without placing Karlie Kloss and whatsherface into the frame.

    In my opinion this spread is rather silly than controversial.

  • Huy Truong

    its a fashion magazine not newsweek

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    I don’t see why these are controversial. It’s Vogue’s way of honoring the first responders. Perhaps they could’ve done it different, and like Vlad suggested, only focused on the first responders without the models. But still, controversial?


    35 million was given to Sandys victims-I say give them a half a million a piece and call it a day.the rest can go to other storm victims of this country.

  • Phil Elms

    That’s the most ridiculous set of photos I’ve seen in a long while.

  • pete n pete

    By having the first responders pose with models in a fashion magazine, it relegates them to props in a fashion shoot, not the subject. Bad form.

  • bgrady413

    This is a ridiclous concept. Akward execution and only would have been more tasteless if they actually used that brazillian model. Actually if they did use her, I would have had more respect for the irony of it!

  • Banan Tarr


  • Paul C

    They are certainly awkward at first glance, but some do work and are fun – and who’s to say that’s an invalid approach, especially for a fashion magazine. The hospital one is runined though by the model on the left side pointing towards the far left, but actually looking like she prodding that woman’s head. Terrible oversight.

  • Stephan Haggerty

    Oh God… Leibovitz..that explains this garbage right there. What exploitative trash. This should receive some prize for stupidity and inducing nausea.

  • Mansgame

    wow that’s bad. the whole “hero” part is that you don’t pat yourself on the back.

  • eraserhead12

    still no excuse for bad taste and poor creative directing. comes off pretty awkward in that last pic where there are actual women lol.

  • eraserhead12

    these photoshoots basically epitomize the notion that haute couture is out-of-touch, conceited, materialistic, and downright absurd.

    To be fair, the other pictures were better–all should have been like the hospital pic.

  • allie

    They could have done a fashion spread using the first responders as models. Instead they made them look like props to sell gowns.

    The photo of the firefighters walking down the street in Far Rockaway with the models is especially distasteful I think. Using a recently decimated town as a backdrop to sell a designer dress….wow.

    Really I wonder who made this decision, because each shot looks like you remove the model completely and you would have a decent image. It’s like the model was clumsily thrown in at the last minute.

  • WKYA_Radio

    These pics are just stupid.

  • Renato Murakami

    Here’s what I’m thinking right now: These are in poor taste because they reflect our society quite a bit.
    People admires models, fashion, brands and consumerism over a great police task force, rescue teams, firemen and other professions and professionals that saves lives everyday.
    And those pics, coming from a fashion magazine, not only makes it more obvious but also appears to say that this is the right way, in a very egotistical sense.
    The last pic is specially bad, with model above workers in uniform, with the pic cutting their waistlines.
    I don’t know what Annie Leibovitz was trying to do here, but I can’t believe someone would be naive enough to consider this a proper homage.
    Makes it look like first responders are the ones honouring the models, like models are leading the first response teams, or like models are put above a pedestal to be admired.
    She didn’t even have to exclude models from the pics for a proper homage. Let them there, let Vogue sell the damn clothes. Just make it a proper homage and put first responders on the first plane, as the main subject. It would still be bad taste using that to sell clothing, but at least the image wouldn’t be as bad.