Is domestic violence in Vogue?

SARAH OAKES
Last updated 11:53 20/09/2012
Vogue cover
The cover in question.

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Despite declining circulation and the proliferation of smart phones and tablets a risky magazine cover still has the ability to capture our micro-sized attention spans.

In fact it seems that the decline in magazine sales is linked exponentially to an increase in inappropriate, controversy-baiting covers.

And what a bumper year 2012 has been for flat-out bizarre cover decisions.

Just last week GQ chose to run a series of male celebrities suited and booted while leaving singer Lana Del Ray without a thing to wear.

Last month a Spanish magazine was condemned for superimposing the face of Michelle Obama onto the body of a female slave

Earlier in the year South African Marie Claire went viral when they did a different kind of Photoshop hatchet job on Duchess Kate's body.

Meanwhile Time's cover story on the attachment parenting debate featuring an image of a 26-year-old mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old child made international headlines.

Yesterday another misadventure in cover design was revealed by French Vogue.

Their latest effort features Stephanie Seymour being choked by male model Marlon Teixeira in what can most accurately be described as high fashion meets domestic violence.

And what an unsubtle piece of imagery it is; Seymour stands rigid in a submissive pose with her shirt unbuttoned and her eyes laced with a not-so-faint expression of fear.

Teixeira with his pre-orgasmic facial expression appears in control with one hand on her breast and another firmly around her throat - albeit for one finger which he seems to be licking.

French Vogue adores controversy. In fact blurring the lines of what is acceptable and showing little to no regard for what the public think tends to be their modus operandi.

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Just last year they published a fashion shoot featuring Thylane Blondeau, a 10-year-old model who seductively posed on leopard print bed covers while wearing heavy make-up and gold stilettos.

They are credited with creating "porno chic" a trend they've illustrated over the years in shoots featuring various models tied up with rope.

And in 2009 they notoriously shot Dutch supermodel Lara Stone in blackface for a spread styled by then editor Carine Roitfeld.

Since the magazine's release four separate domestic violence and women's rights advocacy groups in the US have written to the Chairman of Conde Nast (French Vogue's publisher) Si Newhouse and his Editorial Director Thomas Wallace to express their disgust and ask that the issue be removed from newsstands.

One powerful letter from The Sanctuary of Families included these important messages;

" A 2008 Journal of Emergency Medicine study of murders of women in 11 cities found that 43 per cent of women who were killed by intimate partners had experienced at least one previous episode of choking before being killed.

 In 2010, New York State made choking a violent felony, and advocates, prosecutors, police officers and survivors throughout the State have embraced the law as a way to save women's lives.

While this cover was perhaps intended to shock and thrill potential readers, the truly shocking fact is that it glorifies violence against women and sends a dangerous message to anyone who sees this magazine - that choking is a sign of passion rather than of violence."

Read the full letter here

In the first half of this year, newsstand sales in the US for Conde Nast's heavy hitting titles Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker all fell in the double digits.

So things at head office in New York where Newhouse and Wallace are based aren't great right now.

In fact you can almost hear the sound of Louboutins pacing the halls. I'm sure many might say it's a good time to take risks, to do things that get people talking about and engaging with magazines again.

Whatever their strategy is for keeping magazines relevant, the one thing we know for sure is that no matter how outrageous trends get or what boundaries designers and editors push fetishising the abuse of women is a dangerous game that despite its presence this month in French Vogue will never, ever be in fashion.

- Daily Life

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