Vogue India Debuts With Australian Blonde On Front, Bleeding Heart Inside?

Illustration for article titled Vogue India Debuts With Australian Blonde On Front, Bleeding Heart Inside?

The inaugural issue of Vogue India supposedly hit newsstands today — though no one told our newsstand — and thank the Lords for colonialism because it's in English. Reads the announcement on the Vogue UK: "Is there anywhere chicer to be than part of the Vogue family?" (Is there anything more obnoxious than that sentence?) Anyway, Gemma Ward is on the cover, which is causing a stir among the PC police over at Fabsugar. (Q: "Is she part Indian or something?" A: "def not Indian") and after the first two pages of a Telegraph story on the launch of the eighteenth version of Vogue we were ready to roll to pull out our eyebrows over the warmed-over talk of realistic body images, instilling "confidence", affirmation and what to wear to a launch party important enough to have a waiter:guest ratio of 1.1 to 1 but not important enough for Anna Wintour to attend, when somewhere we started sort of rooting for the plucky staff of Vogue India:

So what does it all mean? Well, not much to the estimated 300 million Indians living on 50p a day; not much to the 64 per cent of the population of Bihar who can't read; not much to the rural communities in the state of Madhya Pradesh suffering because there are no roads. They will not be interested in the news that Thierry Mugler's Parfum Coffret contains 'human sweat and even sperm'. 'There is still immense poverty - I mean immense,' [art director Meera] Kumari says.

'Sixteen per cent of people in Bombay are living in the slums,' [features editor Bandana] Tewari says. 'You are meandering in your beautiful car through all the little gullies, on the mobile phone talking about über-chic labels as you pass slums kids with snotty noses. Our lives are a contradiction, but we have a choice - you can rejoice in it or you can be a pessimist.

'My husband is from Melbourne, but it's a Barbie doll existence - where is the struggle? Where is the angst? There is comfort in chaos, conformity brings too many rules - here there is a strange sense of freedom that you can only understand if you live here. I have a five-year-old daughter [named Mai-rah after Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge]. I think it is important for her to know that this is the environment that she is growing up in. I am not going to shelter her from the dirt and the filth - but then I also bring her to the Vogue office.


Spoken like someone with a slightly keener understanding of those "arrant social inequities etc." than the editors of certain other magazines called Vogue. Hey, how about we outsource some more of our women's magazine writing to India?

And yeah also: sperm perfume... I guess we should order that.

Jewel In The Crown [Telegraph]
There's A Chic New Addition To The Vogue Family Today [Vogue UK]


Jenna Sauers

It's not really that big a deal that Indian Vogue is in English. India's one of the most linguistically diverse places on earth - the constitution recognises something like 23 different languages, and counting dialects and minority languages, the tally climbs over 1,500. Hindi and English are the two official languages. I've always found it a little patronising when Western writers/publications criticise subaltern writers/publications for taking up "the language of the colonisers." Especially given contemporary American writers seem to feel no pressure to get back in touch with their country's pre-colonial languages.