vogueindia_poortaste1.jpgKimberley Foster writes...

As you can probably imagine, after reading on Monday about Vogue India's senseless decision to recruit a group of impoverished people, including children, and dress them in Hermès and Burberry for a glossy photo-shoot, I like many of you, have been left pretty freaked out.

While frighteningly this isn't the first time a fashion magazine has forgotten itself all for the sake of 'art', or if you like, publicity (see our story on this Chinese magazine) these images are arguably some of the most alarming to be published. Particularly this shot of a young child (left) in the arms of a toothless woman, wearing a bib designed by Fendi, worth about $100. Considering the average Indian person lives on less than $1.25 a day, congratulations should go out to Vogue India for reducing fashion to an all-time low.

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Perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised, as Jezebel points out: "it's a Western-owned fashion magazine in a country that values Western beauty, where skin lightening is big business". I guess it explains Vogue India's editor, Priya Tanna's, response to the backlash, she says: "Lighten up. You have to remember with fashion, you can't take it that seriously."

Of course not, I mean, why not use people as props to sell luxury goods, as long as everybody is having a jolly ole' time in the process, right? Who knew that Zoolander's 'Derelicte' fashion label would one day be taken so literally, and dragged out into real life.

Tanna also adds that "fashion is no longer a rich man's privilege". In that case, does that mean that the folks in this shoot got to keep the Hermès Birkin bag or Burberry umbrella? Since they weren't even referred to by name in the credits, just lady or man, and since only a fraction of India's population can actually afford these items, I think Tanna might be slightly confused.

Frankly, I don't know what is worse, knowing that these pictures were actually published, or hearing someone try to defend them. Either way, writing about it is simply giving it more undeserving publicity, so I'll stop right now.

[Photos: via NY Times]