• Melissa Fraser

Vogue Italia's January issue will feature no photography

Updated: Mar 28, 2020

Vogue Italia's January issue will not feature any photography, in order to shine a light on the carbon footprint of a major fashion shoot. Instead, 7 different illustrated covers & every feature inside will be illustrated without photography.

Italian Vogues's editor in chief Emanuele Farneti listed some of the resources it took to fill the September 2019 issue, the biggest of the year, with original photographs:

“One hundred and fifty people involved. About twenty flights and a dozen or so train journeys. Forty cars on standby. Sixty international deliveries. Lights switched on for at least ten hours nonstop, partly powered by gasoline-fuelled generators. Food waste from the catering services. Plastic to wrap the garments. Electricity to recharge phones, cameras etc…”.

The featured illustrated work will depict real-life models all wearing Gucci. Farneti said 'the challenge was to prove it's possible to showcase clothes without photography'.

He also told the New York Times: “I think that the most honest way to face a problem is starting by admitting it. That was our way to say that we know we are part of a business that is far from being sustainable.”

The move follows a global mission statement by Farneti and the 25 other international Vogue editors in December that introduced the launch of Vogue Values, a global mission statement that articulates the titles' shared commitments for 2020 and beyond. Italian Vogue also highlighted the fact that they will be one of the first of Condé Nast’s international publications to use 100% compostable plastic wrapping in 2020.

Farneti continued to mention, all savings from producing an issue without costly photo shoots would go toward the restoration of the Querini Stampalia Onlus Foundation in Venice, which was damaged by the floods in November 2019.

As a sustainability advocate, I'm all for this. However, I'm conflicted as a photographer. Why is the carbon footprint of a major fashion shoot so high? And can we find alternatives?

Yes, sometimes those glossy images of models, photographed in glamorous locations require a small army of hairstylists, makeup artists, editors and assistants? But these can all my adapted to produce a smaller environmental impact.

The elimination of photos might help to raise awareness, but it will most certainly not materially alter the effects on the environment. Analysing Farneti's statement above, many of his reasons for no photography can be altered, a better solution might include:

  • Shooting locally.

  • Using local talent.

  • Turning of cars whilst not in transit.

  • Could you use a different source of energy, solar perhaps?

  • Buy in less food, resulting in less waste.

  • Explore an alternative to plastic for wrapping up garments.

It is easy for me to comment as an outsider, however, I believe it just takes a different way of thinking. I'm not in any way rejecting the idea, yes, as a photographer dismissing photos is slightly concerning, however, it's obvious that the industy of fashion photography needs a good re-think.

Currently, the fashion industry (particularly fast fashion) encourages consumerism. The elimination of photos may be a non-serious solution, nevertheless, the lovely illustrations have acted as a conversation starter.

Can fashion photography be sustainable? And what changes must be made?

See all illustrated covers at https://www.instagram.com/vogueitalia/?utm_source=ig_embed



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