Never mind the Hurricane Sandy victims – there’s a ‘Vogue’ close-up to be shot

After Hurricane Sandy, US Vogue paid 'tribute' to the 'stalwart souls' who worked hard to keep New York alive - by using models in designer dresses

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Blackouts are the new black.

Flooding is in fashion. And the must-have accessory for spring/summer 2013? A fed-up fireman, preferably with charming sooty face and thousand-yard stare. Trust me, he will look so hot with your Narciso Rodriguez pencil skirt in carmine silk.

This, at least, is the message of US Vogue which has taken inspiration from Hurricane Sandy – which killed 253 people, including 53 in New York, left millions without power for days, destroyed thousands of homes and businesses and caused $63bn in damage – for its latest fashion shoot. Over 12 glossy pages, Vogue and the photographer Annie Leibovitz (who should know better) pay tribute to the “stalwart souls” who worked hard to keep New York alive. And they do it by sending models in overpriced dresses to tower over them and generally get in the way of their important work.

There they are, commandeering a lifeboat, waves licking at their pristine Vera Wang. There they are, draped over a truck rocking crocheted leather as the National Guard heaves food parcels into the trunk. And there they are, ballgown billowing, astride a turbine at a generating station, looking down on the hard-hatted minions. Ben Stiller must be kicking himself that his outlandish parody of the rag trade, 'Zoolander', which features Derelicte, a fashion line “inspired by the very homeless, the vagrants, the crack whores that make this wonderful city so unique” – has now been so thoroughly surpassed by real life.

Vogue has a habit of plumbing the shallows of disaster. In 2010, its Italian edition slicked models in oil as a comment on Deepwater Horizon. In 2007, it took on Iraq with a steamy war-zone shoot. Perhaps we shouldn’t expect depth of response from a magazine which, in 2011, heralded the return of “slave earrings”. Or perhaps we should. Vogue’s use of the city’s heroes as extras and their stricken areas as sets to showcase luxury items is absurd. If the magazine wanted to cover Sandy, why not have Leibovitz simply shoot the real people and stories? Vogue does its readers a disservice if it believes that they won’t look at a page if it doesn’t feature jutting collarbones and bias cut. But if they do believe that, why not let the emergency workers model the clothes? Because the clothes, of course, like Vogue, aren’t made for “real people”, with their heroic hands and stalwart thighs.

Cool and collected in the face of Oscar nominations

Getting nominated for an Oscar must be far more fun than sitting through the night itself. It's a moment of pure joy, untainted by nerves, disappointment or ill-advised swan dresses. Best of all, it usually happens out of sight of the cameras.

There are exceptions. Jeremy Renner was live on the Today show sofa when he heard that he'd been nominated for The Hurt Locker in 2010. You can still watch the glee spreading across his face on YouTube.

For the most part, though, nominations are the quiet before the red carpet storm. Which is why I love to read the stories about how the lucky ones took the news. Among the usual gush about feeling humbled, honoured and how it hasn't quite sunk in, there are always a few gems. Take Alan Arkin, nominated for Argo who was, naturally, far too cool to be overwhelmed. "I got about six emails this morning that said stuff like, 'Yippee!' and 'Hurray!' I didn't know what they were talking about", he said. "There's no way to be happier than putting on a tuxedo and going through a room full of people screaming."

The top gong for nonchalance though, goes to Denzel Washington, now on to his sixth nomination. "I just returned home late last night from a family vacation, sick as a dog, when I got the call from my publicist early this morning telling me the good news about being nominated for Flight. I got up, went to the bathroom and threw up, and went back to sleep." I can't wait to see what he does if he wins.

Twitter: @alicevjones

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