“Last Words”- Suicide & Fashion

I debated if I wanted to write about this or not because the topic is such a sensitive topic, the lines between art and glamourizing suicide and mental health for the sake of fashion. Fashion has always been a little on the edge of crossing the lines of appropriate and jaw dropping. Louis Vuitton took their models from the runway to the dark alleys of Paris to portray them as prostitutes for a short film. Marc Jacobs “Oh, lola” fragrance with Dakota Fanning and a bottle of perfume sitting strategically in between her legs was banned for being to sexually provocative. How far is to far? Should some topics not be touched?

In June of this year the unconventional and often times controversial magazine VICE had their fiction issue which covered a lot of women writers. One of their fashion spreads focused on women writers like Sylvia Path, Perkins Gilman, Virginia Woof and others titled “Last Words”.

The photos received an abundance of backlash due to the sensitivity and nature of the photos, the fact that these woman who ended their lives are being used to model fashion. Or how the models in the photos could take a job knowing the nature of the photos.

VICE has recently removed the photos and spread from their website with an apology, but it got me really thinking about this topic of fashion utilizing certain aspects in life and glorify them into selling a brand or a look.

If your familiar with VICE, they are always right on the edge of offensive or shocking, and I won’t lie there have been moments where I did have the occasional jaw drop from their work but that’s the one thing I like about VICE, they don’t sugar coat things.

When I heard about “Last Words” I was very intrigued to see the whole spread but it was taken down before I had the chance to see it. I was relaying on the photos I saw on buzzfeed and a few other outlets. The photos I did find were shocking but I wasn’t shocked in the way people were shocked. The very first shot I saw was from the top of a building looking down to a courtyard where you see the shape of the body of a woman lying as though she had just jumped from the window.

When I first saw the photo I wanted to look away, I wanted to know more I wanted to know who she was, what she did, what happened in her life that she chose to jump out this window, what was going on her mind. Did she feel the same way I felt when I sat in a tub contemplating what to do next.

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{“Last Words” Vice Magazine 2013}

As a person who is dealing with mental health issues, depression and very many times contemplated suicide I thought I might be upset or disgusted but I wasn’t. The photos were powerful and heartbreaking. The fashion was not taking center stage and the focus was more on the women than the fashion.

From an artistic approach I think these photos are incredibly compelling and I really do give them a virtual high-five for taking the risk.

Some sites felt that it added more sadness because one of the writers who had killed herself was back in 2004 and it just maybe brought back those emotions of the first day they had heard she had died. Do you think it was an insensitive thing to do?

The photos make me sad, the photos break my heart, they make me angry. They make me look at my life and really strive to get the help I need. I don’t want to end my life.

Have you seen the spread for “Last Words”? what was thoughts on the photos? I am really curious to read others thoughts on the topic.

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