Zelenska and Zelensky in Vogue

Olena Zelenska, the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has been featured in a cover story by fashion magazine Vogue. The pictures taken by star photographer Annie Leibovitz show Zelenska with her husband standing in front of soldiers and against a backdrop of destruction wreaked by the war. Europe's press discusses whether the piece struck the right tone.

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Público (ES) /

All-pervading pathological superficiality

In Público's view the photo spread was a total failure:

“There was no need to publish a report like the one in Vogue to illustrate the cognitive dissonance that prevails especially in Kyiv, 'where you can sip a matcha in a café and then drive an hour to Bucha to visit a mass grave'. ... Instead of focusing on sophisticated poses that border on bad taste, Leibovitz's talent could have been used to illustrate Zelenska's day-to-day life with the Ukrainian people. Instead the decision was taken to turn the horror into a catwalk. ... This journalism is not the disease, it is only a symptom of the pathological superficiality that attempts to pervade everything.”

El Mundo (ES) /

A gesture of rebellion by Ukrainian women

Columnist Iñaki Ellakuría praises the inner strength and intelligence exuded by Olena Zelenska in El Mundo:

“The latest barrage of criticism is directed against the first lady, Olena Zelenska, [accused of trivialising the war]. It prompted me to read the interview and discover that it is a good piece of journalism in which Zelenska describes in crude detail the dramatic situation in Ukraine and intensifies the diplomatic campaign with which the country wants to prevent the West from reducing its support. ... But above all thanks to Annie Leibovitz's magnificent photographs, it symbolises a powerful gesture of revolt by Ukrainian women against those who want to silence, rape and kill them. ... Screw you, Putin!”

Polityka (PL) /

Ukraine already very much part of the West

The debate about the photo shoot shows that Western standards are clearly being applied in the case of Ukraine, Polityka points out:

“Apparently, some Western commentators can't bear the idea of a photo like this appearing in a fashion magazine during a war. ... But by stepping out of line like this Ukraine has shown that it is part of the Western world. ... Ukraine shapes its own narrative, it doesn't see Vogue as something foreign but rather as a magazine that has its own (incidentally very interesting) Ukrainian edition. It draws on elements of Western media culture because it is part of that culture. And the messages it contains only confirm this.”