The report of Fashion about Olena Zelenska with the photos by Annie Leibovitz it has even given pro-Ukrainian opinion makers a toothache, who have walked with their moral uneasiness and muttered “not so”. This is no time for frivolity, they say. Preachers, who appear to be cashing in on Putin’s reptilian fund, rejoiced when the cover of fashion magazine would feature Emperor Zelensky’s nudity. The more I read one or the other, the more I like the portraits Fashiona manifestation of coherence and bravery, as the headline of the profile of the First Lady of Ukraine they illustrate says: “Portrait of bravery“.
The text could have been signed by Susan Sontag, who would have accompanied Leibovitz to Kyiv if she had been alive. The article – which no moralistic critic cites because he has not read it – is the work of Rachel Donadio, a great journalist from Paris, where she was a correspondent New York Times. His magnificent portrayal of Olena fulfills the most basic and noble purpose of journalism: trying to understand the complexities of the present and recognize its paradoxes. “It’s strange,” Donadio writes, “to mix Ukraine’s annihilation and Ukrainian fashion in the same conversation, but this is the country’s cognitive dissonance, where designers and professionals of all kinds are mobilized to help their nation.” This cognitive dissonance is most pronounced in Kyiv, where you can have a matcha in a cafe and then drive an hour to Bucha to visit a mass grave.”
The cover is Ukrainian propaganda, but also top-notch journalism. Another hard-to-digest paradox for those who have given up understanding the world because they bring it from home schematically, with very clear whites and blacks. Olena uses a Fashion for his cause and Fashion he uses olena for his. The symbiosis is typical of the plural, complex, open and democratic society that Vladimir Putin’s armies (and quite a few Western Fifth Columnists) seek to annihilate. Neither Annie Leibovitz’s camera, nor Zelenskyj’s photogenicity, nor Donadio’s prose can do anything against Russian bombs than to plant a glossy cover Fashion amidst the triumph of all those new priests who dream of locking us up in an orthodox monastery is a revenge. Our happy Athens may succumb to leaden Russian Sparta. Before that happens, let’s see if a world without portraits of Leibovitz and instead with statues of satraps is worth it.
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