According to Condé Nast, all Russian publishing operations will be suspended
The March 2022 issue of Vogue Russia. Photo: Lea Colombo/Vogue
As Western fashion brands halted their businesses in Russia, what did the industry-anointed ‘fashion bible’ Vogue do? The response came on 9 March, 13 days after the ruthless attack on Ukraine by one villainous autocrat in the Kremlin. A terse message in Russian and English on Vogue Russia’s website, addressed to “dear readers”, states: “We are suspending all kind (sic) of broadcasts on our platforms until further notice.” In addition, “the April issue of Vogue Russia will not be published. All previously published pieces are still available on vogue.ru.” The pronouncement came in the middle of Paris Fashion Week. There is no explanation to their decision, no mention of the besieged country, no denouncement of war, even when at vogue.com, four days before the Russian edition’s online message, an intro accompanying the feature Images of the Week stated that “despite the glitz of Paris Fashion Week, the world’s eyes are still trained on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
But the note, signed off “with respect and love” by the “Vogue Russia team”, expresses firm optimism: “We hope that this is not a farewell letter but rather just a pause and soon we will be able to reunite with you” (no acknowledgement of the many displaced Ukrainians who are unable to reunite with their families and loved ones). According to the latest figures shared by Condé Nast, the Russian title enjoys 662K print readers (for comparison, the US edition has 9.1 million). Ad rate for a full page is €17,600 (for comparison, again, the US counterpart‘s asking price per full page has a “general rate” of US$191,361 or about €174,603). It is not clear if the “pause” of Vogue Russia and the deferred “reunion” will impact the group performance of Vogue itself, but based on the figures, it is possible that Condé Nast can afford the professional respite.
Screen grab of Vogue Russia’s message announcing their “pause”
In the said message to announce the magazine’s temporary suspension, the title claims that “all these years our mission was to cover not only fashion news and trends but also culture, art and social agenda.” In the intro of Vogue Russia’s online media kit, editor-in-chief Ksenia Solovieva, just a year into the job (she was former EIC of Tatler Russia), offers more: “we try to support the fashion industry, open up new talents, discuss the questions of sustained development and sex, are not afraid to touch upon politics…” But there is, at the moment, fear (did Vogue Russia’s team read their Ukrainian colleagues’ accounts of escaping the war in the online parent title’s How Vogue Ukraine Survived the First Days of War With Russia?).
Ms Solovieva’s and her editorial team now choose the safer bet, reticence. Perhaps, that is necessary (under the advice of her boss, Anna Wintour, although the latter is not averse to showing her political standing?) amid a looming Cold War 2.0—any voice of dissent in Russia today is especially strident. With dire warnings sent out by Russian prosecutors, “threatening to arrest corporate leaders there who criticize the government or to seize assets of companies that withdraw from the country,” as reported by The Wall Street Journal, silence is probably golden.