March 7 2011
The Devil's Wife Wears Christian Louboutin
I've already blogged on Vogue's glowing spread on that "freshest and most magnetic of first ladies," Syria's Asma al-Assad, wife of that country's brutal dictator ("Why Be a Mere Fashion Arbiter When You Can Be a Dictator?"). The story was so extraordinary that I was careful to make sure it wasn't an internet hoax before posting. What possessed Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, to do this?
Now Bari Weiss and David Feith over at the Wall Street Journal weigh in:
That's right. As Libyans braved fighter jets and machine-gun fire in their drive to overthrow the tyrant Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli, the queen of Condé Nast thought it was in good taste to feature the beautiful wife of Syria's Bashar al-Assad. Apparently Vogue missed the trend: Dictators are out this season.
The Assad family-first Hafez and now his son Bashar-has ruled Syria since 1970. In that time, they've killed 20,000 Syrians to put down an uprising in Hama, provoked civil war in Lebanon and then occupied the country to "keep peace," built a secret nuclear-weapons facility modeled on North Korea's, and established Damascus as a hub for terrorists from Hezbollah to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. All part of keeping their countrymen under foot for 40 years.
No matter. The only feet that seem to interest Vogue writer Joan Juliet Buck are the manicured toes of the first lady. Mrs. Assad reveals a "flash of red soles," we're told, as she darts about with "energetic grace."
The red soles are an allusion to the signature feature of Christian Louboutin designer heels-easily $700 a pair-that Mrs. Assad favors. (Mr. Louboutin, says Vogue, visits Damascus to buy silk brocade, and he owns an 11th-century palace in Aleppo.)
The piece was by Joan Juliette Buck, a prominent Vogue scribe, who enjoyed being ferried about by dictator-provided private drivers in "in a bubble of comfort and hospitality." The veteran fashion journalist reports that the dictator's wife is promoting "active citizenship:"
That's just what 18-year-old high-school student Tal al-Mallouhi did with her blog, but it didn't stop the Assad regime from arresting her in late 2009. Or from sentencing her, in a closed security court last month, to five years in prison for "espionage."
When not ordering deaths of unfortunate Syrians or elected officials in Lebanon, Bashar al-Assad is "just an ‘off-duty president in jeans-tall, long-necked, blue-eyed.' He ‘talks lovingly about his first computer,' Vogue records, and he says that he studied ophthalmology ‘because it's very precise, it's almost never an emergency, and there is very little blood.'"
Not so being a dictator.
The piece was shocking, but it is expressive of the worldview of those in fashion and Hollywood, those same naifs who come to Washington to testify before Congress and are rarely slow to lecture us on the moral failings of our society. They have no moral compass and are astonishingly ignorant. But they believe in their own superiority. They regard the rest of us as being in need of their tedious tutorials.
(Clueless George Clooney is my favorite example of somebody who believes in his own moral superiority. Newsweek recently hailed him as a "21st century statesmen" who uses his celebrity for good causes. The cover line: "Mr. Clooney, the President is on the line." You know what's so awful-the president probably was on the line.)