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Who Is To Blame for Vogue's October Issue?

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The September Issue, R.J. Cutler's documentary about Vogue editor Anna Wintour has a lot in common with Martin Scorsese's Shine a Light about the Rolling Stones-and not just the Byronic visage of Wintour's "Keith Richards," creative director Grace Coddington.

It raises more questions than it answers.

Why does Wintour's shellacked, pageboy helmet bob-last seen on Monica Lewinsky in 1999 when she was doing penance-not disqualify her fashion oeuvre? And her little shrunken, osteoporosis blazers paired with A-line skirts? How about the sleeveless, abstract-floral print jersey dresses that look like, gulp, Butterick patterns when they made you take Home Ec? Am I missing something?

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How does the daughter of Evening Standard editor, Charles Wintour and sister of Guardian political editor Patrick Wintour become Queen of Better Shoes? Didn't she listen in class?

Why does Wintour's grownup daughter Bee Shaffer call her "Mommy" and does this portend another tell-all book in light of all its implies?

Why do top designers, artists, stylists and photographers want to work for a caprice-and-fiat-driven taskmistress who's never heard an idea she didn't like and dismisses their best work out of hand? Non-negotiably? Always? Can anybody say Codependents Anonymous?

And how, given Wintour's perfectionism in concept and execution of fashion spreads, the theme of The September Issue, did the "Natural High" fashion spread in the October 2008 issue... happen?

Of course everyone knows Wintour is fur's number one fan not just because it goes with her hair but because when challenged she goes Cruella de Vil.

And has she been challenged! In 1996 she was "served" a raccoon on her plate during a luncheon at the Four Seasons restaurant in New York by a woman who had found the carcass frozen in a trash heap outside a fur farm.

"I threw the raccoon and it landed right on her plate," the stealth waitperson said according to the Independent. "Its little beady eyes were staring up at her. She looked very shocked."

The next year, bloody paws were painted on the steps of Wintour's West Village townhouse and her nanny sued over the fumes from the paint remover, according to the Village Voice. And in 2005 she was pied at the Chanel couture show in Paris over her fur views.

So maybe it is the desire to not back down and always find an additional use for fur that informs the 12-page spread in the October 2008 issue whose high concept is Women As Goats.

Yes, the woman who nixes six figure photographic shoots because the concept is too fuzzy or story unoriginal, assented to a photographic spread of models shot climbing up a mountain, one on top of each other, to resemble goats.

"Wild-haired and unruly-just like nature intended," says the spread's copy calling Mongolian goat, coyote, Tibetan lamb and fox the season's "furriest coats and jackets."

The furs were designed by the usual macabre tableau of Dior, Fendi, Nina Ricci, Marc Jacobs, Emilio Pucci, Vuitton, Chris Benz and Dolce & Gabbana. Elsewhere in the magazine are furs by Bally, Gucci, Oscar de la Renta and monkey fur loving Salvatore Ferragamo. And don't forget the gotta-have-'em psychedelic purses by Donna Karan, YSL and Michael Kors made of that humane and ecological material, python.

It is hard to image the rural herders who "supplied" the Mongolian goat and Tibetan lamb abiding by the fur industry's "Origin Assured" standards which say "The fur in this product comes from a country where national or local regulations or standards governing fur production are in force."

And it's also hard to image a woman in most major cities wearing such a Bo Peep look-"A markhor's grace; a lamb's magnificent fluff," extols the copy- even if fake.

Because, in addition to the cruelty, one of the reasons women increasingly reject fur is its ungainly inappropriateness for everything-including the mountains the model-goats climb. In page after page the models trip and stumble in their coats and platform shoes, holding their ostrich and crocodile clutches-hey, Vogue is consistent-like the ultimate kept bimbos. (There is not enough cocaine in the world to make this shoot work their faces seem to be saying.)

Selling fur by showing women helpless in it-and comparing wearers to the animals trapped, gassed and electrocuted-seems like a joke.

And maybe it is.

Strapped on one of the models' feet are Mary Janes by vegan fashion designer Stella McCartney, the copy says. It is doubtful she participated in the shoot.

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist and cartoonist, who writes about public health

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