“Miss Hepburn,” I said, “You will never be in Vogue.”
Miss Hepburn did not care. She hasn’t cared much about Vogue since the March 2011 issue of the magazine, which featured a disgusting puff piece on Asma al-Assad, the Louboutin-shod first lady of Syria and the wife of dictator Bashar al-Assad. It gushed:
“Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic — the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies. Her style is not the couture-and-bling dazzle of Middle Eastern power but a deliberate lack of adornment. She’s a rare combination: a thin, long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind who dresses with cunning understatement. Paris Match calls her ‘the element of light in a country full of shadow zones.’ She is the first lady of Syria.”
Miss Hepburn curled her nose in disgust.
“The first impression of Asma al-Assad is movement — a determined swath cut through space with a flash of red soles. Dark-brown eyes, wavy, chin-length brown hair, long neck, an energetic grace. No watch, no jewelry apart from Chanel agates around her neck, not even a wedding ring, but fingernails lacquered a dark blue-green. She’s breezy, conspiratorial, and fun. Her accent is English but not plummy. Despite what must be a killer IQ, she sometimes uses urban shorthand: “I was, like. . .”
As for her husband, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Vogue wrote that he was elected president in 2000 with “a startling 97 percent of the vote.” He is a “tall, long-necked, blue-eyed” man who “takes photographs and talks lovingly about his first computer.”
The article came out in late February and the atrocities in Syria began to pile up. The torture-murder of the 13-year-old boy. The 300 dead and thousands of jailed demonstrators. The 10,000 refugees huddled at the Turkish border.
Despite those events, Vogue Senior Editor Chris Knutsen staunchly defended the piece. The Atlantic quoted him as saying, “The piece was not meant in any way to be a referendum on the al-Assad regime. It was a profile of the first lady.”
But then, in case you missed it, Vogue took the piece off the Internet.
As Wall Street Journal writers Bari Weiss and David Feith quipped, “Apparently Vogue missed the trend: Dictators are out this season.”
That’s why my dog, the ever-stylish Miss Audrey Hepburn, does not subscribe to Vogue.
ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.