In Vogue, Jan 2017
This is the second time the Linguini spotted a vegan item in Vogue (the other being a vegetarian eaterie in London, written about as a vegan establishment).
The article starts off with a myth buster:
“If you think vegan beauty is reserved for the granola-munching and the barefoot, you’re sorely mistaken.”
Whether veganism still suffers from a residual hippie image, it is definitely undergoing a makeover, and Vogue does not want to be lagging behind. Linguistically and semiotically, this first sentence frames or anchors, as Barthes (in Cameron and Panovic, 2014) suggests, the photo and works hard to invite the readers. This structure presupposes the audience may be reticent to all things vegan and could have preconceived ideas of who is the primary consumer of vegan cosmetic products (which could be the reason why Lush is not advertised here).
Following the Visual Systemic Functional Linguistic analysis, the photo is a conceptual representation of a social reality in which desirable young, white, women ‘doing‘ a certain kind of femininity are the target audience for expensive, ‘high-end’, make-up. The model in the photo is a carrier of these symbolic meanings. The relationship that is enacted between the sender of the message and the recipient in the photo is that of ‘demand’, which is the non-linguistic semiotic equivalent of the pronoun ‘you’. The viewer is a direct addressee whose attention is being demanded. However, the model’s gaze is neither tempting nor warm but at the same time not particularly uninviting, especially considering her slightly parsed lips. The perspective and angle of this photo is shot close-up, creating intimacy. Additionally, because the photo was taken from below, it gives off a sense of the model as powerful.
In terms of contextualisation, the model is wearing a collar and the reader can glimpse parts of her attire, which could be said is fashionable, further adding to the effort to render vegan cosmetics fashionable and ‘high-end’. The page itself is a standard Vogue beauty layout with sample pictures of beauty products at the top, giving the essential information about potential purchases, while the concrete information (i.e., the text) is at the bottom of the page. The dominant colours are fuchsia and purple, with a funky looking make-up brush, appealing perhaps to a young audience.
Linking the image back to the text, we then follow on to the next sentence:
“There are myriad makers giving cruelty-free cosmetics some serious bite, with colours and formulas as bold as their beliefs.” (My underlining)
The author clearly demarcates Vogue’s stance: Creators of vegan (beauty) products believe in bold notions. Is it the right word to apply to those who avoid causing unnecessary suffering to non-human animals?
The author is willing to remove any content that may infringe on copyrights