Maybe Vogue should just stick to New York, Paris, London and Milan?
In a story published on Vogue.com Wednesday entitled: “Could Tehran (Yes, Tehran) Be the Next Aspen?, writer Laurence Cornet gives Westerners an inside look at the “stunning” ski resorts nestled in the “endless clusters” of the mountains of Iran.
Cornet writes whimsically of a pre-revolution Iran: “The northern and western mountains were equipped with chair and gondola lifts decades ago, the closest of which departs directly from the city, in the recreational area of Bame Tehran. The fiberglass egg carries passengers through forty-five minutes of spectacular views to Tochal, the highest of all the nearby resorts. As the gondola climbs upward, the hazy city gradually disappears from view and is replaced with the many peaks of the Alborz range, including the pyramid-shaped Mount Damavand, the highest volcano in Asia. (According to Zoroastrian mythology, Damavand is home to a three-headed dragon.)”
Although no one could fault Cornet for her florid descriptions, she forgot to mention a key point: The slopes she’s referring to are the very mountains that have been rumored to be a locus for missile production under former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Middle East commentator and Iranian dissident Alireza Jafarzadeh claimed in his 2008 book “The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis” that one of the regime’s “newest underground sites” for missile production was the Hormuz Tunnel located in the foothills of the Alborz Mountains.
Cornet didn’t completely overlook the drastic shift in culture since the days of the fiberglass egg, although she didn’t really mention it either.
“For now, the closer one gets to the mountains, the less one feels the grip of the regime. There are fewer representations of the supreme leaders, fewer beards, and more thick wool hats replacing veils,” she wrote. “But despite the relaxed atmosphere, authoritarian decrees still govern, as one is reminded by the first sentence of the instructions that come with a ski pass: ‘Clients are expected to behave according to the principles of the Islamic law.’”
Vogue did not respond to requests seeking comment, but this isn’t the first time the fashion title has veered into controversial territory when it comes to the Middle East.
In 2012, the magazine published a laudatory profile by Joan Juliet Buck on the first lady of Syria, Asma al-Assad. Although al-Assad was raised in the British system and has a Westernized upbringing, Vogue glossed over the fact that her husband, the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, was responsible for killing thousands of civilians.
Instead, Vogue called the couple “wildly democratic,” and praised Syria as the “safest country in the Middle East.” The Syrian civil war that has since decimated the country had already begun when the Vogue story was published.