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Två kreatörer – Aleksandra Marchenko, Kommunikations- och Branding-strateg på flykt från kriget i Ukraina, och Carin Roeraade, Creative Director på Sanders Agency. I den här bloggen får ni ta del av dagboksanteckningar och vårt pågående samtal. Genom flykt och sömnlösa nätter. Om stort, smått, allvarligt och lättsamt. Hur ser en dag ut när du är på flykt? Hur bygger man ett eget bombskydd och, framför allt, ett nytt liv i ett okänt land?

Publicerad 1 augusti 2022

Why Olena Zelenska needs to be on the Vogue cover: Ukrainian point of view 

Olena Zelenska in Vogue, photo Annie Leibovitz

Ukrainian social media as well as international media still cannot let it go: why Olena and Volodymyr Zelenskyi are posing for Vogue at the times of war that is not at all fashionable. The photoshoot provoked a tsunami of criticism with opponents highlighting that basically everything is wrong with the photoshoot. Here is a few points that make this story important for Ukraine now from a communications point of view.

1. Let’s think about the audience of American Vogue and other Vogues. No need to live in the illusion that every single one of them reads the news daily and follows the war on the other continent. Meanwhile, one of the biggest countries on the other continent is being destroyed town after town, field after field, plant after plant, family after family is being killed… And here Vogue also turns other people’s heads to what is happening in Ukraine. 

Olena Zelenska on the cover of Vogue, photo Annie Leibovitz

2. Language of fashion photography and story writing. In my humble opinion Annie Leibovitz’s photos along with the written story invites the reader to feel rather than think. People abroad often tell me they cannot understand what we, Ukrainians, are going through. The war cannot be understood rationally, and here Vogue’s figurative story explains it softer than shocking graphic content in the news. The text is written in a calm tone thus easier to consume. It still pictures the surrealistic reality of war that would be hard to live in for any human.   

Olena Zelenska in The Time, photo Alexander Chekmenev 

Olena Zelenska on Saturday by The Guardian, photo: Antoine D’Agata/Magnum 

3. Olena Zelenska’s “ordinary” pose. The Ukrainian first lady is pictured being clearly tired but holding it with grace. Unlike on the covers of other foreign media here she is sitting leaning on one’s hands. I would describe it as the posture of a woman in her own household who was working hard the whole day and sat down to exhale for a minute or two. She is exhausted but still has a lot of work to do. This pose goes against the protocol for the country’s first lady, yet is very real. To support Zelenska Ukrainian women started a flashmob in social media: under hashtag #sitlikeagirl they picture themselves in the same posture in order to show that a woman is free to sit as she wants and still remain a woman. 

I personally celebrated that the war in Ukraine was explained in the language of fashion photography. And also love the warm and humane tone of the text. It’s definitely not less powerful than a documentary. 

The story reaches multiple goals: put the war in Ukraine to the tables of new audiences, provoke a wave of publications analyzing the story that also sparks interest in what is happening in Ukraine, and shows that we all are humans after all. 

The last week when the world saw the digital version of this publication was especially difficult for Ukrainians. Russia continues barbarian missile attacks on civilians: Google Mykolaiv and Kharkiv. Despite the guarantees of the UN and Red Cross about 50 Mariupol defenders were executed in Olenivka, Donetsk oblast. It might seem like the First Lady on the cover of Vogue is not serious enough during the war. Only I support any form of storytelling if it helps people in other countries to turn their eyes to Ukraine and demand to send us more weapons and humanitarian aid to conquer the terror state. 



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