After a 40 year relationship with Vogue, Joan Juliet Buck--former Vogue Paris editor and the author of that much-maligned profile of Asma al-Assad--has quietly parted ways with the magazine. It's not a new development. Apparently Buck hasn't appeared on Vogue's masthead since February of this year, which is right about the time she started to become more vocal and outspoken about the Syrian regime--and about the qualifications one needs to land a Vogue profile ( like being "extremely thin and very well-dressed.") WWD, in a rather uncharacteristically snarky article, reached out to Vogue for comment about the reasons behind the split and was told by a spokesperson that Buck's contract was up, "simple as that."
I think that Vogue is always on the lookout for good-looking first ladies because they're a combination of power and beauty and elegance...That's what
As fighting escalates in Syria and news of more atrocities--like using children as human shields--in the region accumulates, Anna Wintour is finally speaking out about that March 2011 Vogue feature on Syrian's first lady, Asma al-Assad. Al-Assad is the wife of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and was the subject of a fawning profile penned by Joan Juliet Buck, titled "A Rose in the Desert.” This weekend the New York Times took a look at how the al-Assads essentially hoodwinked the western media--via paid PR companies--to get favorable coverage. The Vogue piece, which the powers-that-be subsequently removed from Vogue.com in the wake of criticism, was one of the more cringe-inducing examples. Soon after the article was published, Buck, the author (and the former EIC of French Vogue before Carine Roitfeld), started making the rounds to "speak out against the Assad regime." But how on earth did al-Assad get that whopping 3,200 word feature in the first place?
Back in February, Vogue took a lot of crap for publishing a puffy swoony profile of Syria's first lady, Asma al-Assad. And rightly so--the gushy piece by Joan Juliet Buck, "Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert," which ran in Vogue's March issue, ignored Syria's abysmal human rights record and that al-Assad's husband, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, is, to quote the Atlantic's Max Fisher, "an anti-American autocrat." Shortly after the piece was published, Fisher got in touch with Vogue senior editor Chris Knutsen, the story's editor, to get his rationale for the profile that painted Syria in such a glowing light. (Buck described Asma al-Assad as "glamorous, young, and very chic--the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies," and said of her husband that he is "a precise man who takes photographs and talks lovingly about his first computer.") At the time, Knutsen stood by Buck's story and Vogue's decision to publish it, saying "We felt that a personal interview with Syria's first lady would hold strong interest for our readers...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 good luck trying to find that story on Vogue.com today (you get this lovely image and error message instead).