In 2008, fashion designer Anand Jon was convicted on one count of rape, and 15 counts of sexual assault on girls as young as 14. He was sentenced to 59 years in prison on Rikers Island and is still awaiting trial in New York on similar charges.
“Violation” is definitely a word we would attach to his crimes. But we certainly wouldn’t call them “fashion violations.”
And yet, in W‘s November issue, as a part of the magazine’s 40th anniversary collectors’ edition, a blurb looking back on the designer’s criminal history appears below that very headline. We might have glanced over it, however, were it not for Tara Kipnees, one of Jon’s rape victims, who wrote a piece for Salon with the should-be-obvious headline “Rape Is Not A ‘Fashion Violation’”.
Kipnees composedly explains why this kind of flippancy is not only offensive, but indicative of a broader problem the media has when discussing violent crimes perpetrated by celebrities (A-list or otherwise). She astutely observes that “when such media fascination is involved, victims become barnacles attached to a once-magnificent sinking ship. The more barnacles, the more sensational the wrongdoing, the more people gawk.” And sometimes, it seems, that gawking leads to headlines lumping the crimes in with leggings-as-pants and visible panty lines.
We have reached out to W for comment and will update when we hear back.