Now is the time of year when the well-heeled jet-setters of the world, finally exhausted of being exhausted after the whirl of the holidays, pack their bags and set off for their annual lavish skiing holidays in Gstaad, Klosters, Verbier, and…Tehran? Ex-squeeze me? No, you’re reading right. According to Vogue, Tehran is the next big thing. It could even be (gasp) the next Aspen, if Colorado were to unexpectedly pass a law declaring all female skiiers must be accompanied on the slopes by a male family member to safeguard her morals and remind her that the sense of freedom one experiences on a particularly good downhill run is nothing but a cruel illusion. One simply doesn’t go off-piste in the Islamic Republic.
This tidbit, naturally, is left out of the Vogue piece, written in its typically knowing yet breathless house style. It’s tempting, of course, to chalk up these omissions—and possibly, the editorial judgment behind publishing a piece extolling the virtues of a place a large portions of Vogue’s readership is a) unable to fly to commercially b) would not be admitted even if they could somehow reach it and c) has been under sanctions for the better part of the past 30 years due to its horrific repression of dissent, human rights violations, and totalitarian regime—to the magazine’s typically fluffy treatment of global issues (remember that Asma al-Assad profile, anyone?).
But in this day and age, when more and more of the globe seems like a no-go zone, there’s something touching, and almost brave, about Vogue’s unperturbed insistence that the wide world is a sort of infinite five-star resort, full of fabulous places to visit and wonderful things to buy, if one has only the money, the taste, and the general savoir-faire. In the Voguian worldview, Iran is still the fantastic, emerald-studded Land of the Peacock Throne; Afghanistan a place of fragrant bazaars where one can buy bolts of embroidered silk and incredible hand-woven rugs; Pakistan a procession of sparkling pleasure palaces where Jackie Kennedy once strolled down a walkway paved with pearls. One enormous, opulent shopping mall, where beauty and wealth are the only things that matter. In the words of Tennessee Williams: “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”