BUSTED: Vanity Fair


It took us a while to get around to reading the new Vanity Fair — its spoofily-covered April comedy issue. But we finally did this weekend.

And wisely so.

Among the many engrossing features was Vicky Ward’s piece “Greenwich Mean Time” — which charts the spectacular wealth and new-found shame that has befallen the family of Madoff-insiders Walter and Monica Noel.

In the lengthy story we learn about Walter, Monica and their five fair-haired daughters (above) — who along with their money-men hubbies managed to raise the ire (and eyebrows) of society types from Greenwich to Palm Beach to South Hampton and Mustique.

Brazilian-born Monica was derided for her over-exuberence and inappropriate sense of familiarity. The daughters for their clannishness, outre outfits and shady-dealing spouses. And Walter for managing his Fairfield Greenwich Group — a $14 billion “feeder” fund for Madoff — without ever catching wind of the massive swindle taking place literally under his nose. From continent to continent, the Noels were painted as intrusive, aggressive and over-the-top when they needed to be under-the-radar.

Filled with tales of shameless social climbing and the Noels’ newly-attained social pariah status, the piece — complete with Greenwich-perfect Bruce Weber photos of the Noels en famille — felt snarky, snippety and downright salacious. Yum!

Yet we felt like we’d heard it all before.

That’s because we had — seven years ago in Vanity Fair itself!

Rewind to 2002 and VF has written a very different profile of the Noel family — the Kristina Stewart-penned feature “Golden in Greenwich”. Same family. Same location. Same Bruce Weber shots.

Back then, the Noels were praised as quasi-aristocratic — “picture perfect…well dressed, well educated (Harvard, Yale, Brown, Georgetown), and well married, they are raising a compoundful of well-behaved children.”

Their mother’s Brazilianess — which VF now describes as overwhelming — was deemed warm-hearted. The Noel girls themselves — vulgar in VF 2009 — as “perfect” by Waspy Greenwich neighbors. And their multi-national husbands — many today derided by VF as less-than-honorable — polyglot princes for the Noel princesses. The family combined, Stewart writes, has “not a divorce or scandale among them.”


Sure, Vanity Fair needs to keep on the pulse — and its own pulse pounding — with of-the-moment exposes of the currently rich and infamous. But for VF to write a feature dissing the Noels today without even acknowledging their OWN family fawning just a few years ago is both churlish and kinda lame. And to do so recycling the same family portraits is downright offensive — and an insult to the intelligence of VF’s own readers.

Making a literary-180 is cool — especially in these trying times. Trying to do it on the DL, however, is sneaky and simply reeks of laziness.

Come on VF — surely you can do better.


2 Responses to “BUSTED: Vanity Fair”

  1. nice catch transracial. I bet not many would have picked up on this discrepancy….

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