Vogue Portugal apologises, pulls 'offensive' cover depicting 'archaic' mental health facility

Vogue Portugal Instagram account
"How could this go to publication?" commenters questioned. Photo credit: Instagram/Vogue Portugal.

Vogue Portugal has apologised and pulled an "offensive" magazine cover showing a woman in what appears to be a psychiatric facility for their 'Madness Issue'. 

The cover of the magazine's July/August issue depicted model Simona Kirchnerova huddled naked in a bathtub with two nurses bathing her, one of whom is pouring water on her head.

It sparked a backlash online after being posted to the magazine's social media pages, with people dubbing the outdated depiction of a mental health facitiliy "incredibly offensive". 

"This is unbelievably inappropriate on so many levels. How could this go to publication?" one person questioned. 

"This is offensive and upsetting," wrote another. 

"This kind of strange, archaic image of mental illness is deeply stigmatising," added another. 

Vogue Portugal released a statement on Instagram on Monday night saying it now realises the "the subject of mental health needs a more thoughtful approach".

"Vogue Portugal deeply apologises for any offence or upset caused by this photoshoot," the company says in the post, which shows the issue's new cover of a person holding a human heart.

"On such an important issue such as mental health we cannot be divided." 

London-based clinical psychologist Katerina Alexandraki told the BBC she considered the original cover to be "unethical".

"For those with experience of the psychiatric system, seeing a fashion magazine cover presenting a woman in such a vulnerable state can be a reminder of a very challenging time in their lives," she said.

"This image reinforces the idea of women being vulnerable and helpless during a mental health breakdown. It does not show us the effort those with mental health put in to overcoming their struggles, their strengths and resistance to overcome adversity," she added.

It's not the first time the high fashion brand has been forced to publicly apologise. Last year, Vogue came under fire for a "deranged" post on the official Instagram account linking the Manson Family mass murders with an emerging trend of '60s fashion.