At first I was shocked and repulsed at hearing about this fashion spread. What a bunch of twisted, shallow, materialistic... you get the idea.
But the more I think about it, the more I think that the move was a provocative way to bring attention to wealth disparities in this world. Obviously this was not Vogue's intention judging from the responses of its editor in that New York Times article. Yet, if those designer goods were instead held up by high-end fashion models, it would not change the fact that there are people who live in poverty in this world. It would just make it easier to ignore.
The fact that the wealth disparities were displayed so intimately in the spread is something new for us. Wealth and poverty are so intertwined, it makes sense that they should be photographed together. Would things be any different if they got separate spreads?