The homeless Vogue reader

A posh fashion editor got a predictable reaction when she posted an Instagram photo of a homeless person. But what happened next?

Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis is an editor at Vogue magazine. She's also of royal lineage, isn't short of a bit of cash, and shares snaps of her predictably jet-setting lifestyle with nearly 15,000 followers on Instagram. In Paris for the city's fashion week, she posted the above photo of a homeless person reading Vogue.

"Paris is full of surprises . . . and @voguemagazine readers even in unexpected corners!" she commented underneath.

The reaction was swift and unsurprising. One fashion blog shouted "tasteless" and called the German princess "out of touch" while some labelled the picture "cruel" - others chimed in with much worse abuse. Von Thurn und Taxis initially defended herself, commenting: "Why Cruel? The person to me is as dignified as anyone else!" But she eventually relented and took the picture down.

Usually that's where these kinds of stories end: a social media misstep, a well-covered backlash, and finally a cowering apology: "I wanted to extend my sincerest apologies for the offense my post has caused," von Thurn und Taxis commented next to a much less controversial picture of a bridge. 

But then something interesting happened - amidst the threats and name-calling, she attracted a groundswell of support on her Instagram account.

"She's not making fun of anyone. Be positive. She found beauty in the woman reading Vogue," said user laumisteriosa. Another Instagrammer, hkfam5, commented: "Homelessness is all of our reality! Whether or not we wish to address or see it. The truth is the fashion world lives in a fantasy. ... thank you for showing people the realness, regardless if it was intentional or not."

"Enough abuse to a fellow human being," said truepilatesabudhabi. "She engaged, she shared, and she's apologised to those who felt offended. What more?"

As for von Thurn und Taxis's original motivation for posting the photo - well, we've asked her for comment (and for some sorely needed fashion tips), but she's yet to get back to us.