Is The “Haute Mess” Editorial In Vogue Italia Racist?

Posted by Troy Monaco on Mar 7, 2012

Steven Meisel shot an editorial for the March issue of Vogue Italia called “Haute Mess” that can be argued as racist. The spread features popular models Joan Smalls, Jessica Stam, Karen Elson, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Lindsey Wixson, Daphne Groeneveld, Guinevere van Seenus and Coco Rocha dressed in colorful clothes, crazy up-do’s and weaves, extravagant nails and even wearing gold teeth.  Oddly enough restaurants and bathrooms were chosen as the background of the shoot.  Even more bazaar, one model is pregnant and the other models have infants with them [dolls of course].  Many are raising an eyebrow at the photos because the women seem to be projecting some stereotypes.  For example the hair styles of the models can be seen at almost every black hair show.  It is very clear that the theme of the shoot was “ghetto”, “ghetto fabulous” to be exact. However, in trying to achieve fabulous, it wandered in to ignorance.

I will give Vogue Italia the benefit of the doubt that it was not their intention to be racist or offend anyone, but let’s keep it real for a minute: How many white girls [or any other ethnic backgrounds for that matter] do you know that dress  or look like this?  Exactly.  Racist may be a little harsh of a word to describe this editorial , but it was definitely done in poor taste and judgement. Fashion is about being creative, pushing boundaries, and being expressive. Steven Meisel and Vogue Italia failed miserably at achieving these goals.  Instead of being creative, they simple took certain elements they’ve seen in a culture and tried to manipulate it into high fashion. There was nothing innovative or  impressive about this spread. The name says it all “Haute Mess“, that’s about all this was.


Check out the photos from the editorial:

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