My Thoughts – Vogue Italia’s ‘Haute Mess’ Is a Hot Mess, Back To The Drawing Board!!


Ok, I was basically relaxing on a luscious Thursday, no BLOGGING, no work,…nothing. Suddenly, in the middle of my silliness with my fabulous Facebook family, my cell phone is ringing off the hook. After a series of concerned calls, I simply disregard the conversations as overly caffeinated fashion insiders, that had nothing to do but drag me into some type of drama. This morning, after a series of emails, a link in my in-box directed me an editorial  that definitely got my attention .”Haute Mess” is definitely one way to describe Vogue Italia’s fashion editorial. We’d liken it to “Hood Couture” or totally-tacky-attire. But some are questioning if the over-the-top feature is racist.

The story, shot by Steven Meisel, (I am not surprised,but this is the SAME man that shot me when I modeled years ago and said I could benefit from a series of minor plastic surgery procedures to become the “perfect black male model”),  is definitely eye-catching with a team of top models (including March’s cover girl Joan Smalls) decked out in over-the-top ensembles, crazy weaves, extra long fingernails (and toenails), and other “ghetto fabulous” additions.

With that said, the images are clearly projecting some, er, touchy racial stereotypes.

This is what Vibe had to say about the matter:

“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 Italiafailed miserably at achieving these goals.”

I  love Franca Sozzani, Vogue Italia’s editor-in-chief, for supporting diversity within the fashion industry– so it’s hard to believe that there was any ill intent when producing the story.

Sozzani counts the “Black Issue” as her proudest career accomplishment, launched the websiteVogue Black and has spent time in Africa mentoring aspiring fashion designers. I haven’t forgotten the “slave earrings” incident, but she promptly apologized and amended the gaff.

My personal opinion is this, and I only have one statement. Poorly executed editorial they would have done better hiring my fav shuttebug David Lachapelle. Lachapelle has a quick eye, and genius for photographic wit and humor. This editorial should have came off very ‘tongue in cheek’, but with spotlight on designer items. I would have envisioned a editorial theme of ‘Alice in Wonderland  meets Compton’ , satirical fantasy and beauty-meeting the grit of urban based life styles. Instead we have a editorial that basically has no idea what to do with the subject matter. The photographs seem cheap and deliriously lazy in conceptualization. Thats it,….I am going to step down of my soap box. I don’t think the editorial had anything to do with racism, but more to do with innate arrogance. When one knows nothing of a culture, hire people that do,the end result will be an AUTHENTIC view into their lives, not a cheap hack just to stimulate  ‘champagne and caviar’ conversation. I remember when I was young, my nana made this comment to a young lady, and it stuck with me. ” You cant appreciate anything or anyone , while looking down your nose at them”. This particular editorial makes this point so eloquently.

See editorial here


About Seaki Fashion Designer / Illustrator

Seaki Nelson is owner and founder of Seaki Creative Services, a freelance design company based out of NYC. With over 19 years in the international fashion community, Seaki is a fashion industry veteran, working with companies such as , such as Calvin Klien, Baby Phat,Phat Farm,Sean John,Marithe Francious Girbaud, Tommy Hilfiger to name a few. His enormous product design talent, and eye for detail and trend-spotting has garnered Seaki a dedicated following of some of the world's most powerful fashion industry professionals. Thank you for your support Thank You :)

One response »

  1. Well they certainly did come for the ghetto fabulous in that editorial. I know Black Americans that grew up in rural areas that don’t understand or appreciate inner city fashion. At the same time I’ve seen Italian & Hispanic Americans that dress equally ghetto fabulous as Black Americans. So its not strictly a racial issue. Ppl like what they iike. Some ppl may be offended by it. Others may say that its an accurate depiction of what’s really happening. If ppl don’t like what they see maybe they should rethink their fashion choices? If the ghetto fabulous wanted to be mainstreamed this is it. And it IS in Vogue after all.

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