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Vogue Italia's 'Haute Mess' Editorial: Racist Or Not? The Debate Continues

Yesterday, Vogue Italia released their Haute Mess editorial in its entirety and we noticed a few people had taken to the internet to voice their opi
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Yesterday, Vogue Italia released their Haute Mess editorial in its entirety and we noticed a few people had taken to the internet to voice their opinions about it--in particular, whether or not it's racist.

In the Steven Meisel-lensed editorial (which you can see here), top models like Joan Smalls, Coco Rocha and Jessica Stam wear over-the-top, flashy ensembles (styled by Lori Goldstein) with crazy colorful weaves, heavily painted on makeup (Pat McGrath) and impractically long nails while parading through grocery stores and fast food chains. They look "ghetto fabulous" and seem to be depicting some distinctly American stereotypes. And, arguably, racial ones. The discussion has continued.

Fashin commenter dman90 thought the spread was too one-note:

This is beyond despicable, it's almost bordering on disgusting. Out of all of the "Haute Mess" archetypes to choose from they feature a single one, Ghetto. As white women they look absolutely ridiculous esp Daphne and Wixy. If I was black I would be offended and I usually don't give a damn about these kind of things. I believe that this is an insensitive parody of African American women. Franca misunderstanding the concept is one thing but Meisel is American, he should know better.

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Just_10 felt the issue was in the execution:

The concept itself isn't disturbing, it could have been an exquisite homage to the absolute confidence and creativity of those women. But the haphazard manner in which this was executed makes it read like "upper middle class white stereotype of how poor black women present themselves in public", which leads to a far different execution than if there was actual investigation into why these women present themselves in this way. The colors, the brands, the styles are all chosen for specific reasons, not this random hodgepodge of ghetto stereotypes Meisel presents to us here. And then the babies and references to single motherhood, and the malt liquor? LOL...

And someone from the Tumblr Rubyshimmer (which we found thanks to an anonymous tipster) posted this followed by the caption "Anyone who says they don't see why this is racist can kiss my black ass."

While Vogue Italia dedicated a blog post yesterday to explaining that Meisel's inspiration was "messy drag queens," we think they drew some more contemporary inspiration as well--specifically from websites like, which post anonymous photographs of people in Wal Mart and McDonald's with the intent of poking fun at them.

Click through for some side-by-side shots of looks from the Vogue Italia spread next to the images of what may have inspired them. What do you think?