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March 12th, 2012 Posted by Janelle comments (36)

Vogue Italia has never shied from controversy and its March cover story has people talking left and right. From The Huffington Post, to Jezebel debate is raging over whether or not the story is in poor taste, misguided and/or exploiting negative stereotypes about blacks and Latinos. On the Vogue Italia website, the inspiration for the story is listed asmessy drags: untidy, dishevelled, counter-intuitive cross-dressers.” Meanwhile Jezebel’s intrepid Jenna Sauers, found direct links between the hair styles featured in the editorial and the gallery of Ghetto Fabulous Edible Hair dos. We can’t help but wonder what the originators of those colorful, candy-inspired styles think of the VI story and its intentions.

Controversy aside, the Steven Meisel cover of Joan Smalls marks the first time a black model has been on the cover of VI since the infamous Black Issue, which makes another triumph for Joan. Getting a VI cover is always a coup for a model, but considering how rare it is to see a woman of color fronting the world’s most influential fashion mag, this is kind of a big deal. Perhaps the greater controversy is the fact that there are multi-year periods where we just don’t see  people of color on the covers of our fashion mags.

Styling: Lori Goldstein  | Makeup: Pat McGrath |  Hair: Jimmy Paul | Models: Abbey Lee Kershaw, Coco Rocha, Guinevere Van Seenus, Jessica Stam, Karen Elson, Lindsey Wixson, and Daphne Groeneveld


See the full Haute Mess story on Vogue.It

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36 Comments

  1. Marija says:

    Looooove Abbey, always <3

  2. Pooky says:

    Worst Italian Vogue EVER.. Take a load of beautiful models and make them all look like amateurs

    *doesn’t buy the issue*

  3. Snowball says:

    All of the people who worked on this story should have known better!!

  4. Avon says:

    I really appreciate Joan’s performance in the editorials, but her presence seems not striking enough to be the on cover……Still an interesting theme though.

  5. DavidD says:

    y
    i
    k
    e
    s

  6. jake says:

    i disagree, i think joan looks incredible on the cover and is exuding intensity. regardless of certain stereotypes this cover/editorial is arguably perpetuating, it is still great to have a moderl of colour on the cover. i also dont think the editorial should be taken too seriously, they have taken an idea and inspiration and exaggerated it into a more extreme version, which is what happens in fashion on a daily basis. althought i do agree with the sentiment that the editorial is not aesthetically pleasing, but then again, im pretty sure this was not the intention.

  7. Peter says:

    I was at the magazine store with my boyfriend he’s black, Im white. I first thought wow Black girl on the cover of VI and its Joan whom we both love. He rolled his eyes and said of course they would put her on looking like that. There in lies the problem. As races we see things differently. There needs to be more black and Latino voices in fashion period. Then we won’t have silly stories like this, or Grace Jones inspired stories or black girls in animal prints.

  8. Luis When says:

    Atrocious, just atrocious – tacky and irresponsible..

  9. Richard Michael Et. Villalvazo says:

    Looks like and AD for Ghetto Red Hot!

  10. miguel says:

    Carnival has already passed.

  11. mv says:

    The only reason Joan small is widely accepted is because she has western features. The industry still prefer white girls dipped in chocolate instead of girls like Ajek Deng.

  12. Not on the guest list says:

    I think the problem with the latino stereotype is the stereotype itself. I’m chilean but the cover didn’t offend me because the stereotype which is portray on the cover is the typical american stereotype;Carmen Miranda with more colors and saying every three words “arriba, arriba, fiesta, burrito!!” So the problem is that people don’t see that
    different countries = diiferent cultures, it’s like saying that Russia is the same as Spain. In the fashion sense I think the editorial is really cool, I mean it’s Vogue Italia, they go beyond pretty pictures

  13. jojo says:

    I think it’s amazing, Steven always breaks rules. After all, why take fashion so seriously? Been seeing too many pretty boring pictures. Styling is genius!

  14. Timmy says:

    People will never be happy with the role of black women in the modeling industry…if they’re black (such as Joan or Chanel Iman) they’re not black enough. Get over it and be happy that the editorial modeling field stands for diversity in the first place, and champions unconventional beauty. I think its wonderful that models like Liu Wen, Shu Pei, Fei Fei Sun, Ming Xi, etc are really finding a niche. You don’t hear anyone complaining about their role. I think this spread is fun, and 3 of my absolute favorite models (Abbey, Stam and Daphne) are truly amazing to behold.

  15. ff says:

    I sincerely don’t understand why the controversy, I will be honest I didn’t like it too just as I haven’t liked a lot of editorials, but personally this is not that bad, the maked-up work is magnificent, I loved the casting, and for me this is way better than the issue feauturing Stella Tenant in a scary, disturbing corset, and this is not the half as vulgar as the editorials of Terry Richardson in Purple. We just have to accept that this is Vogue Italia, and you’ll never be sure if you either love or hate it.

    OH SO COCO!!! she is gorgeus

  16. dreamsoflenny says:

    So proud of Joan. She has worked very hard and she has earned this. Remember now, she came from doing commercial work to this. I love it!

  17. Ferret says:

    Really glad that Joan is on the cover, but I hated the direction Meisel went for this issue.

  18. buda says:

    haha this is somehow fun to look ;) people CHIIIILLL!!! as if this is something bad or you never saw this girls doing better(standard fashion)

  19. brucegisele says:

    im very proud of MS. JOAN”ANYTHING BUT” SMALLS RODRIGUEZ…..BUT WHEN YOU THINK OF JOAN N SEE HER …YOU, THINK 90′S SUPERMODEL WITH BIG HAIRS, ACTION , OR PRETENTIOUS FIERCE SUPERMODEL….. SOMEONE IN THE EDITORING DEPT WERE ARGUING CAUSE THIS PIC OF WAS HER , SHOULD VEEN HER FIRST VOGUE COVER! BUT JOAN WILL PREVAIL WITH A ANOTHER VOGUE COVER.

  20. GP says:

    Is fun, and great casting. Only IV can get away with this so over the top fashion. Or maybe Vogue Japan can….

  21. futuresmine says:

    wow i just took some time to read through all of these comments.

    first of all, joan you are and look amazing! congratulations!

    second, i think people are reading to much into this editorial. art imitates life. they merely took inspiration from something that exists in reality. not a big deal…happens all the time. lets not misinterpret the story being relayed.

    this is only the first of many covers of joan to come. i look forward to seeing more…maybe less costumed covers, but more like her Last Magazine cover. she’s the sweetest girl and instead of knocking her down the industry should support such a young star who represents black and latino culture…meanwhile she goes beyond her race and had close friendships with arizona, abbey, karmen, karlie, liu wen, etc.

  22. Harlow says:

    I love it! It’s awesome. GhettoFabulous! Some women really look like this in ‘ real life ‘ and I find it creative.

  23. Oz Wilson says:

    Okay, so I’m a black photographer and I like it. I think people are being overly sensitive about this. How can we get so upset at this yet we, our hip hop artist, still call each other and refer to ourselves as the N word! Regardless to the explanation we give to justify using it. Just my opinion!

  24. Lulu lovefiend says:

    I’m late as usual. I’ve read the comments and have some opinions. First of all, congrats to miss Smalls, she made a cover that would have been tacky as hell look like a makeup ad. I have a problem with her in that she never emotes but i’m still hoping she will up her game. Stop coasting on your looks and WORK IT, thats what makes a super. I am dissapointed at meisel for giving a black model the cover ON THE DAMN GHETTO ISSUE. That was stupid. This foolishness of pitting black models against each other needs to stop. Those arguing that Ajak et al are more authentic forget that they too aren’t a true representative african beauty, just sudanese (trust me, i’m Kenyan and we have all types.) Lastly, i’m offended that there is no other ethnic model apart from Joan in that shoot. It stinks of tokenism. Henrieth did well this season too, Mr Meisel. Lakshmi and Charlene could use the VI hype more than half of those white girls. Whatever, the whole mag is overrated anyway. At this point I’d radher buy american vogue

  25. Chris Petersen says:

    Woman of color? If anyone should be called colored it's us white people. We are the whole box of crayons. Joan is hot, cover looks amazing!

  26. modellobello says:

    I LOVE JOAN, I HATE THIS COVER. WHAT HAPPENED TO MEISEL’S GLAMOUR. I LOVE HIS WORK FOR AMERICAN VOGUE THE MOST SINCE THEIR MAGICAL AND JUST BEAUTIFUL. THIS ONE RIGHT HER HAS AMAZING MODELS IN HIDEOUS ATTIRES AND FACE PAINT!!:((

  27. Vladislava Iakovenko says:

    Looks like travesty , vulgar

  28. carolS says:

    I THINK JOAN LOOKS FANTASTIC ON THE COVER DESPITE THE MAKE-UP AND STYLING. I WISH THERE WERE MORE PICS OF JOAN INSIDE. EITHER WAY, I’M A FAN OF JOAN.

  29. Sam Dauphin says:

    fashion will always be racist regardless…i’d love to see jourdan on the cover of italian vogue

  30. Prince Kaleo says:

    Beautiful!

  31. Pierre Cortes says:

    WWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! BRAVO LORI PAT JIMMY AND OF COURSE Mr MEISEL.

  32. missy says:

    im bored of Joan… But im in two minds about the story + cover! I like the transgression, its supposed to be provoking.

  33. XOXO says:

    SO deserving Joan! Such a ball of fun backstage and at shoots. This is what a professional model should represent.

  34. Marty says:

    I really think people are bored with Joan is because she a commercial model, she really does deserve the VI cover she looks amazing. JOAN is very commercial to me, her face is to gorgeous she doesn’t have that edge to here like other’s she REALLY has to stand out to get noticed

  35. Carlos Sanchez Damian says:

    En efecto, es un reportaje sobre travestis disfrazados de pirujas baratas. El morbo y la vulgaridad venden más revistas.

  36. Riccardo Arnaldi says:

    I can’t understand why people get so “shocked” from Vogue Italia. Surely it’s not Glamour, with boring and unuseful editorials, but it isn’t even Vogue USA that only puts on the cover celebrities in really common and glossy pictures. I don’t think that Vogue Italia is something so strange or so avant-garde. Reading what American people think about it makes me feel like a cutting-edge genius (and I really am not that). I don’t know what’s “scary” about Stella Tennant on the Sept. 2011 cover. My first reaction has been “I don’t know what’s so much avant-garde”. And so for this: what is so offensive? What is so “bad-taste”? The styling is amazing, ’cause it presents lots of clothes mixed and matched in a bit “trash” mess. You have to understand Fashion, trash, mixing and matching. Then: what’s the argue about the “racism” of the mag? I just want to tell you that Franca Sozzani has been subscribed to the Italian Communist Party for years and she even leart russian. So I really don’t think that she would ever do something racist. You can think it how you want, but I tell you: in Italy nobody even knew about the American discussion that was born. Everyone liked it, all the people that bought the issue liked it very much and nobody had the big problems you had. I’m Italian and I know very well what I’m saying. The sad thing is that in Italy also stupid people apreciate Meisel’s editorials, while in America even people that seem quite intelligent didn’t understand it… I’m really not racist, and I’m not saying that American people are stupid, but it’s a fact that they never understood so well Franca.

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