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 as “messy 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.