Franca Sozzani Thinks Racism Is in the Eye of the Beholder

There’s been a lot of flack about the interwebs regarding Vogue Italia‘s “Haute Mess” editorial shot by Steven Meisel, styled by Lori Goldstein and starring Joan Smalls, Coco Rocha, Lindsey Wixson, Daphne Groeneveld, Jessica Stam, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Guinevere van Seenus and Karen Elson in all their ghetto fabulous glory. Some feel it’s racially insensitive, some think it classist, but Franca Sozzani thinks people just see what they want to see. And hopefully you see a lot of “messy drag queen.”

Franca Sozzani Thinks Racism Is in the Eye of the Beholder

The looks in “Haute Mess” certainly make a statement and that statement is hot tranny mess realness. Literally. In her always entertaining blog, Sozzani wrote that the spread might take its inspiration from messy drags: untidy, dishevelled, counter-intuitive cross-dressers.” And that’s inspiration you can take to the bank. The Cut caught up with Sozzani, who by this point is more than accustomed to courting controversy, to discuss the editorial.

In typical frank Franca fashion, she utterly dismissed it as a bit of hubub over nothing.

“We wanted to make something quite extravagant,” the editrix explained. “It’s more to push people to be creative and extravagant…we just thought it was the concept of extravagance, of creativity, even something over-the-top, something that is not usual. If you want, you don’t dress like that, you don’t put on this kind of makeup, but it’s just to make a fake, to go over-the-top, it makes you happy in a way, more alive, more colorful — sometimes fashion looks sad.”

As for the backlash, Sozzani openly doesn’t give a damn: “I think it’s good that everyone sees what they wanted to see. As you know, I don’t care as much what people think, because I think that every time that you try to change something, people [say something else]. I respect everybody’s opinion.”

Well, maybe not everyone’s opinion. When asked about people who found the images classist and offensive, Sozzani shut that down real quick: ”There are so many sick people around the world that you cannot — I don’t care about them. I care about normal people. They want to read and see the normal way as we did. If they are sick, it’s not my problem. I am not a psychologist. They should find somebody who could help them.”

While Sozzani doesn’t rank “Haute Mess”as one of her most controversial spreads, she insists that wasn’t what she was going for to begin with: “It’s not that I want it to be controversial all the time, it’s happened. … You can just take pictures like in a catalog so you will never be controversial, but that’s not my choice of life.”

You certainly can’t fault Franca Sozzani for sticking to her guns, but what do you think? Is “Haute Mess” offensive — whether intentional or not — or just over-the-top fun? Click through for the entire editorial and sound off in the comments below.

Photos: Design Scene