Are Human Billboards the Next Big Thing? A look at Italian Vogue’s Haute Mess

skittlesvia Fashionista

There’s been quite a controversy these last two weeks about the recent Vogue Italia “Haute Mess” cover story. The photospread featured flashy clothes and over the top hairdos inspired by urban culture and was criticized for its racist undertones by a myriad of websites and blogs, including Jezebel, Fashionista, and New York Magazine, which also ran an interview allowing editor Franca Sozzani to explain her vantage point and conception behind the photos.

oreovia Fashionista

Beyond the fact that the editorial could definitely be viewed as derogatory, what was really surprising is how Vogue Italia exactly replicated images from various blogs such as No Way Girl and Yum Yucky without giving proper attribution or even referencing them as inspiration.  If you look closely some of the images are nearly IDENTICAL, and basically too similar to have happened by accident.  I understand in the age of the Internet that almost everyone pulls references from various online sources, but creating content that isn’t original and is simply recycled is just wrong, and it only breeds laziness.

Another interesting component in the editorial that peaked my interest was their use of a variety of corporate logos. Some of the women were completely branded and incorporated them into their overall style and aesthetic.   Since 2008 I’ve been following the trend of people using logos as a fashion statement, and I had created a project in which companies could pay for models to be branded in their signature logo and color scheme from head to toe.  I had the idea after seeing a surging trend of tattoo advertising, where individuals would tattoo logos in their bodies as a way to earn money.

billygibbyvia The Next Great Generation

With brands wanting to be more and more a part of our lives, and combined with the massive reality TV phenomenon of the last decade, it won’t be long until “regular” people are paid by brands to advertise their products.  Seeing these over the top “ghetto hairdos” made me wonder how long it’ll take for this trend to actually come full circle. I really think that in the very near future it won’t be surprising if some of the younger demographics start wearing brands for sponsorship value, both as a way to earn money, and possibly for the ironic detachment of embracing corporate interests instead of rejecting them which was the common stance in previous generations.

Here are some other examples of people embracing corporate logos:

This is an interesting blogger who claims he’ll wear your brand for money:

A woman wearing an all Louis Vuitton suit

The Mike Judge film Idiocracy predicts that people will be sponsored by brands:

Artist Ryder Ripps and his fascination with the brand Under Armour


Vogue Italia



New York Magazine

No Way Girl

Yum Yucky

Toilet Paper Entrepreneur

The Next Great Generation

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