Italian Vogue caused a stir last month with its “Haute Mess” editorial, and this week Ladygunn magazine issued a rebuttal of sorts — a spread called “Chola!” that features a model wearing Dickies, doorknocker earrings, and drawn-on eyebrows. Editor-in-chief Koko Ntuen told The Cut that the photographs weren’t meant as a parody, but they were more her “own version of ‘Haute Mess,’ or maybe what ‘Haute Mess’ was trying to do.”
Because Vogue is a high-end fashion book, a bible, as some people consider it, I always expected if Vogue were to do a story like that, they would do it in a glamorous way, and they would make the models look beautiful … just make it look like a glamorous side of that culture. And what I saw in ‘Haute Mess’ was [that] it looked like the models were kind of making fun of those type of people, you know, the way they presented it, the whole thing looked like — and maybe that’s what [they were] going for — but it just looked like a hot mess … We’re not blaming Vogue or anything … but [we wanted to] make the model look glamorous, and we’re not having her, like, eating tacos with all gold teeth and smiling mockingly at the camera. We’re just trying to show a beautiful side of every culture.
As for using the term chola, Ntuen explained:
I think it’s something like that can be embraced by everyone, just like how the term “nigga,” [has] been embraced, especially by younger generations. That’s just, like, a word. I feel like everyone is just trying to make these words desensitized, so it just expresses their culture. You see young kids walking around saying, even white kids, they’re like, “What’s up, my nigga?” Or people will be like, “Hey, chola!” I feel like it’s just a slang term that doesn’t have to be offensive. I don’t know if I would be comfortable running a fashion story called, “Nigga!” because people would be like, “What?” [Laughs.] But I think if we did, and we did it tastefully, who knows, maybe it could sit well. I just feel like all these words are being desensitized, and I like what’s happening so they don’t hurt anyone anymore. I just feel like [chola is] an endearing term. And that’s how we used it. Some people might not use it that way, but we meant it as an endearing term.