Dior’s newest ad campaign features rows and rows of identical Chinese women (literally identical- digitally reproduced). In the center, is a very tall, gorgeous western model dressed in Dior. One may take this ad to say that with Dior, you stand out from the pack; the lady in red when everybody else is wearing tan.
Yet, why were different races necessary to convey the message? And why wasn’t the head model in Dior Chinese as well? Says YahooNews!, “the images just seem to reminiscent of “Orientalism” and stereotypes, too flippant with a sensitive period of China’s past”.
Well, the debate begins with the artist (Shih) speaking. Shih claims that the images, while supported by Dior, are solely his. And I quote, “I wanted to express a dialogue between Chinese fashion and Western Fashion. During that time (60s to 90s), China was a country with socialism—people wearing all the same outfits… That’s the history… I don’t think the Chinese models are in some way demeaning. The Dior model for me is also a ‘model’ – she stands there only to represent the clothes, not herself and not a western person.” The artist continues by saying that if he was given a Dior model who was Chinese, he would have happily used her in the shoot instead. However, he was not.
Says Madeline O’Dea at Artinfo (taken from YahooNews!), “When the products of these collaborations are questioned, it is the artists who find themselves in the firing line, forced to defend their credibility and knowing that at all costs they must never admit they did it for the money.”
Well since this has yet to be settled, I’ll hand over my opinion. Racist? No. Clueless? Yes. The ad suggests that the Chinese seem to be a featureless mass while the Westerners, in contrast, are beautiful and dress distinctly. Especially after Galliano was fired by Dior for his antisemitic remarks this past winter, we would expect the fashion-line to be far more PC and delicate in the months to come.