Dior enrages Beijing after model accused of 'slanting' eyes for shot

French fashion giant Dior enrages Beijing after model is accused of ‘slanting’ her eyes for promotional shot

  • The image has been removed from Dior’s social media without any official comment
  • It has prompted the Chinese Communist Party’s newspaper to urge the designer to issue an apology

French fashion giant Dior has enraged China after a model was accused of ‘slanting’ her eyes for a promotional shot. 

The image has been removed from Dior’s social media without any official comment on the matter. 

However, it had already caused anger amongst members of the Chinese public and prompted the Chinese Communist Party’s newspaper, the Global Times, to urge the designer to issue a formal apology.

‘If Dior truly respects the Asia market, it should have the basic respect and humbleness, instead of trying to weather publicity crises by pretending it didn’t know,’ the newspaper said in an editorial.

‘Such as an attitude will eventually cause irreparable damage to its reputation.’

The image has been removed from Dior’s social media without any official comment on the matter

It added: ‘We hope Dior can face the mistake and give a sincere apology and response to the Asian society, and make some clear explanations how it would prevent similar mistakes in the future.’

Social media users blasted the company for using the image.

One wrote: ‘What are you implying?’

Others posted that it was ‘racial discrimination’.  

Dior enraged the Chinese market less than two years ago by running a photograph featuring a stern-looking Asian woman with a Dior bag. 

The woman was described by critics as having a ‘gloomy face’ and ‘spooky eyes’.  

Chen Man, a Chinese photographer, issued an apology noting her ‘lack of consideration’. 

Dior took down the photo and argued it had always respected the feelings of the Chinese people.

Last year, Dior was stung by accusations of cultural appropriation when it introduced a skirt it said was an original from the company despite resembling a traditional Chinese design, leading to protests from consumers.  

The Global Times called Dior a repeat offender and said the latest mistake was not justified in any way. 

Bernard Arnault is chairman and CEO of LVMH, which owns Dior. He has overtaken Elon Musk as the world’s richest person

‘When similar incidents happen, it’s hard to say it was unintentional,’ the publication said. 

‘As a deliberate pose to pull back one’s eye, it carries an intent of malice, and it has offended not only the Chinese people but all Asians and Asian groups living in the West.’

China has been more outspoken over the last ten years about racially discriminatory content in advertisements by western companies.

In 2018, Italian fashion house of Dolce & Gabbana angered the Chinese public with a series of adverts that featured a Chinese model with narrow eyes and a coy demeanor. 

The model, who sported a red, sequinned dress, was instructed by a male voice-over on how to use ‘stick-like’ chopsticks to consume ‘great’ Italian foods.

The upset over the promotional shot comes as French workers protesting against pension reforms flooded into the Paris headquarters of luxury group LVMH, which owns Dior, on Thursday, calling for the rich to contribute more to financing the state pension.

Bernard Arnault, the world’s richest man, owns LMVH and the company on Wednesday reported a 17 per cent rise in global sales, with a recorded revenue of €21bn (£18.5bn) in the first quarter of 2023.

More than 100 protesters surrounded the entrance hall of the company’s building on the upscale Avenue Montaigne and climbed an escalator that leads to the upper floors, while others filled the street outside, many waving flags of the railway workers’ union Sud Rail.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and French President Emmanuel Macron (right) visit the garden of the residence of the Governor of Guangdong, on April 7, 2023

‘If you’re looking for money to finance pensions, take it from the pockets of billionaires,’ said Fabien Villedieu, a representative of the Sud Rail union, stressing that the protest was ‘symbolic and peaceful’. 

France’s labour unions have been staging strikes and marches since mid-January in protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to raise the legal retirement age. 

On Thursday, there were more demonstrations across France as trade unions urged a show of force on the streets a day before the Constitutional Council’s ruling on the legality of the bill that would raise the retirement age by two years to 64.

The government says it is necessary to raise the retirement age for most workers to balance the pension budget in years to come. The unions say the money can be found elsewhere. 

LVMH’s billionaire chairman and CEO Arnault has been a frequent target in slogans and chants during protests in France.

LVMH has benefited from a post-pandemic rebound in demand for luxury goods, and its shares have risen nearly 26 per cent since the start of this year, cementing its lead as Europe’s most valuable company. 

The world’s biggest luxury group’s strong first-quarter sales were boosted by the economic re-opening in China.

The stock of Europe’s most valuable company increased by 4.6 per cent on Thursday to reach €875 ($965) apiece. 

LVMH said first-quarter sales in Asia, excluding Japan, were up 14 per cent year-over-year, which represented a ‘significant rebound’. 

Sales were heightened by the relaxation of Covid restrictions in Asia, LVMH said in a statement. 

China halted its strict zero-Covid policy in December.

‘We registered some pretty nice pick-up in China, which bodes well for the rest of the year,’ Jean-Jacques Guinoy, LVMH’s chief financial officer, said on Wednesday.

Guinoy added that the company’s cosmetics lines were still a ‘little under pressure’ in mainland China, though leather goods and jewellery were performing strongly in the world’s second-biggest economy.

‘Overall, we are extremely optimistic,’ he said.

In Japan and Europe, first-quarter sales were strong, increasing 34 per cent and 24 per cent respectively, thanks to ‘robust demand’ from local consumers and international travelers. In the United States, sales jumped by 8 per cent.

Stocks in the $460 billion company have surged 29 per cent since the start of the year, with the luxury goods market staying robust in the face of high global inflation and worries that some economies could tip into recession.

Arnault edged past Elon Musk to become the world’s richest person in December, with a total net worth of $198 billion compared to Musk’s $176 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

MailOnline has approached Dior for comment.  

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