French designer Christian Dior is being heavily criticised for photographs using Chinese extras and a prominent white model standing out in clothed in Dior.
The pictures are rumored not to be part of the official Dior campaign and were taken by a Chinese photographer, but Dior is still being attacked by many on the internet with some saying that the inference of the shots are that all Chinese people look alike and that white women are the beauty standard to which women of all other races must aspire
The series of photographs were put together by Chinese photographer Quentin Shih as a personal project, with no creative input from Dior himself, to celebrate the re-opening of the Shanghai Dior store.
See the images here.
The photographs were set to publicise Dior’s Shanghai flagship store show models in haute couture posing in front of identical Chinese extras in factory overalls and drab work-wear.
Shih says this was not his intention:
“I wanted to show the power of Chinese people standing together and a kind of socialism in Chinese history. The Chinese models are not people. They are symbols of Chinese history between the 1960s and 1980s.”
His efforts have not succeeded in placating some critics however. Artinfo writer speaking to the Mail commented:
“Shih singles out for parody the 1970s — an era when China was still in the thick of the Cultural Revolution, which brought misery, imprisonment, and even death to countless citizens.”
However it is the use of the models depicted as representing creative individuality against the supposed drab conformity of Chinese socialism that is sparking controversy.
Racism in the world of fashion and modelling is rampant with non-white models struggling to access the highest echelons of the industry.
The Guardian’s Jenny Zhang believes they will alienate a potentially lucrative clientele: She wrote:
“Dior and Galliano should know better than to commission these photographs for their Shanghai storefront. [They] should have sent Chinese models for Shih to shoot, and should understand that the modern Chinese Dior customer will not recognise herself or himself in these photographs.”