When Christian Dior’s womenswear designer Maria Grazia Chiuri debuted her first cruise collection, themed “Dior Sauvage,” notably absent from the festivities on May 11 was the brand’s newly appointed China ambassador Angelababy. As the show took place in Calabasas, California, the suburban area in the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon that’s home to Drake, Kanye West, and the Kardashians, the Chinese online community continued to dispute the fashion house’s selection of Angelababy, who has been called China’s “Kim Kardashian.”
Dior apparently hoped to instill excitement around the West Coast event runway show among its Chinese fans. Kicking off with the event—which saw major celebrities in attendance such as Rihanna, Charlize Theron and international fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni—Dior pushed out more than 15 posts on its official Weibo account that introduced Chiuri, revealed behind-the-scenes shots of the event and live-streamed select moments.
The glamorous collection, though, has not been successful in diverting the attention of Chinese consumers away from their preoccupation with the suitability of Angelababy as Dior’s new face in China.
“Many old and loyal customers have complained about Angelababy. I did too,” one user, qingchunbudinianshao, wrote, and urged Dior fans to contact the brand’s headquarters by phone or email “to complain.”
“Angelababy will only downgrade the brand and drag down the sales and reputation,” the above commenter continued. “We firmly boycott her. Dior should immediately remove her position otherwise we won’t buy any products.”
There are also many users saying they would unite with Chinese consumers living in France to officially boycott Angelababy until the Parisian fashion powerhouse ceases its relationship with her.
Some users also say the rumors about Angelababy’s plastic surgery are at odds with Dior’s feminist image. The user jingjingen said, “She has a fake face, no professional spirit, and a bad reputation in China, does that stand for Dior’s independent feminist spirit?”
We reached out to Dior for comment at their headquarters in Paris and in the US, but our requests have not been answered.
Since Jing Daily first reported on the controversy, there’s been further coverage on the issue in the Chinese media. The Chinese fashion site LADYMAX wrote that the decision was not sufficiently considered, but that it fits with Chiuri’s mission of attracting more millennials. Tencent’s fashion channel was pro-Angelababy, saying that her influence is wide, she’s a highly responsible ambassador, and that she even deserves an award from Dior for being the best ambassador in China.
“Angelababy is so awesome,” wrote one supporting fan who goes by the handle dongdong. “She has worked with Dior several times. It’s not surprising that she was chosen as the brand ambassador. Congrats baby!”
While some negative reactions have affected the positions of brand ambassadors in the past, maybe a little controversy is just the effect Dior is hoping for if it aims to have a younger, more dynamic image.