China reacts to Michelle Yeoh’s appointment as Balenciaga brand ambassador

What Happened: Chinese netizens are reacting to Michelle Yeoh’s recent appointment as brand ambassador for Balenciaga. 

The maison unveiled its deal with the actress-slash-producer on November 9, coinciding with its Spring 2024 campaign featuring models Malgosia Bela, Arthur Del Beato, Khadim Sock, Eva Herzigova, and Soo Joo Park. 

“I am thrilled to join Balenciaga as a brand ambassador. The brand embodies a sense of originality and relevance while always remaining true to its character as a couture atelier,” Yeoh announced in a statement. British documentary photographer Platon also captured a portrait of the Oscar-winning Malaysian star to commemorate the ambassadorship. 

Yeoh joins French actress Isabelle Huppert and Thai star PP Krit Amnuaydechkorn, who have been brand ambassadors for Balenciaga since July. As part of her role, she will represent the label at key events and appear in promotional campaigns.

The Jing Take: The multihyphenate’s appointment as brand ambassador for Balenciaga comes as no surprise.

The storied Parisian house has cemented itself as a staple mainstay in the actress’ wardrobe in line with her decades-long career. After attending Balenciaga’s fall couture presentation during Paris Haute Couture Week in 2022, Yeoh sported a luminous green custom piece at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, as well as a strapless gown from the maison’s couture collection for Kering’s Women in Motion dinner.

Having established her name across Hong Kong and the wider APAC region in the ‘80s, Yeoh entered the Western mainstream through roles in Hollywood films such as Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) and Crazy Rich Asians (2018). The actress made history in April this year after becoming the first Asian woman to win Best Actress at the 95th Academy Awards. 

After conquering Hollywood, she’s now cementing her status as a fashion icon. 

Michelle Yeoh wearing Balenciaga at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. Photo: X

As for Balenciaga, the Demna-led brand is leaning further into the APAC market as it attempts a comeback following an ad scandal in 2022. In May, the label ramped up its efforts at wooing Chinese consumers with a heartfelt 520 campaign, which played to Gen Z’s penchant for self-expression through personalization.

However, the brand has struggled to bounce back from its fall from grace. The controversial campaign led to widespread boycotting and a plummet in sales during Q4 of 2022, which parent group Kering called “as bad as it gets.”

Opting for a widely loved household name like Yeoh may be a step in the right direction. 

Across China, netizens have taken to domestic platforms like Xiaohongshu to praise Balenciaga on its choice of ambassador, commenting that the team-up is “classy” and “suits Yeoh’s style well,” ultimately bringing hope for the brand’s possible redemption arc. 

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.