Continuing its ongoing efforts to maintain relevance in the fickle Chinese market, Dior hosted its first China-based haute couture show at an industrial museum space in Shanghai on March 29.
Besides showcasing most of the same surrealist-inspired collection it first exhibited at the Musée Rodin in Paris, Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri offered a Shanghai-exclusive capsule collection of 12 new dress designs, alongside a chromatic reworking of key pieces in the Paris collection.
The house also held a smaller version of the Paris Ball, inviting participants of the show into a party space decorated with motifs of disembodied arms, playing cards, and chess imagery. Invitees mulled around taking selfies with the Dali-esque backdrops and occasionally crowded around a roped-off VIP area, snapping pictures of the dozen or so celebrities invited to attend.
The move is the latest attempt by Dior to put on a younger, trendier face in the China market, following on from becoming the first luxury brand to sell handbags on WeChat, and the first to utilize Weibo’s new Story feature to release social media content.
Not all of its efforts in China have been without controversy. Both its recent KOL brand ambassadors, Angelababy and Zhao Liying, have been considered risky choices, with questions asked as to whether Dior was being shallowed out by chasing after the young actresses’ “zombie fans” rather than people who feel more aligned with the brand.
However, that move seems to have paid off. A report by RTG Consulting Group naming Dior the most relevant luxury label among China’s Generation-Z (or post-90s).
The Shanghai capsule collection seemed at first glance similarly controversial. The new designs were meant to pay homage to China in two ways: the collection’s power suits were color-washed red to symbolize “happiness and good fortune;” and the 12 new dresses were said to be inspired by the concept of Chinese paper fans, and also echoed the pink and red theme.
In touchier times, not only would the brand have been lampooned for its lazy, pandering use of the color red, but two of the dress designs – put front and center as part of the collection – might have sparked controversy for being strikingly similar to Japanese imperialist imagery.
Perhaps reflecting the same perceived shallowness of their ambassador choices, a week after the show, the only media attention the house has garnered from it has come from the KOLs and media Dior brought to the show. Prominent fashion bloggers have been mostly silent on both the issue and the Dior show at large.
A spokesperson for Dior explained that the brand's digital efforts this go around included live broadcasts of the haute couture show online, and inviting influencers from the youth-heavy app Douyin to party at their masked ball afterwards.
The spokesperson cited hefty numbers for views and clicks onto its various curated social media efforts, alleging that eight million viewers watched the haute couture livestream and that its Douyin broadcasters racked up nearly 10 million eyeballs altogether.