Luxury meets diplomacy: Dior, Kering mark China-France milestone

    Underlining their commitment to the mainland, Dior and Kering have launched commemorative events in honor of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France.
    A woman views a bronze head of a rabbit at the National Museum of China during a rabbit-themed exhibition on January 19, 2023 in Beijing, China. Image: Getty Images

    Luxury stalwarts are reaffirming their position in the mainland by commemorating 60 years of diplomatic relations between China and France.

    Earlier this week, LVMH-owned Dior announced that it will host a special exhibition, coined “L’Or de Dior” at the Guardian Art Center in Beijing later this year to celebrate cultural cooperation between the two countries.

    The presentation, running from September 2 to 29, will feature a curated selection of heirlooms from the Dior perfume and Dior haute couture archives, each related to the maison’s gold craftsmanship. Exclusive works by Chinese and international artists are also set to be put on display.

    Warm overtures#

    Dior’s participation marks just one celebratory event being held this year in honor of the friendship. Late last month, luxury behemoth and LVMH rival Kering joined forces with the National Museum of China to host the “Special Commemorative Event for the Return of the Rat and Rabbit Heads from the Old Summer Palace.”

    As part of the occasion, Kering premiered the documentary The Long Journey Home, a short film that chronicles the process of the two bronze statues – originally part of a 12-piece collection of zodiac animal heads at the Old Summer Palace – brought back to China.

    The relics, looted by British and French troops in 1860, were donated back to the country by François Pinault, founder of Kering Group, and his son François-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of Kering Group, in 2013, and have since been on permanent display at the National Museum of China.

    Last year, the National Museum unveiled an exhibition devoted to the Rabbit Head, the “Gui Mao Jin An-2023 New Year Exhibition,” which garnered significant attention in China. The new documentary will further explore the collaborative efforts it took to repatriate these artifacts, celebrating global cooperation in cultural preservation.

    François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s CEO, expressed his hope that the event would enhance public awareness of cultural heritage preservation and honor Sino-French ties.

    Growing trade#

    As of 2023, China is France’s third-largest trading partner after the EU and the US, importing over $27 billion (4.3%) worth of shipments from the country last year. Moreover, according to the CCI France Chine Q3 business survey, France is also the leading European investor in China.

    French luxury brands exports to China jumped by more than 100% between 2019 and 2023, the Global Times reported, providing significant opportunities for luxury labels. In Kering’s case, this year marks 50 years since the powerhouse first entered China with the opening of a Gucci boutique in Hong Kong in 1974. The Group now boasts over 400 stores across 40 Chinese cities, alongside a head office based in Shanghai.

    Luxury’s engagement with China and France’s diplomatic milestone underlines the industry’s commitment to strengthening its presence in key markets. While French luxury labels remain in hot demand among Chinese consumers, these latest moves from Dior and Kering show how strategic alignment can aid in deepening a brand’s cultural and economic ties to the mainland.

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