Perfect Diary's New Collaboration Proves Successful Without Appropriation

    On June 17, Perfect Diary released a host of exclusive makeup looks with nine famous Western makeup artists to promote their new koi fish makeup palette.
    The US-China relationship was distressed even before COVID-19 — and now it's worse. That could mean grave consequences for the American retail industry. Photo: Shutterstock.
    Jennifer ZhuangAuthor
      Published   in Profile

    On June 17, the popular Chinese cosmetic brand Perfect Diary released a host of exclusive looks, working with nine famous Western makeup artists to promote their Perfect Diary Fancy Carp Lucky Set. The nine included Hollywood celebrity makeup artist Kristina Vidic and Paris Fashion Week makeup artist Chiao Li Hsu. They each created unique fancy carp (traditionally considered a symbol of fortune in China) inspired makeup looks on mostly non-Asian models, using the new colors from the set, and in the process, sparking Chinese KOLs and cosmetic enthusiasts following suit with their own looks. Users commented, “These are such beautiful Chinese style looks.” and “The delineation (of the fancy carp) shows so much creativity and class.” The brand’s Weibo campaign #PerfectDiaryFancyCarpMonth# (完美日记锦鲤月) has attracted 140 million views and garnered 711 thousand comments since the release.

    Jing Take:#

    Cultural appropriation has always been a touchy subject for East-West collaborations, and it can easily backfire when brands incorrectly incorporate cultural elements. In 2018, Dolce & Gabbana faced a backlash for its Shanghai campaign of a Chinese model eating Italian food with chopsticks, and just last year, Zara was criticized for drawing freckles on its Chinese models. Therefore, it’s promising to see the Western makeup artists in Perfect Diary’s campaign receiving positive feedback for their balance between paying homage to koi fish as a Chinese symbol while exercising aesthetic creativity, especially when it encourages local audiences to develop and expand on this style. In a time where discussions of racial sensitivity have been continuously brought to light, brands wishing to market their cultural side have to be aware of their messaging. Since Perfect Diary's recent successful collaboration with the Discovery Channel, it's heartening to see local brands continue to globalize and innovate.

    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.

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