06 September 2010

Dior's Controversial Shanghai Dreamers

Dior commisioned fine art photographer Quentin Shih to shoot these pictures for the reopening of the Dior boutique in Shanghai. The controversial images, entitled Shanghai Dreamers, featuring the Spring 2010 couture, are displayed in the store windows.According to Mr Shih: "My inspiration came from a certain Chinese style of group photography but these ceremonial photographs marks a departure from a certain historical period and herald the future. I created some typical Chinese groupings; they replicate themselves, wearing plastic clothes. They stand on display in vast spaces or upon a stage - because they were, and still are dreamers. As China enters a new era, they begin to stand together upon a world stage, self-conscious and yet filled with power."The dozens of women and men who flank the Dior-costumed models, are copy clones of one individual, duplicated again and again. Critics are saying the Dior portraits are a blatant depiction of the idea that "all Chinese people look the same." Is this racist? There's no smoke without fire, let's just put it that way.


  1. They are selling to the chinese, are they not? Do they want to have their cake and eat it too? Or are the critics reading too much? it's all a yawn, really.

  2. you know what, i really long for the day when chinese culture would once again become so self-confident that it would just laugh at these silly images, instead of getting all uptight.

    i mean: is it really important how we are perceived by westerners, or westernised asians, in this day & age? i rather doubt so.

    the ability to take criticisms, caricatures even, is a sure sign of maturity & having arrived. just look at the americans.

    right now there are still too many 'patriotic' chinese who hide their inferiority complex under huffy defensiveness.

    sad, really...:(

  3. yawn, I like it. its all pale and and frosty, rather like a washed out print. I much prefer the clothes the Chinese people are wearing in the Dior portraits, so my style.

  4. Dear Beauty: Stop being anomic!
    Dear Anon: In this case, I don't think it's as simple as all that. Mr Shih is not a westerner. Nor, I suspect are the people involved in Dior Shanghai's store who comissioned the project, etc. I do think it is objectionable to be portrayed as being an army of clones, indistinguishable, whoever the author.
    Dear BG: Are you sure the Dior clothes are not more your style?

  5. i guess this campaign would have made sense, historically, if one were to place it in the context of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), where everyone - women and men - was dressed alike, in tattered asexual nondescript Mao jackets...

  6. Dear Anon: I think this is exactly the point. It has been an age since the Cultural Revo and yet, 'fashion' persists in using these very out-moded imagery. I think 'cling' is the word. China is so not like this anymore, is it?