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Dior sparks outrage by featuring Native American dancer in ad for perfume with name meaning 'savage'


Promotions for the new 'Sauvage' fragrance have been pulled

Image source: Dior video advertisement screenshot

Luxury fashion brand Dior was hit with heavy backlash this week, after releasing an advertisement for their new "Sauvage" perfume featuring a Native American dancer. Critics accused the company of exploiting indigenous cultures and insulting them by using the imagery and for using it to sell a product that means "savage."

What are the details?

Dior has been gradually promoting the release of the new perfume, rolling out videos and ads starring the face of the product, actor Johnny Depp. The Hill reported that on Friday, the company tweeted out a now-deleted message showing a Native American man dancing to drumbeats with the caption, "An authentic journey deep into the Native American soul in a sacred, founding and secular territory."

New York Magazine contributor Yashar Ali got his hands on the full advertisement and sent it out on Twitter, saying the clip "is worse than the teaser."

People magazine reached out to Dior for comment after the brand pulled its ad following the online outrage. The company replied with the full press release of the campaign, which explains:

As we began to evoke Native American imagery and symbols in this new film, the House of Dior, Jean-Baptiste Mondino and Johnny Depp immediately decided to contact Native American consultants who are enrolled citizens of the Comanche, Isleta and Taos Pueblos and the Pawnee Nation, with years of experience fighting cultural appropriation and promoting authentic inclusion. This collaboration, which started at the very beginning of the project, led to a work process that was extremely demanding and specific. On-going communication about the project, and then on the film set, had a shared aim: moving away from clichés in order to avoid the cultural appropriation and subversion that so often taints images representing Native peoples.

Anything else?

Dior isn't the first high-end brand to be accused of cultural appropriation. Back in June, luxury fashion label Carolina Herrera got in trouble not only from online mobs but the Mexican government over the designs of some of its garments in a resort collection.

The BBC reported that Mexican cultural minister Alexjandra Frausto sent the firm a letter informing it "that some of the patterns used in the collection are unique to certain regions of Mexico and their indigenous peoples," asking "whether these communities would benefit in any way from the sale of the clothes."

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