- Dior is facing accusations of cultural appropriation after releasing a video clip to promote its fragrance Sauvage.
- The fashion designer shared a video promoting the fragrance on Friday, which shows Canku One Star of the Rosebud Sioux tribe performing a version of a war dance as a voiceover says: “We are the land. Dior.”
- Many on Twitter responded to the video arguing that the fragrance’s name and its marketing centered on Native American culture is offensive, with some calling it racist.
- Others say they don’t think the video is problematic as Dior worked with members of Native American communities to make the video, but some argued this doesn’t redeem the designer.
- Dior consulted members of Native American communities who are featured in a video with a look behind the scenes of its Sauvage film, which the designer worked on with music video director Jean-Baptiste Mondino and actor Johnny Depp. The full film is expected to be out September 1.
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Dior is facing criticism over a video it released to promote a new fragrance in its Sauvage line, with many saying the video is disrespectful to Native American culture.
On Friday, the French designer shared a 10-second video promoting the $150 fragrance on Twitter. The video – a clip from a mini film Dior made with music video director Jean-Baptiste Mondino and actor Johnny Depp – shows Canku One Star of the Rosebud Sioux tribe performing a version of a war dance as a voiceover says: “We are the land. Dior.”
An authentic journey deep into the Native American soul in a sacred, founding and secular territory.
More to come. September 1st.
Learn more https://t.co/XW1ZveuOjA#diorsauvage #diorparfums pic.twitter.com/TT4N9Z0Iaz
— Dior (@Dior) August 30, 2019
From Dior’s tweet, it seems that the full film is expected to be released September 1.
Dior’s Sauvage fragrance has sparked outrage on social media, with many accusing the designer of cultural appropriation
The video quickly prompted a response from many social-media users who found the fragrance and its marketing problematic, with some calling it racist.
This product & ad campaign is racist & part of America's genocidal history. You should read Dr. Adrienne Keene's work (https://t.co/LaeutIb9j0) or ch. 13 of Roxane Dunbar-Ortiz, All the Real Indians Died Off: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans https://t.co/I2OdEBV7aJ
— Rose Casey (@ARoseCasey) August 30, 2019
not chill pic.twitter.com/nyibGspEX0
— tacha NIN (@Xatuuu) August 30, 2019
So all the proceeds are going to Native American tribes?
— Two-ears-for-listening (@lloydus2215137) August 30, 2019
Some have called out the fragrance’s name, Sauvage, which translates to “savage” in English.
It’s still a slur if you add a u to it
— niigaanaasnok (@ChelseyMooner) August 30, 2019
In the last year, the word “savage” has had something of a resurgence. However, as Wesley Morris wrote in a New York Times article from 2018, the word “savage” is often tinged with racism, particularly in reference to those belonging to Native American and African-American communities.
“In its expanded usage, ‘savage’ glorifies the imagined wildness that the word once sought to quarantine,” Morris wrote. “But the moral corralling persists.”
- Screenshot of Dior.com
Dior consulted members of Native American communities to make the video, which some have applauded while others say it doesn’t redeem the designer
A video Dior released on August 23 that gives a look behind the scenes of its upcoming Sauvage film features members of Native American communities who the designer consulted as it worked on the project – a collaboration with the Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO), a nonprofit that advocates for indigenous peoples.
“The goals of Americans for Indian Opportunity for providing consultations on media productions are to ensure inclusion of paid Native staff, artists, actors, writers etc., to educate the production teams on Native American contemporary realities and to create allies for Indigenous peoples,” the AIO’s executive director Laura Harris told Insider in an email.
“AIO does not speak for all Indigenous peoples,” Harris added. “We are proud to have successfully achieved our goals of education and inclusion for this project with Parfums Christian Dior.”
A statement from the AIO provided to Insider said that the collaboration came about after Depp – who is featured in the film, and who was adopted by the Comanche Nation in 2012 after claiming Cherokee heritage – “reached out to his Comanche family to ask for their help to ensure Native cultures were portrayed appropriately.”
“There was need for authenticity and respect for the land and the nations that allowed us to shoot there. From the choice of location, wardrobe making, right down to casting and set design, AIO was involved,” Depp is quoted saying in the statement.
As the statement notes, “unfortunately, most shape their views of Native Americans through the lens of mainstream media where American Indians are often portrayed as stereotypical characters, tragic relics of a dying past or in derogatory images.”
The nonprofit says it “was successful in changing hearts and minds as a result of the Parfums Christian Dior project, including connecting with and influencing a multinational corporation, educating and sharing a ‘new’ narrative with a 150-member production crew, bringing opportunity for Native talent, and providing access to a blockbuster star.”
Harris is quoted in the statement saying that Dior was working to avoid cultural appropriation.
“Parfums Christian Dior were very open to learning about contemporary Native peoples and were committed to avoiding cultural appropriation,” she said.
Representatives for Dior did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Some found Dior’s video beautiful and applauded its inclusion of members of Native American communities.
Beautiful, earnest & researched short film honor #inclusion of Native Americans input. @Dior promotes perfume through cultural collaboration “Christian Dior is taking #JohnnyDepp on a journey into sacred lands in a fragrance campaign that pays tribute to Native American culture.”
— Laura B (@LauraBockov) August 30, 2019
Thank you Dior, Jean-Baptiste Mondino & Johnny Depp.
This is by far the most special, sacred, meaningful & beautiful campaign film Ive ever seen.
Johnny is such a beautiful soul. This is a masterpiece ❤
— SweetWhisper7 ♡ (@Sweet_Whisper7) August 30, 2019
actual Native Americans worked on this project, were excited to help and people in the comments want to ruin it for them, sad
— a | (@lifelessword_s) August 30, 2019
However, others have argued that consulting members of Native American communities doesn’t redeem the project.
Coercing, bribing and manipulating a few natives into signing treaties etc was never morally correct or humane. None of that can be rightfully taken as “the few have spoken for everyone” either. This is the same shit.
— Tall Paul (@TallPaul612) August 30, 2019
Johnny Depp is not Native. Dior is not Native owned. What kind of nonsense is this?
I'm Native, and I'm cringing.
— Sprout (@smashthefashash) August 30, 2019
Like those of some other white public figures, Depp’s claims to Native American heritage have been questioned before.
In a 2016 Medium article about white people claiming Cherokee heritage, Meagan Day wrote that it is “especially common in the Southeast United States, where the Cherokee lived between 1000 A.D. and the 1838-9 forced relocation known as the Trail of Tears.” She added that these claims may be “somewhat plausible, because early on Cherokee people did intermarry with white settlers at an uncommonly high rate,” but wrote that “the number of people claiming Cherokee heritage far outstrips the number of possible descendants from these intermarriages.”
On its website, Dior describes Sauvage as “melding extreme freshness with warm oriental tones and wild beauty that comes to life on the skin,” and says Dior’s perfume creator François Demachy “drew inspiration from unspoiled expanses of wilderness beneath a blue-tinged night sky, as the intense aromas of a crackling fire rise into the air.”
The scent is further described as “an interpretation with a rich, heady trail that celebrates the magic of wide-open spaces.”