A Chinese photographer has apologized after French luxury fashion brand Dior forged a high-profile image of an Asian model after complaining that the freckled woman with piercing eyes failed to Western tastes and stereotypes.
“As always, Dior respects the feelings of the Chinese people. … If mistakes occur, [Dior] must be open to receiving feedback and correcting them in a timely manner, ”the fashion house wrote on its Weibo account on Wednesday, the BBC reported.
The company’s statement noted that the image of famous Chinese photographer Chen Man was a work of art displayed at a Lady Dior exhibition in Shanghai and was not intended for advertising. The picture was removed after the riot and the exhibition closed on Wednesday.
Chen apologized for his work this week on his social media account without mentioning Dior.
“I blame myself for my immaturity and ignorance” in my previous works, Chen, 41, wrote on Weibo. “I think I have to … formally apologize to everyone.”
Critics broke out on social media after the picture appeared in the exhibition earlier this month, saying the model – who appears in traditional dress with a black Dior handbag – lacked the bright skin and larger eyes that were popular among the Chinese.
The Beijing Daily described the model as having a “gloomy face” and small, “eerie eyes”.
“For years, Asian women have always appeared with small eyes and freckles from the Western perspective,” the leader said. “The photographer plays up to the brands or the aesthetic taste of the western world.”
China Women’s News said the image of the model with “raised single eyelids” made people “uncomfortable”. Dior revealed his intent to “ugly Chinese women,” it claimed.
But others spoke up for the image, calling for a broader acceptance of diverse Chinese beauty.
A Weibo user asked, “Why can’t a Chinese woman with small eyes also be considered beautiful? I see no problem in this.”
The uprising over the image again sparked criticism of Chen’s previous work, including “Young Pioneers,” a series of photos in 2008 of a young model in various scenes, some with backgrounds of major Chinese landmarks.
The state-owned newspaper Global Times reported that critics on social media had called this work “implicit child pornography,” insulting Young Pioneers, the name of a youth organization affiliated with the Communist Party.
A 2012 series of 12 magazine covers by Chen featuring Chinese women was criticized for “creepy” makeup.
Chen remarked in his apology: “I was born and raised in China. I love my country deeply. As an artist, I am fully aware of my responsibility to document Chinese culture and showcase Chinese beauty through my work.”
She added: “I want to educate myself on Chinese history, attend more relevant events and improve my ideologies. … I will strive to tell the history of China through my work.”