Luxury fashion brands being tone-deaf isn’t necessarily something new, but this week, French house Dior really took things to the next level of obliviousness by releasing a video ad for their Sauvage fragrance which heavily features (and many say appropriates) Native American culture.
A short clip from a longer ad that Dior posted online on Friday shows Canku One Star of the Rosebud Sioux tribe performing a war dance as the voiceover proclaims, “We are the land. Dior.” It’s just part of an extended ad the company made with Jean-Baptiste Mondino and actor Johnny Depp that was due to be released in full on Saturday, though that doesn’t seem to have gone as planned.
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In late August, Dior released a behind-the-scenes video from the making of the Sauvage film in which it was revealed that they worked with the Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO), a nonprofit advocacy group for indigenous people, on the overall concept and creation. That video has since been made private.
However, many are unconvinced of Dior’s motivation by linking their $150 fragrance, which means “savage” in English, with Native American culture, deeming it cultural appropriation at best and outright racism at worst.
Dior is a cultural appropriating racist company. ?THE?NAME?SAUVAGE?IS?BASICALLY?CALLING?INDIGENOUS?PEOPLE?SAVAGES? #boycottdior— Britney Taylorson (@Empowered_Womxn) August 30, 2019
Since Dior wants to try being slick and delete tweets pic.twitter.com/CjjlKdcbS3— Dani (@xodanix3) August 30, 2019
So all the proceeds are going to Native American tribes?
— Two-ears-for-listening (@lloydus2215137) August 30, 2019
not chill pic.twitter.com/nyibGspEX0
— tacha NIN (@Xatuuu) August 30, 2019
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
AIO’s executive director Laura Harris issued a statement to Insider about the controversy surrounding the ad, defending the organization’s collaboration with Dior, insisting that “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.”
Harris went on to insist that “AIO does not speak for all Indigenous peoples. We are proud to have successfully achieved our goals of education and inclusion for this project with Parfums Christian Dior.”
Another statement revealed that Johnny Depp was behind the AIO’s decision to work with Dior, as the actor was adopted by the Comanche Nation in 2012 and had since “reached out to his Comanche family to ask for their help to ensure Native cultures were portrayed appropriately.”
It’s still a slur if you add a u to it
— niigaanaasnok (@ChelseyMooner) August 30, 2019
The AIO believes 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.”
Despite the backlash the Dior ad has received by many, there were some people who were pleased with the brand’s inclusion of Native American culture and applauded the choice.
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
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
Dior has not responded to the controversy.