This past week, Dior released a new ad for their “Sauvage” cologne, but they soon took it down after viewers accused the company of racism.
The video was posted on Dior’s social media with the caption, “An authentic journey deep into the Native American soul in a sacred, founding and secular territory.” The video features Johnny Depp wearing a cowboy hat, wandering through the wilderness, playing a guitar, and sitting near the fire. Throughout the video, an indigenous woman, Tanaya Beatty, watches Depp from afar. The video also shows indigenous imagery. The name of the cologne, “Sauvage,” follows the video.
Dior has acknowledged that this would be a difficult concept to approach.
In a statement, the company explained the process that they went through. Dior said, “As soon 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.” The brand also said that they worked with an indigenous advocacy group, Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO), to ensure accuracy throughout the video.
As a result, some people are praising the ad.
However, for many people consultation was not good enough.
These people believe Dior should not have made the ad at all. Many Twitter users have called the brand out for being racist.
The biggest problem people have with the ad is the name of the cologne itself. The word “sauvage” is a French slur racists often direct at indigenous people, and in English, it translates to “savage” or “wild.” Melissa Mollen-Dupuis, the co-founder of Idle No More, an indigenous grassroots protest movement, explains it well. She says, “It has huge connotations. ‘Sauvage’ was to say we were dirty, uncivilized, that we had no culture. So this is not good at all. This is a racial slur for any Indigenous French-speaking person.” She then states, “It’s as if they used the N-word to promote a perfume.”
The ad was therefore taken down, and there has been no statement from the company since.
It is also important to note that this is not the first time Dior has used cultural appropriation in their ads. Last year, Depp was a part of a similar ad, this time focusing on Navajo folklore. They also ran a campaign that was based on Mexican culture but featured no Mexican people.
Sadly, this kind of behavior is not uncommon in the high-end fashion industry. Both Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci have had cultural missteps within the past year as well. So, while some praise the Dior ad, others say it is part of a bigger inclusion problem within the fashion and cosmetics industry.
What are your thoughts on the ad? Tell us in the comments!
Featured Photo via svetlana7_dior_ambassador.