Did Christian Dior just rip off a Ming Dynasty skirt design?


Chinese protesters claim that the Dior skirt is a rip-off of the traditional ‘Mamian’ or ‘horse-face’ skirt that was worn in China during the Ming dynasty.

Fashion faux pas: Did Christian Dior just rip off a Ming Dynasty skirt design?

The wraparound skirt has four slits on both of its sides and was used for horseback riding centuries ago. Image courtesy: Dior

In the world of fashion, ripping-off is a grave crime and French luxury fashion house Christian Dior is guilty if the Chinese are to be believed. Dozens of students have taken to the streets in Paris to protest against Dior, accusing it of cultural appropriation and claiming it has copied a classic Chinese skirt design, dating back to the Ming dynasty.

Students demonstrated in front of the Christian Dior store on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in the French capital. They are also threatening to stage similar protests in New York and London, according to some social media posts.

The controversial garment is a $3,800 black pleated skirt from Dior’s fall collection. The brand says that the skirt “highlights the idea of ​​community and sisterhood in looks with a school uniform allure”. But the Chinese are not buying it.

Let’s take a closer look at the controversy.

What’s wrong with the skirt?

Chinese protesters claim that the Dior skirt is a rip-off of the traditional “Mamian” or “horse-face” skirt worn in China during the Ming dynasty.

The label’s skirt which is made of pleated fabric was slammed by an opinion piece on People.com. The article said, “The so-called Dior silhouette is very similar to the Chinese horse-face skirt. When many details are the same, why is it shamelessly called a ‘new design’ and ‘hallmark Dior silhouette’?”

The only difference that people could spot between Dior’s so-called “rip-off” and the Chinese traditional skirt is that the former is calf-length while the original version of the skirt is floor-length.

Nevertheless, protesters have demanded that Dior should halt all sales of the garment at its Paris store. Demonstrators held up signs that read, “Dior, stop cultural appropriation” and “This is a traditional Chinese dress,” according to New York Post.

According to a South China Morning PostDior’s Hong Kong website has described the skirt as a “hallmark Dior silhouette, the mid-length skirt … updated with a new elegant and modern variation.”

The wraparound skirt has four slits on both of its sides and was used for horseback riding centuries ago.

How has Dior responded?

The company is yet to comment on the controversy.

However, the skirt has been removed from the shelves in Dior’s online stores in China’s mainland. The product is still available at other online stores but there is no acknowledgment that its design was inspired by traditional Chinese clothes.

According to a Global Times report, the news outlet received a response to its email to Dior which read, “Your opinion and suggestions are of great value to us as they allow us to continuously improve our customer service” and said that their message has been forwarded to the “relevant department”.

Dior’s previous controversies

Last year in November, Dior displayed a controversial photo at its Shanghai fashion exhibition. It was accused that the company portrayed Asian women as “ugly” and “spooky” with “greasy hair and scary eyelids” wearing traditional Chinese clothes and holding a Dior bag.

According to Global Timesthe fashion house said that the exhibition was not a commercial ad for the brand and that it removed all related content from both online and offline platforms.

With inputs from agencies

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