So, the French high fashion house Christian Dior could not stand the blow and apologized. For what? Of course, this is a must see if you are not afraid. “This” is a promotional photo at the Dior exhibition in Shanghai that has spread throughout the Chinese Internet.
So: a Chinese woman in a strange costume from the times of approximately the Qing dynasty (that is, more than a century ago), with a face, possibly after an attack of asphalt disease, while the bruises were then unsuccessfully covered with makeup. Instead of bangs, something like a curtain of leeches. Gnaws (or licks) the handle of a handbag.
Does China have a sense of humor and what kind is a question that arises all the time. But in this case, there is no humor, we read about the “blackening of the image of a Chinese woman” and that fashion and other arts should awaken aesthetic feelings, and a poster with a bagnip does nothing of the kind. Accordingly, the veteran of French haute couture confesses: “Dior’s sincere intentions towards Chinese society and consumers are unshakable.”
About three years ago, Dolce and Gabbana had a similar scandal, who delighted the Chinese public with the image of a girl (again, of a strange appearance and unknown origin) trying to eat a weighty wedge of pizza with chopsticks. There was also a scandal, an apology – and, like today, this story was published in central national publications. Which are one hundred percent for the offended.
Someone might think that we are continuing the conversation about how the West fatally misunderstands the East: it was about Princess Turandot and about the fact that a real Chinese princess does not chop off a bridegroom’s head. But there it is about the world classics, which the inhabitants of the ancient empire are ready to condescendingly forgive. And fashion houses are not that classic at all.
No, in our case today, the conversation is not about how difficult it is for a Westerner to understand his eastern counterpart, but about how the Chinese nation today perceives itself: with tender admiration. And is it important. Because there are not so many peoples in the world whose self-perception would be of such importance for those around them. Suffice it to recall what the fashion for an American woman looks like today in the United States itself : something muscular, evil, of an incomprehensible skin color and suffering from complexes and other mental problems. More recently, Americans have admired other women.
There is an excellent book by one of the best thinkers of our era – Umberto Eco, called “The History of Beauty”. There, a clever Italian shows how each era formed – for some very serious and completely material reasons – a new idea of what a beautiful woman (or man) is. But that is in Western civilization. And China has its own history – remember the fashion for fat (Rubensian?) Women under the Tang dynasty or for short-haired activists in french jackets under Chairman Mao, not to mention the ugly custom of bandaging women’s legs to the point of ugliness under the aforementioned Qing dynasty. And every wave of this fashion people admired. And each time, from this admiration, one could understand a lot about how a nation perceives itself.
It’s the same with men – let’s recall several complete cycles of beardiness in Russia and the USSR and again in Russia: portraits of the late 19th century suggest fleas and other living creatures in the depths of facial vegetation, then comes the time of the naked skull of a military man taking care of hygiene, then again a beard “like Hemingway” (the era of hiking in the unsanitary taiga and singing with a guitar), then… and so on endlessly. This, in fact, is a signal, first of all, to ourselves: a new century has come – and this is how we want to see our dear men today.
And now in China – look, this young lady works as a security guard and can kill a villain with a ballpoint pen. But in appearance – a fragile, delicate, vulnerable creature, the personification of subtle, elusive and delicate beauty. At the same time, the focus is only on the face, overdeveloped or underdeveloped other parts of the body are not accentuated. Such is the fashion in this country now.
Moreover, the Chinese nation today wants the whole world to admire fashion and the nation itself (and, in particular, its fragile beauties). This can be clearly seen in the discussion about the scary people with a handbag: it turns out that the nation is tired of foreign “arrogance and lack of understanding of Chinese beauty and other aesthetics of Chinese culture.”
But not only cultures. There are interesting points in the decisions of the recent plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, which have already been noticed and subjected to serious discussion by our Sinologists.
Namely: the speech that “the party, leading the people, has successfully formed the Chinese model of modernization, has created a new form of human civilization.” That is, the creation of this newest civilization “the CPC considers one of its main services, not only to the Chinese people, but to the whole world, especially to developing countries, which have been given a new, more effective alternative to accelerated modernization.”
And the Russian conclusion: “In practical terms, it is obvious that the new civilizational ideology means the growth of pride and self-confidence of the Chinese leadership against the background of the country’s tremendous economic successes.”
As you can see, it is not only a matter of the Beijing leadership – pride and self-confidence are now characteristic of many, if not all, in China. Here you can remember how in the middle of the last century the Americans, suddenly realizing that they live better than the previous masters of the world – the British, also walked and traveled around the world, proud of themselves. True, there were different stages: calm and condescending pride or impatiently irritated pride.
For the Chinese nation, the thirst for love and worldwide recognition of its merits (and especially recognition of the unearthly beauty of its women) is a relatively new and fresh phenomenon, not without a nervous element. And it is clear that gray-faced chuchundra with a bag in his teeth with such an emotional background is very annoying.
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