The ad seemed like something that would be unlikely to be approved in the turbo-charged era of race and social media in which we live.
But there it was, on French luxury fashion company Christian Dior’s Twitter feed, to sell a new perfume.
“An authentic journey deep into the Native American soul in a sacred, founding and secular territory,” it said. “More to come.”
The text was paired with an image of a Native American dancing on a Western bluff as the sun set behind him. The perfume’s name? Sauvage, or savage in English, a racial stereotype with a long history of use against Native Americans, including in advertisements.
The ad touched off a quick reaction on social media, with many accusing the company of deploying an insensitive depiction of Native Americans to sell its wares. The description for the perfume, a classic Dior fragrance that has been remade, says it exudes “warm oriental tones and wild beauty that comes to life on the skin.”
“The fragrance of a new frontier: an interpretation with a rich, heady trail that celebrates the magic of wide-open spaces.”