Dior’s latest ad campaign is drawing criticism across the internet for its flagrant appropriation of Mexican culture. Featuring brand ambassador, Jennifer Lawrence, the newest campaign shows the actress in Mexican-inspired fashion but fails to include any actual Mexicanas. In the ads, the Academy Award-winning actress sports traditional Mexican dresses and embroidered bags meant to emulate the style of escaramuza horseback riders. The designs are meant to show a modern edge to the female subset of charrería, Mexico’s officially recognized national sport.
In 2017, Dior photographer Devin Doyle became interested in the intricate sport after researching the competitive high school rodeo.
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Photographer Viviane Sassen speaks about the experience of shooting the campaign for the #DiorCruise 2019 collection designed by #MariaGraziaChiuri, with insights on working with Jennifer Lawrence and the starkly modern Californian setting. ⠀ © @FabienBaron
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Inspired by the escaramuza riders he encountered, Dior released its May 2018 line in a fashion show titled “Diorodeo.” The Mexican-styled line is the first under Dior’s first female creative director, Italian designer Maria Garzia Chiuri.
In the Dior ad, Lawrence explains, “One of the main inspirations for this collection is the traditional women riders of Mexico. So I’m really excited that this collection is looking at and celebrating these women’s heritage through such a modern lens.” She adds, “We’ve been shooting in a beautiful ranch in California with rolling hills, and I can’t think of a better landscape to highlight this collection.”
The brand first released images of Jennifer Lawrence in the appropriated garb back in late October.
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Lol. Wut?! Sooooooooo, #Dior & #JenniferLawrence wanna celebrate traditional Mexican women riders thru a “modern lens”…by having a rich white woman named Jennifer be the face of this campaign? And like they couldn’t think of a better landscape to shoot than in California?! Hmm, I dunno, maybe…like…shoot…in…Mexico…with…a…Mexican…actress like Salma Hayek, Karla Souza, Jessica Alba, Selena Gomez, Eva Longoria, or many others. But I guess they were all unavailable, so you had to go with Jennifer Lawrence. 🖕🏾🖕🏾🖕🏾🖕🏾🖕🏾🖕🏾🖕🏾🖕🏾🖕🏾🖕🏾🤦🏾♀️🤦🏾♀️🤦🏾♀️🤦🏾♀️🤦🏾♀️🤦🏾♀️🤦🏾♀️🤦🏾♀️🤦🏾♀️🤦🏾♀️🤦🏾♀️. The audacity to call this shit modern because it’s worn by a white woman is ignorant and gross, but unfortunately, not surprising. Please comment below with Mexican designers I should support and give my dolls to, heauxes, because this boo boo ass Ricky’s Halloween store Mexican cosplay is not the jam.
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While it didn’t receive much backlash at first, it was recently called out for its tasteless co-opting of Mexican culture.
On Tuesday, November 13th, Phoebe Robinson shared the Dior ad on Instagram, calling the theft of Mexican culture “ignorant and gross.” Robinson is co-star of the popular podcast “2 Dope Queens,” a series that regularly features female and LGBTQ comedians and comedians of color. The show often focuses on racial, sexual, societal and political issues that impact marginalized communities.
In the post, Robinson wasn’t afraid to spell out the issues with Lawrence’s Dior ad, even going so far as to call it “cosplay.”
The post reads as followed:
Lol. Wut?! Sooooooooo, #Dior & #JenniferLawrencewanna celebrate traditional Mexican women riders thru a “modern lens”…by having a rich white woman named Jennifer be the face of this campaign? And like they couldn’t think of a better landscape to shoot than in California?! Hmm, I dunno, maybe…like…shoot…in…Mexico…with…a…Mexican…actress like Salma Hayek, Karla Souza, Jessica Alba, Selena Gomez, Eva Longoria, or many others. But I guess they were all unavailable, so you had to go with Jennifer Lawrence.
The audacity to call this (expletive) modern because it’s worn by a white woman is ignorant and gross, but unfortunately, not surprising. Please comment below with Mexican designers I should support and give my dolls to, heauxes, because this boo boo (expletive) Ricky’s Halloween store Mexican cosplay is not the jam.
Robinson isn’t alone in her views of Dior’s misconduct. The post had nearly 10,000 likes and over 900 comments as of Wednesday evening.
“So we building walls around diors now right??” Instagram commenter rcgstah questioned, referring to the Trump Administration’s wish to see a border wall built in the near future. “No? O we letting the clothes in but not the people. Cool cool cool. Unbelievable.”
Another commenter pointed out the bigoted assumption that Mexico isn’t already a modern country. Instagram user uptownro stated, “As if there is no “modern Mexico.” Mexico is so modern it even has…get this…Dior stores!”
Referencing the rampant appropriation in Hollywood, Instagram user aimeecakes04 said, “Can’t wait to see Emma Stone’s campaign for Dior’s Asian heritage inspired line.”
The decisive discussion soon took to Twitter.
how many marketing meetings did the @Dior team go through before deciding Jennifer Lawrence was the best face for a “modern Mexican” inspired line
— autumnal worm (@indigogurt) November 14, 2018
Some users were curious as to just how clueless decision makers at Dior are to think this ad was a good idea.
Others also questioned the location of the shoot.
Well this is super fucked up! This collection was inspired by 'women riders in Mexico' but is faced by Jennifer Lawrence and the shoot took place in California…..for real @Dior ????? https://t.co/7U5WMHHEk2
— Margot Woll (@margotwoll) November 13, 2018
Though inspired by Mexican culture, the ad was shot in California.
The Dior ad was also compared to other mismanaged marketing campaigns.
The @Dior campaign with Jennifer Lawrence is a great example of how idiotic marketing teams can turn great social movements into bad marketing. Get a Mexican model. This is so far off the mark it’s crazy and I can’t believe more people aren’t discussing it. This is Pepsi bad.
— AT Barnes (@WriteHarpSing) November 13, 2018
More and more often, we’re seeing brands attempt to integrate social movements or cultural events into their marketing strategy.
Still, others have defended the brand’s decision to feature Lawrence. Some cited that the actress’ six-year stint as the company’s brand ambassador as a proper reasoning for her inclusion in the campaign. Others defended Dior’s need for a big name celebrity to attach to any new project.
However, these arguments erase the very real people of Mexico who influenced this line. There are Latina celebrities that could more authentically embody this collection. There are also plenty of non-celebrities who would be perfect for the job.
Furthermore, the Latina escaramuza riders who inspired Devin Doyle don’t work so hard to make a place for themselves in the sport just to be erased by Dior. As long as companies appropriate our cultures for their own gain, we will continue to remind them that we are more than just ideas to be harvested and discarded.