When I saw this in a magazine featuring Emma Stone, I had to rip it out.
The lush jewel tones of plum and fuchsia are so striking and different from the safe palettes of beige and neutrals of most advertisements nowadays. The website's description is certainly striking:
"Integrating the amazing power of Chinese grace and stature with western virtues, beauty has its eye on the East for Fall 2012. Richly defined with deep lacquer reds and bright reds quelled by intense black, the look for Fall 2012 is ultra soft and feminine yet powerful and intriguing."Emma Stone holds an orchid in a way that seems to mimic something between cigarette-holding and a Buddhist mudra. Perhaps this is unintentional, but ironically this combination of hand gesture and flower was a historical symbol of prostitution and courtesan availability. Like many other revived ideas in contemporary times, it has lost its original meaning and has become a symbol of eroticized elegance instead.
|Tang dynasty painting of a courtesan and her maidservant|
It seems to imply that Chinese grace offers the ultra soft and feminine while Western virtues makes it powerful; conversely, it also implies that there is a lack of grace and stature within Western virtues. Surely their campaign plays on cultural stereotypes. Jing Wang, author of Brand New China, doesn't see this as offensive or a bad thing; in fact, many companies use this exact strategy to transform the international perceptions of China, a country long characterized by cheaply made goods and low quality. Instead, marketing campaigns play on the positive stereotypes:
wisdom, mystery, spirituality, harmony, invention, energy, vitality, high intelligence, high craft, industriousnessThese draw upon dynastic China, romanticizing China's lost eras of prosperity, desirability, and advancement as a fashionably new kind of "vintage." Once again, China has become a thrilling, marketable country, a banner to be worn with pride.
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