Dior is under fire after debuting a snippet of a new fragrance campaign that featured Native Americans and actor Johnny Depp.
According to The Guardian, Dior teased the ad on Twitter on Friday as “an authentic journey deep into the Native American soul in a sacred, founding and secular territory”. The tweet has since been deleted and all references to the campaign on social media.
An extended video promoting the fragrance shows the actor walking amongst the red rocks of south-western Utah as a Native American fancy war dancer Canku One Star, a Rosebud Sioux member. He then performs on a cliff and a young woman, played by Canadian actor of First Nations descent Tanaya Beatty, follows him from a distance.
Since the debut of the video, many have criticized the brand citing the fashion brand for cultural appropriating and racism.
“It is so deeply offensive and racist,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, CEO of the media watchdog group IllumiNative, says in the article. “I don’t know how anyone in 2019 can think a campaign like this can go down well.”
Although the ‘Sauvage’ line of perfumes isn’t new, the brand’s continued use of the name alongside Native American imagery has drawn much criticism for nearly 40 years. The French name of the fragrance line translates to “wild” or “savage” in English.
“Honestly, I couldn’t help but laugh because this drips with irony, every single aspect of it,” said Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, an environmental and economic justice group. “But I’m also upset and angry at the same time.”
Goldtooth told the Guardian, “[the video] romanticized Native Americans as relics from the past,” he adds, “It’s deplorable that Dior thought this was appropriate.”
Dior stated in a press release that the film was created in collaboration with Native American consultants and the advocacy group, Americans for Indian Opportunity, with goals of “moving away from clichés in order to avoid the cultural appropriation and subversion that so often taints images representing Native peoples”.
However, Dior’s attempt to work with Native Americans fell short and missed the mark big time. “It feels like they tried to do it ‘right’ and involved some great people – but it’s still an ad for a notoriously racist company and a product called ‘Savage’,” Adrienne Keene, a scholar and founder of the blog Native Appropriations wrote.
According to the article, Dior did not respond to a request for comment.