Dior says sorry, drops contentious photo from exhibition in Seoul

NEGATIVE IMAGE: The controversial photo shows a South Korean woman with a Dior bag in an alley with ads for hostess bars. Critics say it implies that she is someone who sells herself in bars in order to buy luxury goods.


    Apr 13, 2016

    Dior says sorry, drops contentious photo from exhibition in Seoul


    A PIECE by artist Lee Wan for an exhibition hosted by French fashion house Dior has sparked public outrage here, fuelled by claims that it portrays South Korean women as materialistic and morally loose.

    Dior bowed to the criticism and offered a public apology yesterday, announcing that it would no longer be showing the photograph Korean Woman in the exhibition.

    "We sincerely apologise for the controversy surrounding Lee Wan's piece in the Lady Dior As Seen By exhibition," Dior said.

    The composite photograph was part of the exhibition currently held at the House of Dior flagship in Seoul.

    The exhibition invites contemporary artists to create works showing how they see the Lady Dior bag.

    The photo depicts a young woman dressed in a black dress revealing her shoulders and holding a pink Lady Dior bag.

    She is standing in a dark alleyway filled with signs advertising "room salons" or hostess bars.

    The implication, according to commentators like culture critic Ha Jae Keun, is that the South Korean woman is someone who sells herself in bars and uses the money to buy luxury goods like the Lady Dior bag.

    "Dior is saying that all Korean women are bargirls who only care about buying bags," wrote one online commenter.

    "I'm going to throw away all their cosmetics," said another.

    In an interview with Dior ahead of the exhibition, artist Lee Wan said: "Dior's design products are created in a completely different way from the capitalistic production process, which focuses on efficiency.

    "I thought about how that quality was valued today, how it was consumed in Korea."

    The Lady Dior As Seen By exhibition has been held at the House of Dior flagship since late February after touring cities like Dusseldorf, Milan, Tokyo and Shanghai.