As the world battles a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, fashion industry DJ Michel Gaubert, who produces soundscapes for Chanel, Dior, Valentino, and many more, is currently embroiled in an online controversy.
He is receiving backlash over an Instagram post revealing an intimate dinner with his friends, who are all wearing paper masks emblazoned with slanted eyes, yelling: “Wuhan girls, wahoo!”
The controversial post has now been removed from Gaubert’s account but has received heavy criticism from fashion influencers Susanna Lau (aka Susie Bubble), Bryanboy, and fashion watchdog, Diet Prada. Lau condemned the masks as “patently racist” and “an Asian version of blackface,” while Bryanboy wrote on Twitter: “Come on, Michel, you should know better.” Also, Gaubert’s explanation that the “yellowface” masks were a recurrent theme of the weekly party only further fueled online anger.
In light of the controversy, Gaubert quickly apologized for his controversial post on Instagram. However, it was not enough, and netizens are now making public figures accountable on social media platforms, with users pressing them for actual commitments. In fact, below Gaubert’s post, Diet Prada commented: “I know some AAPI charities that would be deserving of those Chanel paychecks. DM me.”
This particular controversy has not reached Chinese netizens yet, as Gaubert is likely not very well-known there. However, following several culturally insensitive incidents over recent years, ranging from cringe-worthy campaigns to cases of cultural misappropriation, Western brands’ allure is quickly fading in China. If luxury brands ignore these episodes and refuse to take a stand, they may well be held accountable by Chinese consumers, who are more than conscious of their buying power. At the very least, they demand respect before spending on a brand.