A small NYC design company based in Manhattan has found itself in the center of another debate on cultural appropriation after releasing a Qipao print bikini that many believed was promoting the fetishization of Asian women.
Palais Du Dèsir, owned by Fashion Institute of Technology student Vanessa Danelle, posted a photo of the “Chinoiserie” on the shop’s Instagram page with the caption:
“Introducing the 💮🎎Chinoiserie🎎💮 mini collection. Shown here is a reversible bikini that can be worn as swimwear or lingerie. One of several pieces in that will be available for purchase on Chinese New Year.”
For the uninitiated, “Chinoiserie” is a borrowed French word defined as “the imitation or evocation of Chinese motifs and techniques in Western art, furniture, and architecture, especially in the 18th century.”
Since its release, the bikini has drawn heavy criticism on Twitter and Instagram with users calling for the product to be taken down for fetishizing cultural patterns. Comments are now disabled on all posts regarding this item.
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One user decided to reach out to the company directly via Instagram message:
“It was brought to my attention one of your most recent products sparked a bit of controversy. This product, although very beautiful, contributes and promotes the over sexualization and fetishization of Asian women.”
“As a POC and a company empowering POC, I’m sure you are familiar with how harmful things like racial sexualization and cultural appropriation, can be,” the user wrote. “I ask that your company remove this product from the market, in respect to Asian culture and women alike.”
The Palais Du Dèsir Instagram account responded with the following message:
“There is no Asian woman wearing my clothing so how does it over sexualize Asian women? It’s just fabric and if black people can’t use Asian fabrics lmk where that law is written.”
“By you asking me to remove MY work from MY page shows how disrespectful YOU are. You have some nerve. No it won’t be taken down. I’m not here to please you or any of the internet trolls who dislike my work,” the designer wrote. “Check yourself before you check me. Chinoiserie by definition is imitation of Chinese motifs in western art.”
The designer concluded her message by stating, “I’m not going to entertain stupidity any longer. My post stays, but you can go.”