Diane von Furstenberg is well-respected in the fashion industry and is an elegant lady. So, it was quite shocking when she uttered these words last month:
The Chinese people are very individual. I mean, they are not like the Japanese that are obedient. They’re very — they’re like Jews, really, except that there is a lot more of them. And you know, I mean, try to think of governing a billion and a half Jews.
These remarks were addressed to Norman Pearlstine of Bloomberg at a Bloomberg Businessweek event held at 92nd Street Y. As these uncharacteristic words of von Furstenberg’s made headlines, the public reacted negatively. Based on the comments left by people on the New York Times site (which quoted her), some speculated that she might have been a tad tipsy while others simply thought that she was being racist. Still others wonder if she had used racial stereotypes in order to make an analogy about the economy and the government.
Taking things into perspective, one must know that the famed designer is Jewish and that her mother is a Holocaust survivor. 92nd Street Y in New York is a non-profit centre that was initially built for Jewish males and has now evolved into a place that embraces people from all racial, cultural, religious and economic backgrounds.
As Chanel, Dior and Prada have held fashion shows in China, Furstenberg is also keen to delve into the Chinese market: “I’d like to sell every Chinese a t-shirt,” she says in another New York Times article. Come April, Furstenberg will be unveiling her retrospective called Journey of a Dress in Beijing.