Snob Essentials

Zadig & Voltaire racist quote in WWD-

After reading Zadig & Voltaire founder Theirry Gillier’s racist quote in WWD that his new posh and exclusive Parisian hotel will not be open to Chinese tourists, I tweeted this- “I (along w/all Chinese) am not welcome at Zadig et Voltaire hotels, so I’ll stop shopping there.” and posted it on my WeiBo.

Since then, my tweets and WeiBo posts regarding this have been mentioned in different publications and discussed in classes in French universities (happy I am doing public service beyond handbag obsessing!) The UK Telegraph reported yesterday that Thierry Gillier apologized for his remarks and claimed that they were taken out of “context” (John Galliano pleaded the same by the way). I am not surprised that he apologized (I mean, alienating 1.3 billion people is not to the best interest of his brand) but am very surprised that WWD changed his published quote from “Chinese tourists” to “busloads” of tourists at Gillier’s request. Look, we all say stupid things to the press at times, myself included (especially myself I should say!) but to change the published quote (online) after he admitted to saying it, is completely against journalism ethics! I have always held WWD in the highest esteem and this is disappointing to say the least. The WWD print version (above), however, remains the same (thank god for print!!!).

Despite his apology, I plan to refrain from buying anything at Zadig & Voltaire ever again. However, I do plan to go to the Zadig & Voltaire hotel when it opens in Paris. I will sit in the lobby (with a bottle of champagne, natch) wearing a t-shirt that says “CHINESE TOURIST“.


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    1. Completely unacceptable! You know, had his comment been against African, Middle Eastern or Jewish tourists, there would have been a huge uproar over this. Why is it that John Galliano was literally ostracized from the industry for his Jewish racial slurs yet Zadig & Voltaire not only excused from it, but his racist comments CHANGED after it was published?!?!? Because it’s okay to display blatant racism against the Chinese???
      Racism is racism. Period. I’m hugely disappointed in WWD, a publication I have always held in the highest esteem.

      1. Good for you! Calling attention to examples of racism is so critically important, especially when casual hating has become all too common. The editors of WWD should be ashamed of their part in this.

        Add one more to the boycott; we’re all “Chinese tourists”, including this white, middle-aged, Jewish mom of two!

    2. I applaud and support your outspoken stance on this topic. Racism will always be all around us and given your high profile, I am very grateful to you for being brave enough to make a statement. Thank you!!

      1. It may seem insignificant to many, but as a Chinese American I am faced with racism every where from checking out at a grocery store in Texas to airport security. My son came home crying because two little boys made slanty eyed gestures at him. It is important to me to bring awareness, for his sake. Thank you for your support.

        1. E-hug to your son from me (administered via Mommy because I don’t want to scare the poor child). As a Canadian-born Chinese (CBC) I can identify with his experience. It’s astonishing how many incidences of racism (big and small) that my friends (CBC and ABC) and I have personally experienced. It’s just that we develop thicker skins as we grow up and learn to shrug/laugh it off. Kudos to you for spreading this and count me in on the boycott and for a t-shirt.

  1. Wow. The fact that WWD changed their quote says a lot about their integrity. Hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to share this on my FB page. 🙂

  2. I am appalled at the quote and disgusted by WWD’s removal of it.
    will cease shopping at Zadig&Voltaire and will now question integrity of future articles I read in WWD.
    Diana Fung (Proud Chinese)

  3. Tina, Please develop said tee shirt (silkscreen in screaming colors) I too, white woman with bright white hair, would make a point to wear in the hotel lobby when I am in Paris next year.
    (“Racism is Racism” on tee back?)

    Rock ON,

  4. urgh! what a complete and utter pleb!

    He must have his head under a rock to not notice that the Chinese are a supreme spending force in such dire times. Why else would so many luxury boutiques in Europe, US and Middle East hire a Mandarin-speaking sales consultant?

    How is this any different to John Galliano’s outburst? Imagine if he said “No Jews, No Muslims, No Arabs, No handicapped people”!!

    Please put me down for a tee and see you in lobby of the Z&V!

  5. Go Tina! I had been seriously considering some Z&V boots, but there is no way I would buy them now. And, like everyone, I am very disappointed in WWD.

  6. Good for you! All too often demeaning, unfeeling or racist comments are tossed out that are swept under the rug unless/until someone brings them to light. (Can we say “47%”?!) No amount of backpedalling changes the original emotion behind those words.

    We’re ALL “Chinese Tourists”. Add one more to the boycott!

  7. Absolutely ridiculous! If you do come up with that tee, Tina, I’ll be sure to buy one, make a trip to Paris in 2014, and sit myself down in the lobby of the hotel when it opens too!!!

  8. No worries about not shopping at Zadig & Voltaire. I went into their store in Madrid (I am a Chinese Californian tourist) and their stuff was so boring – nothing creative. It could have been any brand. I was wanting to buy something but nothing even interested me.

    But stupid is as stupid does… it is their hotel. They can do whatever they want. We can boycott them. What? next it would be gays not welcome, Blacks not welcome..etc ?

  9. that is a hiLARious idea!. i too am just a boring white girl, but i would proudly sport your shirt with my favorite bal bag any day of the week. and way to know when its time to use your voice for a more significant purpose than our first love. always wise to pick your battles and you picked exceptionally.

  10. His comment was racist but I think he does have a point.
    I’m Chinese Singaporean but I personally feel that Chinese from China who grow up there are really loud and rude. Public encounters with them in my own country just lowers my opinion of them.
    But it’s good you’re bringing up this issue to people 🙂

    1. A – that is a prejudice against the Mainland Chineses. I am a Chinese Malaysian (your neighbour) and they are brought up to be that way. Malaysians and Singaporeans can be as rude as you think the Mainland Chineses are!

      On another note Tina, I am an avid reader of your blog. You are fabulous, you love fashion and you stand up for us Chinese, bravo! I adore you and I support you! I want to see a photo of you looking fabulous in the “Chinese” tshirt with your best Alaia heels and one of your amazing Birkins x
      Shame on WWD!

  11. I wrote an email to their customer serivce:

    Am I allowed to order items from Zadig and Voltaire if I am Chinese? The items would be shipped to America, not China, and I am a US citizen, just Chinese genetically.

    And then they wrote back:


    I return your email.

    There is no problem to send to chinese people. We are not allowed to send to China but there is no problem to send to America.

    By staying at your disposal,


    Anne-Gaëlle Répécaud

    Assistante Service Clients


  12. Sorry, but I do not get what is racist about saying you won’t rent to someone. It is a private business, they can rent to whomever they like.

  13. Amen Tina! As someone who’s family tree extends from China, Polynesia and Europe, I know what your son is going through. Here in Hawaii, I am too white to be local, but on the mainland, I am too ethnic to be white. Been treated differently my whole life. It’s funny, because the mixed (hapa as we call it here in Hawaii) kids are always the cutest. Tell him to hold his head up high and in the end, he will have the last laugh, especially with a mother like you behind him.

    1. We are actually enroute to Hawaii this week 🙂
      My boy looks totally hapa– with dark blonde hair and hazel eyes. but in Texas he just looks white to people cuz there aren’t many hapas around!

  14. I find strange and aggressive to quote Galliano here. How is this an acceptable argument to prove your point? When it comes to “territorial” issues like this, elegance and love are what I believe is required to make us grow and understand each other. Focusing on pain and misunderstandings or intolerance will not help us justifying taking a peaceful “position”. I do not believe wearing a “Chinese tourist” t-shirt will not make anything better, or worse. We need to educate each other to care.

  15. I cannot believe this is the first I’m hearing of this. It’s kind of obvious the impact that you have had if Z&V felt the need to retract their statement, also disappointing to see WWD’s stand (or lack of, thereof) about it. But atleast, we know now, huh? I’m Indian with family who is white, Chinese and possibly all colors of the rainbow and SO proud of your endeavor, hold that head high.

    P.S. Also, I think you should ban Z&V from the site. No sightings, no mentions. Let it become extinct!

  16. I can see how it was taken out of context. I knew exactly what he meant when he said it…racism didn’t cross my mind. I imagined a busload of tourist looking for a hotel to stay at…exactly what he said. He could have said a American Tourists. I, as an American, would not be offended. People make big deals out of nothing now a days…sad.

    Once he realized that he misspoke and it offended people why would he not want to change the offending words? Why leave them there for people to get upset about? He apologized, and changed the words so people won’t get their panties in a bunch from now on…good for him.

    I am sorry your son is dealing with kids making fun of him. Everyone deals with people making fun of them…their teeth, hair, ears, eyes, length of their neck, freckles, glasses…kids are mean. I could say that I got made fun of horribly when I was younger for having freckles…what nationality is that racism towards?