Lost in translation, Katy? AMA’s dress with Communist Party’s favourite slogan leaves China chuckling
Katy Perry grabbed the limelight in more ways than one at this year’s American Music Awards – by wearing a dress displaying the Chinese Communist Party’s current favourite slogan.
Not content with scooping a special achievement award, the 27-year-old also became a hot topic, and the subject of many jokes, with her Vivienne-Westwood-designed outfit.
Lu Se Jing Ji – translated as Green Economy – was printed onto the pop star’s stunning gown she wore for the red carpet at Sunday’s Los Angeles event.
But whilst most westerners would not know its meaning, the phrase is actually popular with Chinese leaders keen to make their nation more eco-friendly.
It has sparked debate as to whether Westwood and Perry indeed support the Chinese government, or are subversively mocking them with the inclusion of the phrase.
Chinese president Hu Jintao most recently used it as a theme in a speech last month, when he told Asian leaders he was ‘committed to grow a green economy’.
But it is seen as nonsensical jargon by ordinary members of the population, who have to endure choking pollution as they go about their daily lives.
Perry’s Chinese sequin gown was given a mixed reception online.
Katy Perry Fashion American Music Awards 2011
The Ministry of Tofu, an English-language website focusing on Chinese issues, said the text looked like it was taken directly from political slogans often heard in the state-run media.
One observer wrote: ‘I know all characters look the same to westerners, but as a designer wouldn’t it be better to look up their meaning in the dictionary first?’
Another said: ‘Maybe her choice of dress is a protest against China’s high energy-consuming industries.’
But others saw the funny side in Ms Westwood, a former punk, becoming a vehicle for government propaganda.
‘Ha ha ha, Green Economy! Katy Perry is quite politically correct!’ wrote one commenter, while another said: ‘Every time I see this kind of thing, I wonder if the English words on our clothes looks similarly embarrassing to Europeans and Americans.’
The true reason as to the inclusion of the characters, penned for Westwood by Chinese official Wang Xijia she met at the United Nations in Nairobi, is not known.
Is the floor-length strapless dress a pro-government stance? Or are the characters inclusion subversively mocking the country’s rulers?
Whatever the reason, Westwood appeared to be aware of its meaning.
On her website, she wrote that her Spring/Summer 2012 collection, which also includes ‘Mao hats and jackets’ had been inspired by China’s traditional wisdom.