A giant inflatable blow-up doll placed in front of a pop-up fashion store by Italian label Diesel in China has generated controversy due to its unsettling appearance.
The seven-metre long doll has been described as “the ugly object”, “hideous” and “scary” by Shanghai residents after it appeared outside the store on the city’s trendy Huaihai Road over the weekend.
The doll has a bizarre face that looks partially melted, no eyebrows and eyes that appear to be rolling into the back of its misshapen head. It is wearing a pair of what appears to be the Italian brand’s jeans and a denim top.
The inflatable doll is to promote the brand’s 2022 autumn and winter collection and has been erected on public space outside the store. This has also caused controversy, with some questioning the appropriateness of placing a giant commercial fashion show set in a public space.
The doll was among several gigantic blow-up models that appeared at Diesel’s autumn and winter show in Tokyo in June.
On Weibo, the hashtag to promote the event “Incoming Giant Phantom Tour” has received 100 million views in the past week.
On Xiaohongshu, China’s version of Instagram, the huge doll has been most commonly referred to as “the ugly object” and triggered heated discussion about its long, melted-looking face, eyes that are looking up strangely and the absence of any eyebrows.
“It was really scary. I don’t understand fashion,” one person commented.
However, some said they were attracted by the strange doll, posing in front of it for photos and sharing them online.
“I was totally charmed by this huge doll… It is very impactful visually,” said another.
The sculpture and the pop-up store will move to another area of the city in the first week of September, the company’s official Weibo account revealed.
There has been growing aesthetic debate about public artworks in recent years in Chinese society amid rising preference for traditional beauty characteristics in keeping with Chinese cultural identity.
Earlier this month, 27 people were punished for publishing a maths textbook for primary school students that went viral because of its “tragically ugly” illustrations of children after a months-long investigation from the authorities.
The book, published almost 10 years ago and in use ever since, was heatedly discussed in May after a teacher shared on social media photos of the illustrations, including distorted faces, “strange” facial expressions, a boy who seemed half-bald and another grabbing a girl’s skirt.