Winter Olympian Eileen Gu set Chinese social media alight after she attended Monday evening’s famously elite Met Gala in a figure-hugging Louis Vuitton mini-dress.
Appearing on the red carpet only days after departing China for the US, where she is expected to enter college this September, the freestyle skier was — within hours of the event — the second most talked-about issue on the Twitter-like site Weibo. Over 250 million people have seen the hashtag #EileenGuMetGalaRedCarpet.
Gu, who was born and reared in California, transferred her sports allegiance to her mother’s homeland, China, ahead of this year’s Beijing Winter Games. Her success there has helped her land contracts with companies such as Victoria’s Secret and Tiffany & Co.
The skier’s collaboration with Louis Vuitton has also resulted in her appearance in high-profile ads for the French luxury company. For the Met Gala red carpet, which is notorious for its strictly restricted guestlist, the label clothed her in a strapless leather gown, knee-high boots and a metallic handbag.
While some users questioned Gu’s commitment to the fundraiser’s theme, “Gilded Glamour and White Tie,” Chinese netizens overwhelmingly praised the outfit.
“Her shape and style are quite similar to those of a supermodel,” one Weibo user said. “Eileen Gu looks gorgeous in this costume,” said another, comparing her to DC Comics icon Wonder Woman.
Others, though, claimed that Gu was riding high on the triumph of her Olympic victory. “She is capitalising on her fame right now and is eager to maximise her business worth,” one user remarked. “What a brilliant and seamless plan.”
Gu was one of numerous celebs who wore Louis Vuitton to the event, including Emma Stone, Cynthia Erivo, and “Squid Game” actor Hoyeon Jung.
Though recognised as an athlete, Gu is also signed by IMG Models, the agency representing fashion giants like Bella Hadid, Kate Moss and Hailey Bieber. Even before winning up three gold at her maiden Olympics in February, the skier could be spotted at industry events like Paris Fashion Week.
She attended the Met Gala for the second time on Monday, wearing a Carolina Herrera bubble gown last year.
“Compared to previous year, she got far more confidence and began to enjoy the gala,” one Weibo user said, while another added, “She is just 18 yet has been invited to the Met Gala twice.”
Gu sparked debate on Weibo last week with an apparently benign tweet waving farewell to China as she prepares to study in the United States. Last Monday, the skier simply wrote to her 6.8 million Weibo followers, “Thank you China,” with an emoji of the Chinese flag and a heart. However, some netizens criticised her of acting “foreignly,” while others questioned why she didn’t say “thank you homeland” or “thank you (my) nation.”
With several Chinese localities facing lockdowns or growing outbreaks of Covid-19, Gu’s departure has also been criticised. Some netizens saw parallels between the star’s Met Gala performance and the plight of millions of Chinese citizens.
“If the pandemic continues to flare, the economy will continue to deteriorate, and regular people will lose the capacity to sympathise with these champions – who don’t have to worry about food or clothes – even though Eileen is innocent,” one Weibo user commented.