Zelensky aide sees ‘symbols of aggression’ in luxury ad

Aide to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky blasted France’s Louis Vuitton for an ad with symbolism that he interpreted as pro-Russian

Zelensky aide sees ‘symbols of aggression’ in luxury ad

Zelensky aide sees ‘symbols of aggression’ in luxury ad

Ukrainian activists interpreted Louis Vuitton’s French flag-inspired banner as a show of support for Russia

A senior adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has joined a chorus of pro-Ukraine activists claiming that French fashion icon Louis Vuitton has blood on its hands for posting an advertisement that features one of the company’s decades-old symbols.

At issue is a Louis Vuitton ad, promoting its show at Paris Fashion Week on Monday, showing the unfurling of a large flag with the blue, red and white stripes of the French tri-color. The flag features a large V in the middle symbolizing Vuitton, just like the V in the company’s logo.

It has flown above the company’s flagship store in Paris since at least 2014, long before the Russia-Ukraine conflict escalated last year, and it has been emblazoned on some of the designer’s products, such as T-shirts and sweatshirts. In fact, Louis Vuitton has used the flag-V logo since at least 1901, as evidenced by its appearance on bags in the brand’s museum.

Nevertheless, Zelensky’s senior adviser Mikhail Podoliak blasted Louis Vuitton on Sunday, saying the company was trying to allude to Russia’s red, blue and white flag and the V symbol used by its military.

“An elite fashion house focused on Russian nouveau riche chose to publicly toy with the symbols of aggression,” the adviser said in a Twitter post. “Luxury smells better when it’s drenched in blood, right Louis Vuitton?”

Although the French and Russian tri-colors are similar, the Louis Vuitton banner matches the arrangement of the blue, red and white stripes in France’s flag. The Russian flag has a white stripe on top, blue in the middle and red on the bottom. The Russian military uses V as a symbol meaning “strength in truth” and the letter Z meaning “for the victory.”

Last March, Louis Vuitton faced a similar wave of negative feedback for its jewelry collection, even as it is difficult to imagine that company is somehow secretly supporting Moscow. Louis Vuitton was among the first major fashion brands to pull out of the Russian market after Moscow’s special military operation against Kiev started in February 2022. Eight days after the offensive began, French luxury group LVMH, announced the closure of its 124 stores in Russia. In fact, Hermes, Cartier and LVMH were the first major luxury goods companies to suspend operations in Russia.