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Fashion blogger and entrepreneur Chiara Ferragni caused a ruckus in Italy after partnering with Evian to release a limited edition bottle of water.
The new fashion collaboration features a bottle bearing Ferragni’s signature blue eye icon, as well as other hearts, stars, flowing water and mountains in tribute to the French Alps. The bottle is available in a 75 cl glass version, as well as a plastic edition.
But the price tag, $9.28 (8 Euros), has raised more than a few eyebrows in the country, as many took to social media to decry the inflated price of the bottle. The bottle is on sale at upscale department store Rinascente, and one website, Acque di Lusso, is selling a case of 12 bottles for $84 (72.50 Euros), making the price a still-hefty $7 a bottle.
The bottle actually launched in 2017, but social media users brought new attention to the product after noticing the cost in stores. One user juxtaposed a photo of the bottles next to a family in India rifling through trash, writing “how the world sucks.”
Oggi ho visto la bottiglietta d’acqua Evian, limited edition di Chiara Ferragni.
Questa è una donna indiana con i figli che rovista tra i rifiuti di una discarica nei pressi di Gurwahati, in India.
Sì, è banale dirlo.
Ma quanto fa schifo il mondo. pic.twitter.com/MHYO58byyY
— stefania stravato (@FannyStravato) October 7, 2018
One meme called it one of the four most precious liquids in the world, next only to the holy water from Madonna of Lourdes. Comedy vloggers created videos mocking the bottle, doing blind taste tests or showing fans worshipping at the altar of Ferragni, racking up hundreds of thousands of views.
Despite the controversy, stores have continuously sold out of the special design. Acque di Lusso has struggled to keep the bottles in stock.
Ferragni responded to the controversy by retweeting a meme that showed the bottle containing the tears of her wedding day.
Gli ingredienti. pic.twitter.com/3SgsswS9zf
— trashitaliano.it (@trash_italiano) October 8, 2018
Italian politicians even joined in on the controversy in a rare direct attack against the popular blogger.
Giorgia Meloni, head of the ultra-rightwing Brothers of Italy party posted a parody video on Facebook with her own face on it. “We respond with Giorgia Meloni water, which costs nothing because water is a public good,” she wrote.
And the Brothers of Italy deputy Giampietro Maffoni even brought the bottle up in a speech in parliament. “It is estimated that 3900 children die every day due to water scarcity and about 10% of all world diseases could be avoided by improving the supply of water,” he said.
“I state that if there is someone who feels the need to spend 72.50 Euros for 12 bottles of mineral water is free to do so,” said Maffoni. “At the same time, I wonder if it is not the case that a woman who has the power to influence millions of young people can not review her investments from a different perspective.”
The head of Codacons, a consumer and environmental advocacy group, Carlo Rienzi has called on the Ministry of Economic Development and the Guardia di Finanza to remove the bottle from shelves. Rienzi called the product “immoral” and “potentially illegitimate,” stating that Italian consumers are protected from excessive surcharges on food and drinks.
Ferragni’s husband, rapper Fedez defended his wife on social media with a video showing that there are much more expensive bottles of water sold in Italy. He made fun of the controversy, posting a photo of a a banana with her logo drawn on in a ballpoint pen, claiming the price to be 25 Euros.
Io comunque ho una Chiara Ferragni x Chiquita se interessa pic.twitter.com/9UFlxqrMEQ
— Fedez (@Fedez) October 8, 2018
Evian has partnered with fashion designers over the past 10 years, creating limited edition bottles with Christian Lacroix, Jean Paul Gautier, Paul Smith, Issey Miyake, Diane Von Furstenberg, Elie Saab, Kenzo and Alexander Wang, all of them priced similarly.
Water giant San Pellegrino has also done collaborations with brands in the past, including Bulgari and Missoni as well as special bottles celebrating Vogue Italia and Luciano Pavarotti. The bottles were made in a very limited edition and mainly used at exclusive restaurants and events to promote Italian excellence.
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