Eileen Gu arrives at the Met Gala in New York on Monday evening. Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Born and raised in California, 18-year-old Gu switched her sporting allegiance to her mother’s home country, China, ahead of this year’s Beijing Winter Games. Her popularity there has helped her secure deals with the likes of Victoria’s Secret and Tiffany & Co.
The skier’s partnership with Louis Vuitton has also seen her appear in high-profile campaigns for the French luxury house. For the Met Gala red carpet, which is known for its tightly controlled guestlist, the label dressed her in a strapless leather gown, knee-high boots and a metallic clutch.
“Her figure and style really resemble those of a supermodel,” wrote one Weibo user. “Eileen Gu looks stunning in this outfit,” another commented, comparing her to the DC Comics superhero Wonder Woman.
Eileen Gu (center) pictured at a Louis Vuitton womenswear show in Paris, France, in October 2021. Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Others, however, suggested that Gu was riding off the back of her Olympic medal success. “She is taking advantage of her popularity right now and is in a hurry to maximize her business value,” wrote one user. “What a smart and smooth strategy.”
Gu was one of several celebrities, including Emma Stone, Cynthia Erivo and “Squid Game” star Hoyeon Jung, to wear Louis Vuitton at the star-studded event.
Though known as an athlete, Gu is also represented by IMG Models, the agency representing fashion heavyweights like Bella Hadid, Kate Moss and Hailey Bieber. Even before picking up three medals at her debut Olympics in February, the skier could be spotted at industry events like Paris Fashion Week.
Last year, Gu attended the Met Gala in a Carolina Herrera gown. Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Met Museum/Vogue/Getty Images
“Compared with last year, she became way more confident and started to enjoy the gala” said one Weibo user, with another adding: “She is only 18 but has been invited to the Met Gala twice.”
Just last week, Gu divided opinions on Weibo with a seemingly innocuous post bidding farewell to China as she heads to the US to study. Writing to her 6.8 million followers on Weibo last week, the skier had simply posted: “Thank you China,” with an emoji of the Chinese flag and a heart. But some netizens accused her of acting “like a foreigner,” while others wondered why she didn’t say “thank you motherland” or “thank you (my) country.”
With numerous Chinese cities experiencing lockdowns or worsening outbreaks of Covid-19, Gu has also faced criticism over the timing of her departure. Some netizens pointed to the contrast between the star’s Met Gala appearance and the situation facing millions of people in China.
“If the epidemic continues to rage, the economy continues to slide, and ordinary people will further lose the ability to empathize with these champions — who don’t have to worry about food or clothing — even though Eileen is innocent,” wrote one Weibo user.