Dolce & Gabbana China show cancelled amid racist debacle

Dolce & Gabbana show cancelled

Fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana cancelled a major show in China after controversial videos and offensive private Instagram messages went viral on social media.

The house of Dolce & Gabbana called off a big Shanghai runway show on Wednesday after an Internet furor over the brand’s alleged attacks on Chinese culture via videos of Asian models eating Italian dishes with chopsticks.

After a series of major Chinese movie stars announced on their own Instagram pages that they were cancelling their attendance at the multi-million-euro show, the house responded that its social media pages had been hacked.

“Our Instagram account has been hacked. So has the account of Stefano Gabbana. Our legal office is urgently investigating.

“We are very sorry for any distress caused by these unauthorized posts. We have nothing but respect for China and the people of China,” read a statement on @dolcegabbana.

Stefano Gabbana  denied writing the messages.

The controversy began with a series of promotional videos, released by the luxury brand on social media, that feature an Asian model struggling to eat Italian food with chopsticks.

Screen captures appear to show a series of direct messages on Instagram in which Gabbana complains about criticisms of the videos.

The Italian designer is then accused of making derogatory remarks directed toward China and Chinese people as he defends the ads.

Both Gabbana and the luxury brand have since posted messages saying that their Instagram accounts had been hacked.

On his personal account, Gabbana pasted the words “not me” over images of the alleged comments.

The videos in question first aired on D&G’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles, as well as its Weibo account in China.

The three 40-second spots were created to promote “The Great Show,” which was billed by the fashion house as a “tribute to China.”

The first “episode,” published Sunday, features a model in a sequined red dress attempting to eat an entire pizza.

She prods the pizza with chopsticks to the sound of stereotypical Chinese music, before a narrator offers seemingly patronizing advice such as “don’t attempt to use the chopsticks as knives” and “just use your chopsticks like pliers.”

In the second and third episodes, the same model attempts to eat a cannoli and a bowl of spaghetti.

The narrator seems to mispronounce the brand’s name, with some interpreting this as mocking the way Chinese people say “Dolce & Gabbana.”

What was, perhaps, an innocent attempt to play on Chinese culture infuriated some social media users, and the topic began trending on Weibo. But the social media outcry was exacerbated by the alleged Instagram messages.

“We are very sorry for any distress caused by these unauthorized posts,” read a message later posted on Dolce and Gabbana’s official Instagram account. “We have nothing but respect for China and the people of China.”

The fashion house then doubled down in an official statement provided to the press. “Our dream was to bring to Shanghai a tribute event dedicated to China which tells our history and vision,” it read.

“It was not simply a fashion show, but something that we created especially with love and passion for China and all the people around the world who love Dolce & Gabbana.”

But for many, this explanation was not enough. In an Instagram post tagging both the brand and Gabbana directly, Chinese-French model Estelle Chen, who withdrew from the show, doubted the sincerity of the explanation and called the actions “disrespectful and racist.”

“You don’t love China, you love money,” she wrote. “China is rich yes but China is rich in its values, its culture and its people and they won’t spend a penny on a brand that does not respect that.”

Other models and staff from the event responded by posting images of their event badges with “not me” written in red capital letters.

An agent of singer Karry Wang, a Dolce & Gabbana “brand ambassador,” confirmed that the star would not be attending the show.

The modeling agency China Bentley also announced that 24 of its models were pulling out over the controversy.

There were however some segments of Chinese social media which reacted in good humour to the controversy.

One of them was a parody video featuring a Caucasian man attempting to eat soup with a knife which was widely circulated on Weibo.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana had wanted to present an entirely new ready-to-wear collection consisting of over 100 looks, featuring the label’s signature expertise spiced up by forays into Chinese culture.

The mega show was to be centered around three themes: Dolce & Gabbana’s design DNA, the future and the millennial generation, and the Chinese.

China is one of Dolce & Gabbana’s main markets, with 44 monobrand retail outlets in total, between stores, corners and shop-in-shops.

Eight of them are located in Shanghai.

Dolce & Gabbana are no strangers to controversy, in 2015 infamously branding babies born using IVF as “chemistry children and synthetic children.”

While this June, Gabbana again got into hot water by body shaming Selena Gomez on Instagram, writing “E propio brutta!!!” meaning “She is really ugly!!!!” in English.

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