International fashion brand, Dolce & Gabbana has been forced to cancel its biggest fashion event of the year in China after Chinese celebrities and models deserted the brand following a controversial advertising campaign and an alleged racist outburst by one of its founders.
The controversy sparked after the brand uploaded three (3) videos to its social media accounts. In the videos an Asian model dressed in the brand’s clothes giggles as she attempts to use chopsticks to eat three types of Italian food – a cannoli, pizza and spaghetti.
In the videos, a narrator can be heard asking questions in Chinese translated as: “It’s still way too big for you, isn’t it?”
There was immediate backlash about the videos on the brands Instagram and Weibo social media accounts and the videos were criticized as culturally insensitive, racist and sexist. Various people posted comments that said that the brand was “Crass, Racist and Condescending!” Others said that the ads: “mocks Chinese women” and “stereotype them culturally and sexually”. There were calls for a public apology and boycott of the controversial brand as outrage grew.
Celebrities, including movie star Chen Kun and D&G “Brand Ambassadors” actress Dilireba and singer Karry Wang cancelled their plans to attend the event and models from modeling agency China Bentley who were scheduled to participate in the Shanghai event also refused to attend. Supermodel Jin Dachuan said he would not take part in the show or any staged by the brand in the future.
|To see the series of three (3) ads at the center of the controversy, click above|
The accusations of racism increased after Instagram user “Diet Prada” shared a post from Stefano Gabbana’s Instagram account where he defended the advertising campaign and the upcoming show and described China as “a country of shits.”
The designer later claimed he was hacked on Instagram, writing in bold red: “Not me” on a screenshot of the conversation and captioning it: “My Instagram account has been hacked. My legal office is working on this.” Gabbana said in another post that: “I love China and the Chinese Culture. I’m so sorry for what happened.”
The official Dolce & Gabbana Instagram account also posted a message that reiterated the claim that the design duo had been hacked. The post said that: “We are very sorry for any distress caused by these unauthorized posts. We have nothing but respect for China and the people of China.”
Later in the day, Dolce & Gabbana announced the show had been postponed on its official Weibo account, after online rumors said that Cultural Affairs Bureau of Shanghai had ordered the show cancelled. A media statement fro D&G said: "The Great Show won't happen tonight. For the moment, please consider this event as suspended until further notice from Dolce & Gabbana."