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Fashion in Hong Kong and China

Dolce & Gabbana cancels show in China after celebrities and models boycott over founder Stefano’s ‘racist online outburst’ and controversial ad campaign

  • Designer Stefano Gabbana says his Instagram account was hacked and apologised following screenshots of him apparently calling China ‘a country of s***’
  • That followed an ad campaign that featured a Chinese woman struggling to eat pizza, spaghetti and an oversized cannoli with chopsticks
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2018, 7:53pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 3:03pm

Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana has cancelled its biggest promotional event of the year in China after Chinese celebrities and models deserted the brand following an alleged racist outburst by one of its founders and a controversial advertising campaign.

The brightest lights in the fashion firmament were expected to attend The Great Show in Shanghai on Wednesday night but the event was called off earlier in the day after an Instagram user called “diet prada” posted a screenshot of an online conversation from the Instagram account of designer Stefano Gabbana in which China was described as “a country of s***”.

The online conversation appeared to be in response to complaints that the fashion powerhouse’s latest campaign “DG Loves China” was racist. The campaign had come under fire for showing a Chinese woman in a red D&G dress trying to use chopsticks to eat pizza, spaghetti and a giant version of the Italian pastry cannoli.

Gabbana said his Instagram account had been hacked and he was sorry for what happened. He said he loved China and Chinese culture.

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The company also issued an apology to “China and Chinese people”, but it was not enough to save the event, as models refused to walk in the show and celebrities cancelled their appearances.

Among them was movie star Chen Kun, who arrived in Shanghai on Wednesday morning for the show only to announce later that he would not be going to the event.

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Actress Dilireba, who was appointed D&G’s ambassador in February, said on the Twitter-like Weibo service that she would not attend.

“I am proud of the best possible motherland. The motherland is above everything else!” she wrote.

Those sentiments were echoed by singer Karry Wang Junkai, another D&G ambassador.

“The motherland is above everything. We are deeply proud and confident about Chinese culture and spiritual aesthetics. No doubt you are the best!” Wang said in a statement.

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Actress Zhang Ziyi said the brand was “inviting humiliation”.

In a rare united protest, models also walked out.

Model agency Dongfang Binli said all of its 24 models had pulled out of the show and put a “Not Me” tag on their online profile photos in protest.

Supermodel Jin Dachuan said he would not take part in the show or any staged by the brand in the future.

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The Central Committee of the Communist Youth League demanded Dolce and Gabbana “respect Chinese people” as the basic principle of foreign enterprises investing in China.

The brand has ignited controversy in China before. Last year, the “DG loves China” promotional campaign featured models with taxi drivers, garbage collectors and street vendors, a view some internet users said deliberately showed the negative side of the country.