Dolce & Gabbana call off Shanghai runway show in major internet fiasco
The house of Dolce & Gabbana called off a giant Shanghai runway show on Wednesday evening in a major public relations fiasco 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 as 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.
While on @stefanogabbana, the designer’s personal account with 1.5 million followers, the opening posting read Not Me in red, over what he claims was a hacked false statement. That read: “And from now on in all interviews that I will do international I will say that the country of [a series of poop emojis] is China and you are also quiet that we live very well without you.”
Comments beside Gabbana’s post, however, were almost all highly critical: “I can’t believe that in 2018, there is still a company as stupid as DG…” “GABBANA? More like GARBAGE.” “Dead&Gone.” “It is 2018, even senior school kids know that never use these kinds of excuse again now.”
Neither Gabbana, nor the house’s communications department responded to requests for comment. And the two designers' whereabouts remained unclear.
During their stay in China, the Milan duo posted a series of videos entitled Dolce & Gabbana Chopstick Eating; one of which showed an Asian model in red sequin dress eating a Sicilian cannoli desert with chopsticks, backed by an instructional commentary in Chinese, with English subtitles.
These videos ignited an Internet maelstrom, as the brand was roundly criticized on social media for what were widely seen in China as videos mocking Chinese culture. Instead of being interpreted as a witty repartee, there were seen as a daft parody and inane mocking of modern-day China, in a public relations disaster for the brand.
Dolce & Gabbana have since taken down the videos, though they can be seen on the Instagram account of @diet_prada.
Once again, the posting met with hugely negative responses: “So much stereotype & a complete parody of Chinese culture. What the hell was the video production team thinking????” “Unbelievable. Another case history of how not to handle the China/Asian market.”
The designers have been in China this past week, prepping for the show, as their Instagram account indicates, with multiple photos of seamstresses finishing Fatto a Mano handmade dresses; shots of the designers with a stuffed panda doll; and even a video of the D&G logo with a large red heart projected 10-stories high on a Shanghai skyscraper.
The Italian fashion house had planned a mammoth show inside the Expo Centre in the city’s Pudong district, overlooking the Huangpu river. “It is the biggest production of its kind to be staged in the country this year,” the house had predicted.
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.
However, receiving a torrent of negative abuse on social media, especially on Weibo, would appear to be a step too far.
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