Dolce & Gabbana's "The Great Show", which was due to take place on Wednesday 21 November in Shanghai, China has now been postponed since the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Shanghai cancelled it on its originally scheduled date, as a result of three 40-second Instagram videos that sparked controversy.
The Italian luxury brand's controversial videos in question show an Asian model attempting to eat Italian cuisine with chopsticks, while "typically" Chinese music plays in the background, essentially perpetuating cultural and racial stereotypes under the guise of celebrating and appealing to the highly sought after Asian consumers.
READ MORE: Kimonos: Appreciation or appropriation?
The tone deaf videos which were posted on D&G's Instagram account, also appeared on their Twitter, Facebook, and Weibo accounts in China, but have since been deleted from their social media accounts in China.
Instagram's fashion knockoff whistle-blower Diet Prada has been quick to call the luxury design duo out on their offense.
In a repost of one of the "chopstick eating series" videos, part of their captioned critique reads, "Pandering at it's finest, but taken up a notch by painting their target demographic as a tired and false stereotype of a people lacking refinement/culture to understand how to eat foreign foods and an over-the-top embellishment of cliché ambient music, comical pronunciations of foreign names/words, and Chinese subtitles (English added by us), which begs the question—who is this video actually for?"
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#DGlovesChina ? More like #DGdesperateforthatChineseRMB lol. In a bid to further appeal to luxury's covetable Chinese consumers, @dolcegabbana released some hella offensive “instructional” videos on the usage of chopsticks. Pandering at it's finest, but taken up a notch by painting their target demographic as a tired and false stereotype of a people lacking refinement/culture to understand how to eat foreign foods and an over-the-top embellishment of cliché ambient music, comical pronunciations of foreign names/words, and Chinese subtitles (English added by us), which begs the question—who is this video actually for? It attempts to target China, but instead mocks them with a parodied vision of what modern China is not...a gag for amusement. Dolce & Gabbana have already removed the videos from their Chinese social media channels, but not Instagram. Stefano Gabbana has been on a much-needed social media cleanse (up until November 2nd), so maybe he kept himself busy by meddling with the marketing department for this series. Who wants to bet the XL cannoli “size” innuendos were his idea? Lmao. • #dolceandgabbana #altamoda #rtw #dgmillennials #stefanogabbana #shanghai #chinese #italian #cannoli #meme #wtf #dumb #lame #chopsticks #foodie #tutorial #cuisine #italianfood #asianmodel #asian #chinesefood #dietprada
This account then leaked direct messages between a 'Dieter' (Diet Prada team member) and D&G co-founder - an unapologetic Stefano Gabbana:
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As @dolcegabbana prepares to mount their next runway show in Shanghai this coming evening (7:30PM) and the rest of Instagram fawns over what’s sure to be an overly lavish “love letter” to China, we’ll be wondering if we’ll see chopsticks as hair ornaments, take-out boxes as purses, or even kimonos misappropriated as Chinese costume. Time will tell. For now, we’ll let y’all simmer on this DM between Stefano and Dieter @michaelatranova (chronology is reversed in slides). Word has it that they’re still in the process of model casting (over 200 Asian girls scheduled)...wouldn’t let them walk the show if we were their agents lol. Also, curious what the Chinese government will think of their country being called shit basically...especially considering how strict they are on who to allow to enter the country on work visas based on a thorough social media background checks. • #DGTheGreatShow #DGlovesChina #runway #fashionshow #cancelled #racism #dolceandgabbana #altamoda #rtw #dgmillennials #stefanogabbana #shanghai #chinese #china #wtf #dumb #lame #asianmodel #asian #dietprada
However, Gabbana's post on his personal Instagram states otherwise, claiming the account was hacked.
According to CNN, the luxury brand has issued an official statement to the press:
"Our dream was to bring to Shanghai a tribute event dedicated to China which tells our history and vision. 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 loves Dolce & Gabbana."
But celebrity guests and a few models are not buying it, as a few of them had already declined to attend by the time the postponement was announced, CNN reports. Skeptical about the apology, Chinese-French model Estelle Wong, withdrew from the show, responding to the statement as follows: "You don't love China, you love money. 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."
This is not the first time Dolce & Gabbana has come under fire for being problematic. In 2016, the designers faced backlash over their "slave sandal", and in 2017 a pair of Fall '17 sneakers was not received well due to its fat-shaming connotations. Both times, a flippant response was given and then an apology statement later issued.
This begs the question, is Dolce & Gabbana employing this new marketing tool where brands deliberately offend in order to spark outrage, thereby drawing lucrative attention to themselves? Perhaps. Or maybe they're living up to fashion's lesser desirable trait; ignorance.
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