D&G's show cancelled due to alleged racist founder

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, November 22, 2018
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An empty Dolce & Gabbana store in Shanghai after the scandal of alleged insults toward China from Stefano Gabbana broke the internet, Nov. 21, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

A star-studded Dolce & Gabbana (D&G) fashion show was cancelled just hours before it was supposed to open on Wednesday night due to an unprecedented internet storm concerning racist and derogatory statements against China by Stefano Gabbana, co-founder of the luxury fashion house.

The debacle started a few days ago when the D&G campaign released a series of controversial videos on social media to promote the event. The videos show an Asian model in outdated attire struggling to eat Italian food with chopsticks while a narrator offers patronizing advice including "just use your chopsticks like pliers," "don't attempt to use the chopsticks as knives" and mocks the Chinese mispronunciation of the brand's name.

Screenshots of a series of controversial videos released by Dolce & Gabbana to promote their show in Shanghai. [File photo/China.org.cn]

Michaela Phuong Thanh Tranova, a young Asian model and business student in London under the account name "michaelatranova", messaged the personal account of Stefano Gabbana on Instagram regarding the distastefulness and racism of the videos. They seemed to engage in a heated debate and exchanged insulting messages, in which Gabbana allegedly attacked China.

The promotional videos were later deleted from Chinese social media, Gabbana allegedly pointed out the videos were "deleted from Chinese social media because my office is as stupid as the superiority of the Chinese."

"From now on, in all the interviews that I will do international [sic] I will say that the country of [five emojis of poop] is China... and you are also quiet that we live very well without you [emoji of heart]," Gabbana allegedly said, adding, "China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia [sic]."

Screenshots of alleged exchanges between Michaela Phuong Thanh Tranova, a business student in London, and Stefano Gabbana, co-founder of Dolce & Gabbana, on Instagram, in which, Gabbana allegedly attacked China. [File photo/China.org.cn]

The screenshots of the exchanges were later posted by Tranova, and then went on to be shared on China's major social networks such as Weibo. The alleged attack on China soon became the number one trending topic and among the most popular hashtags with hundreds of millions of views and discussions. 

As the storm continued to evolve, China's most famous celebrities invited to the show, including Zhang Ziyi, Li Bingbing, Chen Kun, Huang Xiaoming, TFBoys, Rocket Girls 101, Huo Siyan and Jin Dachuan all posted statements that they would not attend the show, while D&G's China ambassadors Karry Wang and Dilraba Dilmurat not only cancelled their appearances on the show but also ended their contracts with D&G.

Stefano Gabbana at the Dolce & Gabbana Sun in a London Night Fashion Show at Harrods in London, England, Nov. 2, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

Actress Zhang Ziyi even posted a mock cartoon image showing how to put poop back in D&G's mouth and added she and her team would never buy or use products from D&G, a move echoed by many celebrities and internet users.

D&G tried to save their Titanic from sinking by issuing a statement on Weibo that their Instagram account had been hacked, "Dolce & Gabbana's official Instagram account has been hacked. So has the account of Stefano Gabbana. Our legal office is urgently investigating. We are sorry for any bad influence and hurt caused by these false remarks. We have nothing but love and respect for China and the Chinese culture." Gabbana himself also posted the controversial screenshots on his Instagram with two words added to the images, "NOT ME."

A photo shows a crane dismantling the logo of The Great Show by Dolce & Gabbana after the fashion house cancels the show due to controversy, in Shanghai, Nov. 21, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

However, Chinese internet users didn't buy it and regarded the statements as unconvincing excuses, given Gabbana's previous controversial remarks and moves including badmouthing Selena Gomez as "ugly," offending Elton John on gay adoption and in vitro fertilization, putting out offensive designs and products like Slave Sandal and earring and fabric prints closely resembled imagery associated with the Mammy archetype.

At 4:48 p.m., D&G announced on its Weibo account that The Great Show was cancelled and would be rescheduled for another day, after a majority of the Chinese collaborators and Chinese models walked out of the venue.

A photo shows the backstage mess of The Great Show by Dolce & Gabbana after the fashion house cancels the show due to controversy, Shanghai, Nov. 21, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

This very well might be the biggest disaster in the fashion history. The event was scheduled to include as many as 1,500 guests, 360 models and 40 celebrities, as well as global media, fashion bloggers and VIP customers from around the world. The event was supposed to showcase 500 designs at 1,600 sets on the venue ground of 18,700 square meters. It was boasted to be the biggest, not only in the brand's history, but also the biggest event among all foreign fashion houses in China. 

"Our dream was to bring 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 love Dolce & Gabbana," Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana released another statement on Thursday morning after the cancellation.

A photo shows the empty stage of The Great Show by Dolce & Gabbana, constructed a week ago for the event, after the fashion house cancels the show due to controversy, Shanghai, Nov. 21, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

However, this supposed tribute to China, costing millions of dollars and efforts and preparations by hundreds of models and collaborators, to please Chinese customers and expand the brand's market, is now gone.

This is not the first time the fashion house has faced controversy in China. In April 2017, D&G released a series of photos which put models in fancy D&G dresses together with shabbily dressed ordinary Chinese people at some of China's landmarks. In January 2012, D&G issued a photo ban in Hong Kong, preventing Hong Kong people from taking pictures of D&G window displays in Hong Kong stores, stirring large protests.

A photo shows Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi posing with designers and founders of Dolce & Gabbana, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana at a show in Beijing, April 21, 2018. Zhang was supposed to attend the show in Shanghai on Nov. 21, 2018 but boycotted the show and Dolce & Gabbana after the scandal of alleged insults toward China from Stefano Gabbana broke the internet. [Photo/VCG]

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