After headlining the season for the fashion industry, the much-anticipated Dolce & Gabbana multimillion-dollar runway show was abruptly cancelled. The fashion house had to take such extreme measures as the guests, designers, models and other fashion enthusiasts quietly announced their absence due to racist insults made by the designer Stefano Gabbana on Instagram.
In screenshots posted by Diet Prada, the Instagram account that calls out copied designs and garments, the verified account of Stefano Gabbana is witnessed making comments, “From now on in all the interview that I will do international I will say that the country of [series of poop emojis] is China” and “China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia,” among other insults.
This infuriated the country’s biggest names in fashion and entertainment who finally pulled out of the event. The VIP guest list started falling apart as the said screenshots spread like wildfire on social media. It started with actress Zhang Ziyi posting to her official Weibo account that, “Starting today, Miss Zhang and her team will not buy and use any D&G products.”
This was followed by cancellations from influencers and actors Li Bingbing, Chen Kun, Dilraba and girl band Rocket Girls 101. 24 of China Bentley Modelling agency refused to walk the ramps either as several of these models posted “not me” on top of their casting photos to show the respect for the motherland.
This incited a quick response from the fashion house claiming that the entire controversy stems out of the hacked accounts of both Stefano Gabbana and Dolce & Gabbana’s. The designer wrote on his account, “My Instagram account has been hacked. My legal office is working on this. I love China and the Chinese culture. I’m so sorry for what happened.”
The fashion house also reacted to the controversy by posting, “Our Instagram account has been hacked. So has 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.”
This does not answer the questions that arose about the brand’s campaign videos for the show in China, where they posted three sequential videos entitled “eating with chopsticks” that came off as racist to the Chinese population.
Even though it was removed from China’s social media platform Weibo, it remained the brand’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages. The controversial comments by Gabbana were in response to the criticism about the promotional videos.
China constitutes a huge market for the brand, as 7.6 million Chinese households will represent 1 trillion renminbi (Chinese currency) in global luxury sales as per reports by McKinsey. Thus, this setback will not only hamper the reputation for the fashion brand but it will also affect its business significantly.