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In Case You Missed It, The Dolce & Gabbana China Racism Controversy In A Nutshell

Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana (D&G) is in hot soup, again, after their Chinese ad campaign was a drew sharp criticism for racism. The backlash escalated after designer and co-founder Stefano Gabbana allegedly made offensive comments about the Chinese culture while defending the campaign, in a series of Instagram private messages. Drama ensued, with many calling for a boycott of the brand.

It’s not the first time D&G found itself in the middle of controversy. In 2016, it described a new pair of gladiator sandals as “slave sandals”. In April 2017, it published a campaign on Weibo depicting Beijing as an underdeveloped city, which was deleted after complaints. Gabbana also outraged music fans when he called singer Selena Gomez “ugly” in an Instagram comment, while the other half of D&G, Domenico Dolce, once called children born through IVF “synthetic”.

Here’s a rundown of the latest controversy.

#1: It started with those videos

Photo: Screengrab from Dolce & Gabbana’s Twitter

Dolce & Gabbana sparked outcry after a campaign aimed at targeting the Chinese audience backfired in a monumental way. The videos, which were published on Weibo on Monday (Nov 19), showed a Chinese model — wearing way too much bling, in our opinion — struggling to use chopsticks to eat giant-sized portions of a pizza, a cannoli and spaghetti, while flanked by Chinese lanterns and couplets. The videos were meant to promote their show in Shanghai on Nov 21, and hashtags   and  were used, but that didn’t stop detractors from decrying that the videos were racist, stereotypical and outdated — with many Chinese people feeling that Dolce & Gabbana was making a mockery of their culture.

#2: That rant by 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

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After the controversy over the ad erupted, a series of screenshots from a conversation between co-founder Stefano Gabbana and fashion writer Michaela Phuong Thanh Tranova was released by Diet Prada, with the designer appearing to criticise China with derogatory comments in an attempt to defend the “Eating with Chopsticks” ad. He also lamented the fact that the videos had been deleted.

#3: Their Instagram accounts were… “hacked”?

The brand subsequently came out with statements saying that its account, as well as Stefano Gabbana’s, was “hacked”. “Our legal office is urgently investigating,” it said, and apologised for “any distress caused by these unauthorized posts, comments and direct messages”. It added: “We have nothing but respect for China and the people of China.” Gabbana also posted a statement denying that the statements came from him, saying: “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.”

Street style icon and fashion influencer Susie Lau (@susiebubble) is skeptical however, denouncing Gabbana’s latest remarks as part of a “botched up bad PR cover-up” in an Instagram post. Lamenting on the state of the fashion industry, she pointed out that many brands use the concept of inclusiveness as a form of marketing strategy, instead of truly being cultural sensitive and aware. “Question is when will the industry truly grow up and be AWAKE, instead of simply putting on a front of marketing-obtained wokeness,” she added. We’re in agreement, and not buying the explanation that the accounts were “hacked”.

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