On November 21 in Shanghai’s Expo Center, Dolce & Gabbana was scheduled to hold “The Great Show,” an extravaganza of music, dance, and a new ready-to-wear, Chinese-influenced collection. As of Wednesday afternoon, organizers said the show has been postponed to an unspecified date.
The announcement followed an outpouring of online vitriol over allegedly racist promotional videos. As a result eight of China’s biggest e-commerce platforms, including Alibaba’s Tmall, JD.com, and Suning Yigou, have taken official branded Dolce & Gabbana merchandise offline. As of Thursday morning Amazon China, however, still had D&G goods available.
Three short clips on D&G’s official Instagram account show a giggly Asian model digging into spaghetti, pizza, and a massive cannoli using only a pair of chopsticks. A voiceover purportedly gives instructions on how to eat each food item in Chinese, with the occasional “bravissimo” thrown in.
Part of the ensuing uproar was directed at Stefano Gabbana, who Instagram user @MichaelaTranova claims participated in an ugly personal debate with her after she accused D&G of racism. In screenshots she uploaded online, Gabbana appears to shrug off her criticisms.
Then, in an apparent attempt at a counterexample-slash-racial dig, he brings up some countries’ practice of eating dog meat. (From pictures posted on Instagram, Tranova appears to be of Asian descent.)
Gabbana’s Instagram has since released a denial of Tranova’s claims, claiming that his account was hacked. But judging from a series of insulting comments, angry Chinese netizens aren’t buying it.
Image credit: @StefanoGabbana/Instagram
Instagram account @Diet_Prada also played a large part in fanning the flames. On Tuesday, the Shanghai-based account reposted D&G’s cannoli video with a caption that begins, “#DGlovesChina ? More like #DGdesperateforthatChineseRMB lol.”
It continues in the same vein: “Pandering at it’s finest, but taken up a notch by painting their target demographic as a tired and false stereotype…” As of Wednesday evening, the post had racked up over 170,000 views.
The three offending videos can no longer be found on D&G’s official Weibo account, although they’re viewable on Instagram.
At 12:30am, 9am, and 12pm Wednesday, D&G’s Weibo also posted three new videos in a row with the hashtag #DGLovesChina. Each shows several Asian models sporting D&G’s signature gaudy style, centered around three themes: DNA, Future, and Chinese New Year.
This article has been updated to reflect information on the actions taken by some e-commerce companies in China.