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Italian fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana is facing a huge PR dilemma after a tone-deaf advertisement was published to social media, mated to leaked discriminatory messages from co-founder Stefano Gabbana.
Let’s start with the ad.
On Sunday, the brand published the first of a series of #DGLovesChina marketing clips to Instagram. The clip was part of the fashion company’s build up to “The Great Show”, an extravaganza featuring some of China’s top personalities and models.
The ad, which took the form of a short Instagram video, aimed to meld Italian and Chinese culture, but largely represented the latter as basic.
“Welcome to Episode 1 with Dolce&Gabbana’s ‘Eating with Chopsticks’. First up today is how to use this stick shaped cutlery to eat your GREAT traditional Pizza Margherita,” read the video description.
And in the clip, an overly-expressive Chinese woman attempts to eat a pizza with these utensils. It didn’t go down well.
“Shanghai in 2018 looks like old society before 1949. The girl in the video probably has learning disabilities… what a ‘wonderful’ interpret [sic] about Chinese women and culture! Shame on this brand,” wrote one commenter.
The clip was erased from the brand’s Weibo account, a social network with a huge following in China.
Following criticism of the clip and the deletion, messages sent by Stefano Gabbana to fashion writer Michaela Phuong were leaked to Instagram by unofficial fashion watchdog Diet Prada.
View this post on Instagram
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
The screenshots suggest Gabbana had plenty to say about the advertisements and his company’s response.
Not only does the designer call his office “stupid” for deleting the post from Weibo, he also labels China a “country of shit”.
“China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia,” he adds, because apparently the earlier insult just wasn’t enough.
The post went viral, gaining moire than 45 000 likes and 3500 comments in a day. And as a result, Dolce & Gabbana were forced to cancel its show scheduled to take place in Shanghai on Thursday evening.
In a last ditch attempt to quell the raging PR fire, Dolce & Gabbana on Wednesday claimed that its official account, as well as Stefano Gabbana’s accounts, were hacked.
“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, comments and direct messages. We have nothing but respect for China and the people of China,” it wrote in a post.
View this post on Instagram
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, comments and direct messages. We have nothing but respect for China and the people of China. Dolce & Gabbana 的官方Intragram 账号和 Stefano Gabbana 的 Instagram 账号被盗，我们已经立即通过法律途径解决。我们为这些不实言论给中国和中国人民造成的影响和伤害道歉。我们对中国和中国文化始终一贯的热爱与尊重。
Followers were not buying it.
“Yea, right, my homework was also eaten by my dog,” penned one user.
Chinese brands have responded by pulling the brand from their shelves, including Alibaba’s Tmall, JD.com, and Yangmatou.
Feature image: screenshot, Dolce & Gabbana via Instagram