From a much-anticipated fashion show to a much-anticipated cancellation, Italian fashion brand Dolce and Gabbana only took four days to turn the Chinese market off, due to a controversy over what many view as a racist ad campaign.
The brand's latest "DG Loves China" online marketing ads have come under fire for trivializing China's centuries-old culture and depicting Chinese women in a stereotypical and even racist way.
On Nov 18, D&G published a post on Chinese social media platform Weibo to promote its upcoming runway show in Shanghai, showing a Chinese woman being told how to use chopsticks.
In the video, the woman seems to be struggling to eat Italian food like pasta, pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks, while a male voiceover asks the woman, "Is it too huge for you?"
The posts have been accused of leaning heavily on Chinese stereotypes, causing heated discussion on social media platforms both at home and abroad.
"Dolce and Gabbana, please get out of my country. Most Chinese people are sick of wearing the brand's clothes," said Chinese Weibo user Dong Xiaodong1990.
"Some foreign luxury brands like Dolce and Gabbana are really two-sided. They want to make money in China and win the favour of the Chinese market on one hand, while still annoying them," added another Weibo user fashion-bangers.
A Chinese netizen has exposed several dialogues with the brand's designer and co-founder Stefano Gabbana, making the situation worse. Based on screenshots posted by the online user, the designer used expletives to describe China, and expressed his determination he would never cancel the offending post.
To no one's surprise, the screenshots went viral. Later, the official account of D&G claimed on Instagram the designer's personal account had been "hacked". The designer said his legal office was working on the issue, claiming he "loves China and Chinese culture" and is "sorry for what happened."
Most Chinese netizens did not buy this "sincere apology", dismissing the statements of regret as the result of compromise.
Quite a few Chinese celebrities including Zhang Ziyi, Li Bingbing, Wang Junkai and Chen Kun had confirmed their absence from the brand's "The Great Show" fashion show before the brand announced cancellation officially.
The brand's China ambassador Dilraba Dilmurat has deleted all posts related to the brand and said on Weibo, "I love you, my dearest country, China."
This is not the first time the fashion circle has attracted controversy. Last year, popular model Gigi Hadid was pulled out of the Victoria's Secret fashion show in Shanghai after she caused offence by impersonating the Buddha and mocking Asians in an Instagram video.
After the controversy, the model wrote on social media: "It hurts me to hurt anyone, and I want you all to know that it was never my intent to offend anyone through my actions and I sincerely apologise to those who were hurt or felt let down by me."