There’s just a lot happening at Dolce & Gabbana right now. I don’t know if it’s because mercury is in retrograde, but the damage control needed to clear the latest episode of D&G drama will probably cost as much as the Great Show itself. If you don’t know what’s been going on in the past few hours, let me bring you up to speed.
Dolce and Gabbana has been preparing for their latest runway show, The Great Show, which was slated for Wednesday November 21st to be held at the Shanghai Expo Centre in China, with a live stream on their Youtube channel. The official show hashtags #DGLovesChina and #DGTheGreatShow have been getting a lot of traction in the past few days after Dolce and Gabbana released a mini-series on their Instagram in promotion for their Shanghai show.
The short clips depict a Chinese model eating various traditional Italian foods with chopsticks. These sparked controversy within the community, with users going in, in the comments for the implied racism exhibited in the videos. Many commented on the lack of respect and the skewed perception of Chinese people, as the type face they used to write “Shanghai” in Chinese characters is actually in the Japanese way of writing the phrase. Additionally, the Chinese model was prompted to use chopsticks to try and eat a Margherita pizza and a cannoli, both of which are generally finger foods, making the model seem somewhat aloof as she attempted to pick up the food with chopsticks, while a man narrated each scene in Chinese. The translated transcript of the cannoli scene in particular included a lot of innuendos in regards to the size of the cannoli, which was deemed distasteful to viewers who caught it out.
In response to the criticism, screenshots of an alleged conversation between Stefano and an angry fashion enthusiast surfaced, including commentary by Stefano of the old wife’s tale that Chinese people eat dogs, in an attempt to retort the racist accusations of his campaign videos. He finished the conversation by saying from now on he will now refer to China in an ill-mannered way in any interviews, or as directly quoted from the man himself, “China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia.”
The conversation was the kicker - quickly circulating through the cyber space as people became more aware of the dark sentiments allegedly expressed by the Italian designer. One of the biggest factors in it’s visibility should be credited to Diet Prada, who has their own independent thoughts on the subject. Dolce and Gabbana released a statement on Instagram explaining that both the label’s account and Stefano’s personal account had been hacked and their legal office is currently investigating the matter. Many were left confused, but most continued to bring heat to the brand, also mentioning that Stefano still had an IG story up of the conversation he had even after he released a statement on his own account. Within hours, the #DGTheGreatShow was cancelled by the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Shanghai - a huge blow for Stefano and the entire team who tried to salvage what was left of the lead up to their show.
Though he isn’t a stranger to controversy, Stefano has been under fire in the past for other insensitivities and publicly making anti-LGBT remarks. Back in 2012, Dolce and Gabbana put up a policy in Hong Kong which forbade visitors from taking photos in and around their stores in an effort to protect their intellectual property. This didn’t sit well with the locals, as they quickly learned the terms of this ban was only for the Hong Kong people, and mainland Chinese as well as any other foreign tourists were excluded from this policy. Their flagship store on Canton Road was flooded with thousands of protestors - enraged with the policy and causing a boycott. Dolce and Gabbana later issued an apology for this and lifted the ban.
Whether you’re riled up about the entire situation, or just bearing witness to the fashion beef with an indifferent viewpoint on the subject, there’s a larger message that lies beneath all the drama. This is a fair warning to everyone about social media - some internal thoughts should just be left unsaid. Young people today are not afraid to rebel against dated expectations or to call out injustice. Today we’ve seen how much power these social media platforms can harness, and how people, by sheer numbers, can cause an old Italian luxury house to fall short - regardless of whether the allegations are true or not. Dolce & Gabbana has been making efforts to reach the millennial and Gen Z demographic and only time will tell whether their future initiatives can win back potential consumers who have already closed themselves off from the brand.