Within the past 24 hours, Italian fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana has once again landed in hot water for what many have deemed culturally insensitive attitudes. As the label prepared to mount a lavish resort 2019 presentation in Shanghai, their social media accounts posted a promotional video depicting an Asian woman struggling to eat Italian food as a part of their "DG Loves China" campaign. In the video, which has been said to "disrespect the Asian female," the model uses chopsticks to eat items like a cannoli and a slice of pizza while a male narrator asks "is it too huge for you?" Shocked? You're not alone; the post raised endless eyebrows, causing the label to delete it from China's social media platform Weibo, but the controversy was only beginning to brew.
Shortly after, screen caps of a subsequent direct message conversation, allegedly between Stefano Gabbana -- historically, more outspoken than his design partner Domenico Dolce -- and fashion writer Michaela Phuong were sent to @dietprada, an account known for calling out the fashion industry for everything from design duplicates to social injustices. Throughout the screenshots, long held, deeply racist ideas about the Chinese community are engaged, in what appear to be messages from Gabbana. Since these images have been made public, the company has described them as the result of a hack. Hack or not, one thing was for sure: many involved in the presentation were not having it.
Quickly models slated to walk -- as well as often-contracted celebrities and influencers invited to attend--began pulling out of the show. Within less than a day the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Shanghai reportedly forced the company to cancel the show, which would have been its first in the largest of China's cities. No strangers to controversy, this marks the latest (and hopefully the lesson-teaching last?) in a string of Dolce and Gabbana offense-incurring snafus:
Canton Road Photo Ban - In January 2012, Dolce and Gabbana ban's on local shoppers taking photos within or outside of its Canton Road store in Hong Kong spurred protests that resulted in a temporary closure of the store. Protestors took issue with the stipulation that foreign visitors and those from mainland China were exempt with the ban and the label subsequently issued an apology.
Blackamoor Imagery- That following September, the brand's Spring 2013 collection was criticized for its inclusion of Blackamoor imagery -- racially charged imagery of that is based on caricatures of the black body. Included as prints on dresses as well as earrings, the depictions were described as "elements of traditional Sicilian culture" by the label.
Gay Parenting - In 2015 the Domenico and Stefano came out against same sex parenting. "We oppose gay adoptions," they said in an interview. "The only family is the traditional one." Many, including Elton John, a longtime friend of the brand, called for an apology. Both designers have since apologized with Domenico telling Vogue, "I've realized that my words were inappropriate," and the following year, in a seeming act of contrition, the label produced an assortment of family-themed novelty tees, depicting a range of parental pairings.
Melania Trump Endorsement - In June of 2017 Stefano Gabbana drew criticisms for the label's impassioned support of First Lady Melania Trump. In addition to dressing her, Stefano went so far as to call her a #DGWOMAN, undaunted by public outcry.
Selena Gomez Cyber Bullying - In March of 2018 Stefano called Selena Gomez "ugly" in the comment section of The Catwalk Italia's Instagram feed. Fans hit back, rightfully calling the comments "cyberbullying." The designer would go on to mock the characterization.
Japanese Succession Comment- In April of 2018 Stefano Gabanna told with Reuters that "I don't want a Japanese designer to design for Dolce & Gabbana" regarding succession plans for the brand, prompting accusations of racism on the part of the label. The company has yet to respond.
When it is all said and done, upon realizing that certain public-facing figureheads remain prone to saying all the wrong things at all the wrong times, perhaps D & G should consider hiring an Olivia-Pope-style crisis-fixer. Or simply put, "take her phone, please!"