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.
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.
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!"