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21 Nov, 2018 15:48

Pizza and chopsticks: D&G catwalk show in China cancelled after ‘racist ad’ outcry

Pizza and chopsticks: D&G catwalk show in China cancelled after ‘racist ad’ outcry

A Dolce & Gabbana fashion show which was due to take place this week in Shanghai has been cancelled after the brand faced uproar over a “racist” ad which seemed to mock Chinese culture.

The high fashion brand found itself facing claims of racism for producing the ad, which features an Asian model attempting unsuccessfully to eat traditional Italian food with chopsticks.


The offending ad, which was posted to D&G’s Instagram account in three parts, shows the Chinese woman wearing the brand’s clothing and nervously laughing while trying to use chopsticks to eat pizza, spaghetti and a large cannoli. A male voiceover repeatedly suggests that the cannoli is “too big” for her to handle, prompting one Instagram commenter to write that the “offensive sexual innuendos are blatant.”

The Italian brand was intending to humorously promote its new ‘D&G Loves China’ campaign, but judging by the swift critical reaction on social media, its efforts did not go down well, resulting in the cancellation of the upcoming catwalk show as the #BoycottDolce hashtag took off.

Matters had been made worse when the official Instagram accounts for Dolce & Gabbana and frontman Stefano Gabbana himself posted derogatory comments about Chinese culture on Wednesday – the day the catwalk show was scheduled to take place. Business of Fashion reported that the show was cancelled after pressure from local government authorities, but that was not confirmed.

D&G claimed in an Instagram post that the offensive comments posted by the two accounts were the result of a hack. It later released a statement on Twitter, writing that the cancellation of the show was "very unfortunate" and that the brand had tried to create something "with love and passion for China" – but did not apologize directly for the offensive ad itself, which remains published on its official Instagram page.

Diet Prada, an Instagram account which regularly highlights issues with top brands posted about the D&G ad, which they said painted the company’s target Chinese demographic “as a tired and false stereotype of people lacking refinement/culture to understand how to eat foreign foods.”

Chinese website Jing Daily, which writes about luxury consumer trends in China, said that as more Western brands were attempting to market themselves in China, “big mistakes in tone and taste are being made,” adding that the brand seemed to be “trivializing China’s centuries-old culture and depicting Chinese women in a stereotypical and even racist way.”

Hundreds of social media users blasted the company for the ad, with one writing “as a Chinese citizen and a loyal customer for years, this video is ridiculously offensive. It's taking stereotype and ignorance to the next level.”

Another wrote: “I’m pretty sure Chinese know not to eat pizza or cannolo with chopsticks,” adding that the ad was “nothing but mockery against the Chinese tradition.”

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