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Headline of The Week: Dolce & Gabbana Courts Racist Controversy (Again)

By Sarah Moran 23 November 2018
Another day, another series of nauseating news. We get it, it’s difficult to keep up with all the information out there. Sometimes you watch the news and it feels like the world is spiralling out of control (kind of like a bad hangover) and you end up walking away from the TV with a banging headache. In the spirit of public enlightenment, we bring you our weekly fun news column, where we share the craziest headlines from the past week that you may have overlooked.

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A series of controversial videos and offensive Instagram messages has taken social media by storm, and led Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana (D&G) to cancel its fashion show in Shanghai. Not for the first time, the luxury brand has found itself in the centre of a messy controversy. It all started with a pair of chopsticks, Italian food, and three videos. To promote what was expected to be one of the biggest and most extravagant shows in history – #DGTheGreatShow – D&G posted a series of videos on its social media accounts (including Weibo) presenting an Asian lady in a red sequinned dress trying to eat Italian food with chopsticks. The model is shown attempting to eat an entire pizza, a bowl of spaghetti, and a cannoli with chopsticks. She prods and pokes her food cluelessly while a male narrator offers advice and comments such as, "don't attempt to use the chopsticks as knives" and "just use your chopsticks like pliers." What was perhaps an innocent attempt to play on Chinese culture, has infuriated social media users as the topic began trending on Weibo. Chinese netizens were furious at D&G's portrayal of Chinese people as lacking in refinement and culture to understand how to eat foreign food. And if the marketing campaign wasn't already on the road to crash and burn, remarks from Stefano Gabbana's (the brand's co-founder) in a private Instagram message poured gasoline all over the flames. As people started posting their reactions to D&G's videos on their Instagram stories, tagging both the brand and Stefano Gabbana himself, one user – Michaela Tranova – seemed to get the attention of the designer himself. Although Stefano Gabbana, and the D&G brand, quickly issued statements saying the accounts had been hacked, it did little to calm the brewing social media storm. High-profile Chinese celebrities began to pull out of the D&G show in Shanghai en-masse, leading to the show's cancellation just hours before it was supposed to begin. This gaffe isn't the brand's first blunder in China, nor is it its only transgression worldwide. From controversial comments on IVF babies to offensive, stereotypical, ad campaign in Beijing, a photo ban in Hong Kong store igniting weeks of protests, advocating for the Trump presidency, and naming a product "slave sandals", D&G seem to evoke rage and fury on a regular basis. In fact, the brand is so used to the negative spotlight, they even launched #Boycott Dolce & Gabbana T-shirts in a seemingly mocking statement. But even though co-founders Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have personally released an apology video on Weibo, this time, the public don't seem to be buying it. Chinese e-commerce sites such as Alibaba, Yoox, and Net-a-Porter, have been dropping Dolce & Gabbana products like its hot, while parody videos of the D&G ads have been popping up all over social media, and Chinese citizens all over the world are calling for people to boycott the brand.
Read More! Learn some Cantonse slang, or explore the rest of our Culture section.

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Sarah Moran

Staff writer

Born and raised in Hong Kong to expat parents, Sarah grew up as your typical third-culture kid, caught between two worlds. As someone who is nosy (or just curious) and loves the written word, there was never any other career that appealed to her as much as journalism. When she’s not busy on her mission to find the line between not enough coffee and too much coffee, you can find her exploring the city or getting stuck in a good book.