Dolce & Gabbana has cancelled its Shanghai fashion show amid accusations of racism over its latest ad campaign.
The Italian fashion house also had to apologise for posts on its Instagram account written in response to #DGLovesChina.
The brand said its and co-founder Stefano Gabbana’s accounts were hacked and used to criticise Chinese people.
“We have nothing but respect for China and the people of China,” the apology message read.
Gabbana also apologised, posting a screenshot on Instagram of offensive messages he claims were sent by a hacker abusing his account.
But a string of Chinese celebrities have now said they’ll boycott the fashion chain, while many of the models booked to take part in the show said they had pulled out.
D&G posted three videos this week of a Chinese model eating Italian foods like pizza and pasta with chopsticks.
These videos are available to view on Instagram but were taken down from Chinese social media network Weibo less than 24 hours after they were posted.
According to digital publication Jing Daily, which covers luxury consumer trends in China, the videos made “big mistakes in tone and taste”.
It said the campaign had been criticised for “trivialising China’s centuries-old culture and depicting Chinese women in a stereotypical and even racist way” by users on social media.
The use of split-up chopsticks was also criticised for being improper and disrespectful.
“Boycott Dolce” has also been discussed on Weibo more than 18,000 times, according to Jing Daily.
D&G is yet to apologise for the campaign, which was to have been accompanied by a catwalk show in Shanghai on Wednesday.
Yet they have expressed regret that the event has now been cancelled, describing it as “something that we created especially with love and passion for China.”
“Our dream was to bring to Shanghai a tribute event dedicated to China which tells our history and vision,” they wrote in a statement.
“What happened today was very unfortunate not only for us, but also for all the people who worked day and night to bring this event to life.”
The website Business of Fashion said the decision to cancel the show had been taken by Chinese authorities.
A number of high-profile Chinese celebrities had also announced they would not attend.
“I love my mother country,” actress Li Bingbing told her 42 million fans.
“Our mother country is more important than anything,” said the management of Wang Junkai, a singer in boy band TFBoys, who also withdrew.
Actor Talu Wang wrote on Weibo: “Respect is more important than anything.”
This isn’t the first time the high-end brand has been accused of racism towards China.
Last April they posted a campaign on Weibo that showed impoverished people in run-down areas of Beijing pictured with D&G models ahead of a catwalk show in the city.
The pictures were criticised for stereotyping Chinese history by showing old parts of the city, rather than more modern depictions of Beijing.
D&G also caused controversy in 2016 when it called an item of footwear in its spring/summer collection a “slave sandal“.