SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) – She and her family had traveled to Shanghai, excited for her opportunity to walk the runway for an international fashion house, representing Singapore for the first time.
Local socialite Chloe Ng, however, was left disappointed when the show at the Shanghai New International Expo Center was canceled at the last minute.
International fashion house Dolce & Gabbana (D & G) called off its Nov 21 fashion show, said to be the brand's biggest show in its 33-year history, amid a row over alleged racist remarks by one of the designers, Mr Stefano Gabbana.
Celebrities and brands from China have also declared a boycott of D & G, including actress Zhang Ziyi and Chinese e-commerce firm Yangmatou.
The controversy was sparked by videos posted by the brand on Instagram, first posted on Nov 17, depicting a Chinese model in a red D & G dress struggling to eat Italian food such as pizza and cannoli with chopsticks.
The narrator asks: "Is it too big for you?"
The campaign, to publicize the fashion show, was deemed racist and insensitive by many on social media. The matter was compounded by subsequent racist comments allegedly made by Mr Gabbana via Instagram messages to netizens.
Among other things, the designer allegedly called the Chinese, "China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia".
D & G later said in an apology posted in Chinese on Weibo that Gabbana's Instagram account had been hacked.
"We are sorry for the impact and harm these untrue remarks have had on China and the Chinese people," it said.
Ms Ng, 22, told The New Paper from Shanghai on Thursday (Nov 22) that while she thought the campaign videos themselves could have been an honest mistake, she was shocked by Mr Gabbana's alleged comments.
She said: "That was really racist. It makes its Chinese customers feel like the brand just wants their money and this is what it really thinks of the Chinese."
According to Icon magazine, Ms Ng would have been the first guest to represent Singapore at a D & G show.
It reported that the show was canceled at about 3.30pm, six hours before the start.
Ms Ng said: "It is such a pity, it would have been a great opportunity for many of us, who have never had our countries represented, to represent our countries at such a large show."
She said the fashion house's other designer, Mr Domenico Dolce, had been dedicated to the show, taking time to work with every person walking the show.
She said: "It is such a pity to see all their hard work wasted just because of some stupid comments made (by Mr Gabbana). The irony is that the show was meant to be a tribute to China."
Ms Ng said the cancellation happened quickly, and some were not even told of it.
"People just started leaving, and a lot of them (people who were supposed to walk the show) just started leaving," she said.
"… There was no point in continuing with the show."