Italian fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana canceled The Great Show in Shanghai hours before it was scheduled to get underway on Wednesday evening.
Before the cancellation, a long list of Chinese celebrities, including the company's brand ambassador in China, singer-actor Wang Junkai, announced they would not attend the show.
On Sunday, a short video was posted on Dolce & Gabbana's Instagram and Sina Weibo accounts, apparently intended to promote the upcoming Shanghai show.
In the clip, a female Asian model in a glitzy red Dolce & Gabbana dress uses chopsticks to eat pizza and other Italian foods.
Some Chinese netizens complained that the video was insensitive, in part because the model, with an unmistakably Chinese-looking face, appeared so awkward eating Western food with chopsticks.
Early Wednesday morning, in a chat on Instagram between a netizen named "michaelatranova" and someone using the personal account of Stefano Gabbana, one of the brand's co-founders, Gabbana allegedly made insulting references toward China and Chinese people.
Dolce & Gabbana posted an announcement on its Weibo account saying: "Our Instagram account has been hacked. So has the account of Stefano Gabbana. Our legal office is urgently investigating. We are sorry for any distress caused by these unauthorized posts. We have nothing but respect for China and the people of China".
As of press time the video was still accessible on Dolce & Gabbana's Instagram account, though it had been removed from the company's Weibo account.
Screenshots of the dialogue in question could still be seen on Weibo.
Indignation arose among Chinese netizens, with many calling on Wednesday for the show to be canceled. A-list celebrities such as Chen Kun, Huang Xiaoming and Li Bingbing, said they would not attend.
The brand did not give further details about the cancellation.
Some 1,500 guests had been invited to the show, including global media, fashion bloggers and VIP customers from around the world. The event was to be the biggest, not only in the brand's history, but larger than any other foreign competitors' previous shows in China, according to a Dolce & Gabbana staff member.
The event was expected to showcase several hundred looks featuring Chinese elements to attract Chinese customers and show the designer duo's respect for the culture, according to a public relations officer of the brand who wished to remain anonymous.
It's not the first time that the company has faced controversy in China. In April 2017, it released a series of promotional videos and photos featuring Chinese models in Dolce & Gabbana dresses posing with Chinese people at some of China's landmarks, such as Tian'anmen Square and Beijing hutong. Chinese netizens complained that all the locals pictured beside the models appeared to be shabbily dressed and from the countryside.