Menkes, now international editor for Vogue and previously a fashion editor for The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune, attended over the weekend a double presentation that Dolce & Gabbana gave in Milan for a small coterie of private couture clients. She took to Instagram before, during and after the presentation, as many fashion editors do, and wrote up a review — measured but positive, overall.
The outrage didn’t take long.
You see, it was three weeks ago that Dolce & Gabbana attempted to stage a “tribute” to China with a lavish runway event in Shanghai that was abruptly canceled as screenshots of Stefano Gabbana’s verified Instagram account circulated showing the designer apparently characterizing the entire country as a poop emoji. Before that there was also a video from an ad campaign showing a lovely Chinese model for some reason struggling to eat a slice of pizza with chopsticks. While Gabbana vehemently claimed he was “hacked,” that explanation, backed up by zero evidence in the moment or the days since, seems to have convinced very few.
The rigamarole started almost immediately — notables denounced, buyers and editors renounced and the Internet raged-typed the night away. But Menkes apparently saw no reason she should skip a review. If it had only been a review, maybe she would have been spared the backlash, but now many of her followers are suggesting she supports the negative views now often associated with the D&G brand: at least insensitivity and blatant disregard for evolving cultural mores, at worst misogynistic, homophobic and racially inappropriate ideals (this is not their first outrage rodeo). Oh, also poop emojis. She’s been getting lots and lots of poop emojis.
Menkes’ Vogue review launched with comments from Domenico Dolce dismissing the events and fallout around the brand’s China episode. “China is yesterday, today is another day,” she quoted him as saying. Gabbana then got his say: “You make a mistake — sometimes it happens.” He added that of 25 private clients from China invited to the presentation, 18 were in attendance.
She didn’t push the issue, it seems, and launched into the details of the clothes and the ambiance, lavish both. Menkes noted that the designers received a standing applause from the invitees, aptly described as “simply an alliance of moneyed people.” But then she shifted to add context that such a review at such a time demands — and appeared to defend the duo.
“I find it difficult to make any judgment about a show that never took place,” Menkes wrote in her review. “The criticism over a marketing campaign of a model attempting to eat pizza, cannoli and spaghetti with chopsticks was branded racist, where I would see it as insensitive and stupid.”
She also referred to the designers in her review as “chastened” — twice — and then seemed to somehow accept the extravagant clothes and jewelry as “a ‘mea culpa’ — an acknowledgment of fault — and a beautifully crafted collection pertinent to their clientele.” How exactly such a display of luxury is anything close to a “mea culpa” she did not explain.
The backlash to Menkes’ review has apparently been such that she felt the need to take to her Instagram once more (where she posted not once but 21 times about the brand’s presentations over two days) to apologize. Somewhat.
“As a journalist, my job is to follow as many fashion designers as possible and report what I see,” Menkes wrote. “And I am deeply sorry if words I have written have been interpreted in any way as a support for racism, which I deplore.”
Menkes added in a caption that the words “come from the heart” but it didn’t stop the post from being met mainly with derision. The Internet may be quick to forget, but it is not quick to forgive and nothing on it really ever goes away — as much as two designers would like it to.
For More, See: