For Chinese television, there is an unwritten rule on celebrity fashion; namely, the make of the dress cannot be broadcast on air.

So during the award season in China, reports on the red carpet usually go, “So-and-so is wearing a red dress by a famous international brand.”

This story first appeared in the February 1, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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What ensues is a guessing game by fashionistas and fans on the Internet as to who is wearing what. These guessing games are inevitably followed by the nastiest critique of celebrity on-air style. If the celebrity survives the aftermath, some brands might issue a press release to claim the dress. Otherwise, everyone is simply silent.

The biggest TV show in China is the Chinese New Year’s Eve Gala by CCTV (Central China Television) with an average audience level of 300 million each year. The Gala has been running now for almost 30 years, it’s a five-hour special, broadcast live from CCTV studios on New Year’s Eve. The biggest stars are invited to perform on the show, and it has a reputation of making and breaking careers due to massive viewership.

In recent years, celebrity fashion has become a major feature of the New Year’s Eve Gala. In 2010, Niu Li, an actress, wore a pink Prada coat during her performance. This created a run on the coat in Prada stores across China. Such positive influence on sales by celebrity is very rare. This year’s Gala, which took place on January 22, is a more typical year in which neither brands nor celebrities came out as winners. Three international brands were spotted on the Gala stage:

• Hu Ke, a TV anchorwoman, was seen wearing a little red dress from Valentino’s SS 2012 cruise collection.

• Feng Shaofeng, a young upcoming actor, was seen wearing a sequined tuxedo identified on the Internet as a piece from Dolce & Gabbana’s 2011 FW collection.

• Finally, Niu Li, the actress with the pink Prada coat, turned up again in pink, this time in a pink dress by Marc Jacobs 2012 cruise collection. Unfortunately, it did not make a big positive stir.

Unfortunately, fashionistas were not impressed with celebrity fashion for the 2012 Gala evening. Most disappointing was Fay Wang, a longtime fashion icon and pop singer. Not only did she sing out of tune but was also most unfashionably dressed.

Needless to say, no one could identify the make of her nondescript red dress and certainly no brand stepped forward to claim the booby prize for the evening.

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