Shanghai fashion show is in CHAOS because ‘authorities are closely controlling the event with SPIES even combing emails and stalking models to expel regime critics’
- The show is scheduled to begin on Monday, but organizers are scared to send emails due to the police state
- They’re trying to get around visa issues for Gigi Hadid and Adriana Lima but worry about secret police
- Hadid purportedly made a racist ‘Asian’ face in February; other models may have made social media remarks
- Katy Perry’s performance visa was pulled after authorities found out about a ‘pro Taiwan’ gig she did in 2015
- The show’s executive producer has not denied that Perry and Hadid were blocked, but commended China
- He said that officials had been very helpful when they were putting the show together
China’s secret police are usually concerned about undercover foreigners, but right now they’re more worried about foreigners that are under barely any cover at all, it has been claimed by Victoria’s Secret insiders.
The organizers of Monday’s lingerie show in Shanghai are dealing with a string of organizational disasters that have seen top model Gigi Hadid and guest star Katy Perry banned from the country and Adriana Lima’s residency – she’s currently in China – imperiled.
Victora’s Secret is hardly the first Western firm to struggle with the incomprehensible bureaucracy and managerial incompetence that’s endemic in China, but things are complicated by fears that they are being spied on.
That’s left the China-based team flustered, as they can’t call on help from the US headquarters for fear of having their missives intercepted and used against them.
‘[VS staff in China] want to discuss what’s going on as far as replacements for those denied visas and alternative arrangements, but they have to be tight-lipped because it seems that the government is watching their e-mails,’ an insider told Page Six.
China’s nominally Communist government, having come about as the result of a popular uprising just under 70 years ago, is nervous about the possibility of being dethroned in similar circumstances.
So it keeps a tight rein on its people and those who come to visit, spying on ‘private’ correspondence and limiting access to those sites that won’t let them do so – neither Facebook nor Gmail are accessible in China thanks to its ‘Great Firewall’.
For those in the country with a Virtual Private Network – VPN – that can circumvent online spying, the possibility of the Chinese government reading emails and taking action against those it sees as troublemakers is very real.
And Victoria’s Secret can’t handle any more spanners in the works of its Shanghai show, which is already in chaos, insiders told Page Six.
Early problems came when one of its hottest models, Gigi Hadid, had her visa application turned down Thursday.
It’s not exactly clear why, but it may be because of an online Twitterstorm in February that started when a photo of her squinting while holding up a cookie shaped like an Asian Buddha caused a furor.
She later apologized on the Chinese social media app Weibo, saying: ‘It hurts me to hurt anyone, and I want you all to know that it was never my intent to offend anyone through my actions and I sincerely apologize to those who were hurt or felt let down by me.
‘I have the utmost respect and love for the people of China and cherish the incredible memories I have made while visiting in the past.’
The reason for Perry’s ban is more obvious: During a 2015 concert in Taiwan – which dispute’s Beijing’s claim that its land belongs to China – she carried around a Taiwanese flag and wore a dress covered in sunflowers.
The year before, Taiwanese anti-China protesters had chosen the sunflower as the symbol for their cause because they are seen as a symbol of hope.
An insider told Page Six that Perry ‘was initially granted a visa to perform at the VS show in Shanghai, then Chinese officials changed their minds and yanked her visa.
‘For every artist who wants to perform in China, officials comb through their social-media and press reports to see if they have done anything deemed to be offensive to the country.
‘Maroon 5 was banned a few years ago because one band member wished the Dalai Lama happy birthday on Twitter.’
Victoria’s Secret has been contacted for comment.
Perry will be replaced in the show by former One Direction singer Harry Styles.
Other models banned from visiting the country are Julia Belyakova, Kate Grigorieva and Irina Sharipova – all from Russia – and Ukraine’s Dasha Khylstun, while organizers are still trying to make sure Adriana Lima’s permission to stay in the country isn’t revoked.
It’s unclear what’s causing the problems, but it may be linked to social media posts made by the stars.
It’s not just Victoria’s Secret itself that’s struggling, however – many fashion bloggers hoping to cover the event have had their visas denied for reasons as yet unknown.
And even TV crews are struggling with byzantine laws that stop them from filming outside the Mercedes-Benz Arena, where the event is being held, without permits.
‘If you’re going to China you want to show that you’re in China!’ one source complained.
Speaking to People on Friday, executive producer Ed Razek evaded questions about whether Hadid and Perry would be making an appearance, but commended the Chinese partners.
‘The news reports I’ve been reading from the US here in Shanghai regarding this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show are not an accurate reflection of what I’m seeing and experiencing on site,’ he said – somewhat confusingly, since Hadid and Perry are definitely not in China.
‘The Chinese have been wonderful and enthusiastic hosts and partners, from granting more than 700 visas, collaborating with us on every detail and introducing us to local experts who have helped us elevate our event in this renowned fashion city.
‘We appreciate their efforts and all they have done to make this event a success.’
Western markets for intimate wear have already matured, but China’s is still blossoming as rapid societal changes help loosen Communist-era prude attitudes.
China’s women are a growing consumer force and more interested than ever before in expressing their sexuality, fashion analysts assert, and they increasingly have the money to do so.
Lingerie is among the fastest growing segments of Chinese women’s apparel market, reaching 112 billion yuan ($17 billion) in 2015, according to market-intelligence firm Mintel Group, which projects it will grow by another 32 per cent by 2020.
Victoria’s Secret, whose business performance has withered amid US competition and a product realignment, has taken notice, opening its first two Chinese flagship stores this year, including a huge four-story Shanghai emporium.
Even with the splashy China debut, Victoria’s Secret and its premium products – a single bra in its Shanghai store runs up to 658 yuan ($100) – may find a tough battle on its hands.
A range of established domestic and foreign brands, such as China’s Aimer and Cosmo Lady, and France’s Aubade, already have staked out Chinese turf and growth rates are tapering off.
Mintel said annual growth spiked to 18 per cent in 2011 but projects that to slow to just 4.4 per cent by 2020.