TW: Mentions of Sexual Assault

As viewers around the world watch the latest designs parade down the runway and see their favorite celebrities attending the shows, they might notice something interesting.

Although there have been debates in recent years over what actions are truly “cancellable,” I believe most people would agree that those with sexual assault allegations and those who have shown themselves time and time again to be racist and hurtful, should be “canceled.” Runway watchers may notice that despite the previously stated controversies, Alexander Wang and Dolce & Gabbana, respectively, are still thriving, with many celebrities both watching and walking for their shows.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, the designers behind Dolce & Gabbana, have almost more controversies than can fit into one article. One controversy is their use of Blackamoor imagery, an artistic “style” which portrays caricatures of Black people, on their designs including earrings and dresses, whilst having no Black models in the same show. Another is they opposed gay adoptions and said, “The only family is the traditional one.” Gabbana also unpromptedly called Selena Gomez “so ugly.” The brand also named one of their luxury shoes the “slave sandal.” They once again had a race controversy following their release of a Chinese advertisement showing a woman struggling to eat Italian food with chopsticks, which many Chinese people found insulting. Following that 2018 controversy, the duo did receive some blowback, including having their Shanghai show canceled. and their brand pulled from many Chinese retailers.

Despite their multiple “cancelable” actions, it would appear D&G can’t be kept down. In the time since these various events, their designs have been “featured in Harper’s Bazaar,”showcased, repeatedly, in Elle” and on covers for both Vogue and InStyle.

Kim Kardashian had a collaborative collection with the brand. Kourtney Kardashian’s highly-covered Italian wedding to Travis Barker was even  held at the Dolce & Gabbana estate, with the entire family all wearing multiple looks from the brand throughout.

With the latest Fashion Week, Dolce & Gabbana had top models on their runway, including Naomi Campbell, Irina Shayk, Imaan Hammam and Ashley Graham. They had stars Halle Bailey and Kylie Jenner on their front row as well.

Dolce & Gabbana are not the only designers seemingly unaffected by their own cancellation. In 2020, models came forward with allegations of sexual assault against designer Alexander Wang, which Wang denied. However, outside of the fashion industry, in recent years, an allegation alone is enough to suspend a career. Wang held a Los Angeles comeback show a year and a half after the allegations and continued on after that. With Vogue’s Editor In Chief, Anna Wintour, sitting front row for his latest shows, and Gabriette and Julia Fox walking in his show. Culture and fashion writer Daniel W. Rodgers said, “Those who would like to blacklist Wang… simply don’t have the power to do so.”

Ignoring controversial actions and remarks is not new for the fashion industry. As Fashion Magazine writer Natalie Mitchie pointed out, despite a history of “racist remarks and fatphobic rhetoric,” the late Chanel Designer Karl Lagerfeld was still “honored at the 2023 Met Gala.” Designer John Galliano, now of Maison Margiela, even got hit with a fine for hurling “racist and antisemitic rants” at patrons in a bar and continued to get promotions as a creative director in the industry.

Some actions and comments can be worked through and eventually forgiven as people are bound to make mistakes. However, while other industries seem to be swift with their consequences, the fashion industry seems to hold strong to its familiar faces.

With a general societal movement towards taking allegations and harmful comments more seriously, one would think that an industry with a reputation for being non-diverse in both race and body type, and treating its workers without any care, would draw the line at some point. However, the fashion industry seems to be carving its own path. Allowing those with continued patterns of being deeply hurtful and offensive, whilst also remaining unapologetic, to continue to bask in the glories of success. It is hard to accept that an industry wants to move to be kinder when it lifts up the least kind individuals simply because of profit or connections.