Top US fashion model Gigi Hadid on Friday pulled out of the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show in Shanghai after an online video showing her apparently making a slant-eyes face sparked criticism in China.
The announcement is the second apparent snag to hit the US lingerie maker’s A-list underwear extravaganza set for Monday, following reports that three Russians and one Ukrainian model had failed to obtain Chinese visas.
Hadid, who was number five on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid female models last year, earning $9 million, had excitedly announced her participation in the show in August. She gave no reason for the reversal.
“I’m so bummed I won’t be able to make it to China this year,” she said on Twitter.
“Love my VS family, and will be with all my girls in spirit!”
Chinese internet users lashed out at Hadid after her sister Bella—another of the three dozen or more models expected in Shanghai—posted an Instagram video in February showing Gigi squinting her eyes while holding up a Buddha-shaped cookie.
Hadid’s announcement in August that she would appear at the show in Shanghai stirred the pot anew, with many Chinese accusing her of racism and warning her not to come.
The annual show, viewed by millions worldwide, will see the planet’s top models take to the catwalk, including Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Jasmine Tookes and Lais Ribeiro.
It tapes Monday and is aired globally on November 28.