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Matchesfashion wins top prize at Walpole luxury awards

Walpole, the luxury trade body that represents some of Britain’s best-known luxury brands, has crowned Matchesfashion.com as British Luxury Brand of the Year at the 2017 Walpole British Luxury Awards held this week in London.

Matchesfashion were up against tough competition in luxury department store Harrods and Farfetch, which went onto pick up the best in Digital honour, beating Yoox Net-a-Porter and Charlotte Tilbury, in the 16th annual Walpole British Luxury Awards that celebrates the success of exceptional brands, experiences and individuals that make British luxury the world leader it is today.

Walpole’s chief executive, Helen Brocklebank said: “It’s never been more important to recognise the towering contribution British luxury makes to the UK. The brands and individuals we celebrate tonight add to the cultural and economic richness of the British Isles through regional job creation; the simultaneous preservation of, and innovation in, making and manufacturing skills; a strong focus on export and, of course, their overriding creativity, artistry and passion.”

Matchesfashion wins top prize at Walpole luxury awards

Gucci, Farfetch and Matchesfashion win Walpole awards

There was also honours for Gucci, which scooped the International Luxury Brand of the Year award, in a category that had Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Cartier, and Estée Lauder shortlisted.

Other winners included Johnstons of Elgin, who were awarded with the Commitment to British Manufacturing, while new Innovation and Creative award went to the Kingsman and Mr Porter collaboration, and Chatsworth House won the Walpole Award for Cultural Experience for its ‘House Style’ exhibition examining the history of fashion in English aristocracy in collaboration with Gucci.

Recognising Walpole’s 10-year long commitment to nurturing the next generation of British luxury brands, the Brands of Tomorrow Award for Emerging Talent was presented to House of Hackney, Aurelia Probiotic Skincare,Seedlip and Tom Raffield, which were all identified by the judging panel as new British brands with the “potential for success on a global scale”.

Author, fashion writer and editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar and Town and Country, Justine Picardie was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award as Harper’s celebrates its 150th birthday and Imran Amed, was awarded the Leader in Luxury for his advocacy of British fashion and luxury though the industry-leading Business of Fashion, which he is the founder and editor-in-chief, while the visionary designer, craftsman and furniture maker, Mark Wilkinson, was posthumously awarded the Walpole Honour.

There were also awards for Land Rover, who won the Export Excellence award, while Bentley were named Luxury Maker of the Year, and Glenmorangie were awarded with Luxury with a Heart accolade.

Matchesfashion wins top prize at Walpole luxury awards

Winners were selected by an expert panel of judges from the luxury industry led by Michael Ward, managing director of Harrods and Walpole’s Chairman; Gillian de Bono, editor of FT How to Spend It; Hannah Rothschild, chair of The National Gallery’s Board of Trustees; Stefan Sielaff, design director at Bentley; Marcus Wareing, chef patron of two-Michelin starred Marcus; Henrietta Jowitt, deputy director general, CBI; and Tim Delaney, chairman of Leagas Delaney.

Images: via Walpole website

Parsons MFA Rejects Business of Fashion’s School Rankings

OPINION The value of education has never been more under the microscope with fashion education booming, tuition sky-high, and more fashion programs and fashion graduates entering the marketplace than ever before yet no corresponding marked increase in jobs. The spike in interest among young people towards a fashion career, known as the “Project Runway Effect,” has led to an oversupply of designers and in turn to the emergence, three years ago, of the Business of Fashion's Global Ranking of Fashion Schools. Almost overnight it became a standard bearer that no one publicly questioned. But as a fashion instructor, I could foresee how the desire to rate highly on this list, and advance from year to year, might become enmeshed with school morale, perceived legitimacy, donor satisfaction, and industry reputation all of which could potentially trickle down to affect the students’ learning experience.

Parsons MFA Rejects Business of Fashion’s School Rankings

Thanks, but no thanks

Which is why the decision communicated this weekend by Parsons MFA Fashion Design & Society program, to withdraw its participation in the rankings is so laudable. The MFA program is only five years old but entered the rankings last year at #8. Parsons undergraduate program occupied the #2 spot for 2017 and as yet there has been no announcement from the school on whether it will withdraw also. But immediate support came from Jennifer Menniti, Department Chair of Fashion at Pratt, who responded on Facebook, ‘Thank you, Parsons! Pratt Fashion stands in solidarity with you. We also decided to no longer participate in the rankings created by BoF for the reasons you state.’ The ensuing conversation on whether other programs, nationwide and globally, will follow suit essentially pits the individual integrity of the philosophical mission of each school or program against BoF’s one-template- fits-all popularity contest so indicative of our reality-TV modern culture. It could provide an opportunity for some much-needed soul-searching to occur inside the nation’s hallowed halls of learning, the effect of which could transform the industry at large. Parsons MFA director, Shelley Fox, in the school’s official statement lists four reasons behind their decision, the first being their disagreement with a main criteria of BoF’s assessment: rate of graduate employment. Describing our industry as the ‘2nd biggest polluter’ and in ‘a place of undeniable confusion acknowledging its slow structural collapse,’ Parsons objects to the idea that schools should set out to slot students unquestioningly into the current broken system and consider it a measure of success.

Responsible for a Revolution

The statement reads “It is irresponsible to participate in any ranking system that considers enrollment into an industry that promotes unhealthy consumerism; a behavior that has been nurtured and manipulated by the industry for the sake of revenue and growing businesses, and in return contribute to the destruction of our planet and the future of our existence." As an educator in this competitive yet highly negligent industry, I am forced to endlessly examine if I am providing students with what I believe to be the right knowledge (often moral rather than skills-based) and find myself conflicted between the damage our industry inflicts and my continuance to operate within it. My mandate of preparing students for that industry while remaining highly critical of it has only been strengthened by Parsons decision. It takes pioneers to inspire pioneers. Stepping off to reflect instead of blazing forward regardless is what’s needed if we are to move forward. Reminding us that a revolution does not happen overnight, Parsons places emphasis on being able to ‘imagine the impossible’ over being ‘programmed for a role.’

While it has been somewhat disheartening during these three years of the list’s existence to see respected century-old institutions regarded as commodities, being selected like players up for the NFL draft, that had swiftly become the new reality. But Parsons MFA takes issue with the idea that schools should be in competition with each other explaining that many of their student body and faculty members were previously educated at rival schools, and express gratitude for the diversity of knowledge and experience they bring to their program. This collaborative spirit feels in tune with the Millennial and Gen Z mindsets and casts the Business of Fashion's approach in an outdated light with, at its core, a clique mentality and peer pressure as its fuel.

Parsons MFA Rejects Business of Fashion’s School Rankings

NYC or Bust?

A concern that most students from schools across the country will have had at one time or another (and most likely their parents too) is whether their degree is as worthy as one from an NYC school, where the fashion industry exists right on the doorstep. Comparing a school in the midwest with one in Manhattan certainly isn’t comparing apples to apples which Parsons also acknowledges stating that each school has ‘its own challenges from a geographical and budgetary perspective’ that are not figured into the Business of Fashion’s calculations. Schools located in large metropolises versus those located outside should not be viewed as superior or inferior; location ‘merely presents a difference,’ says Parsons. ‘A difference that should not be challenged by a rank.’

Conflict of Interest

The statement ends with concern regarding a conflict of interest surrounding the ranking system itself. A year after its creation and after ‘institutions voluntarily handed over all their data in the hopes to become part of a seemingly much sought after ranking’ BoF launched their own educational courses, potentially benefitting unfairly from the information they learned and thereby setting themselves up in competition with the schools while appearing to remain outside the educational system.

Leader In Scholarly Pursuit

Oscar Wilde said, ‘Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.’ Parsons advocates for the pursuit of autonomous learning and uncharted paths, asserting, ‘From our perspective education should be a time where students can explore, research, fail, discover, build confidence, be challenged, articulate awareness and create a real sense of responsibility in the roles they seek to fulfill – whether these are roles that currently exist or ones that still need to be carved out.’ More than ever we are in need of mold breakers and revolutionaries, not self-serving showboaters seeking a hollow moment of glory. Our esteemed institutions might successfully maintain their leadership positions by not vying for the number one spot. All the same, someone always needs to be first. Bravo to Parsons MFA.

By contributing guest editor Jackie Mallon, who is on the teaching faculty of several NYC fashion programmes and is the author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.

All photos from Parsons Facebook and Instagram pages

China's internet saw an outpouring of support on Tuesday for model Ming Xi, who apologised to the country for tripping on the catwalk of the first-ever Victoria's Secret fashion show held in her country.

A post shared by Ming Xi (@mingxi11) on

Xi, who was born Xi Mengyao, went down after stepping on the train of her flowing costume during the show in her hometown Shanghai. The spotlight was on participants like Xi after Victoria's Secret chose a record seven Chinese-origin models for the annual show -- which is broadcast in over 190 countries -- as it seeks to break into the country's growing lingerie market.

But Xi was the only one of the 55 models in the show to suffer the occupational hazard of falling on the catwalk, in what quickly became one of the top-trending items on China's Twitter-like Weibo. "I'm sorry to let everyone down. Thanks for everyone's concern," Xi, 28, said on Weibo.

"As a model for seven years, I have fallen on this road many times, but I know no matter how painful it is, I must stand and finish." "The future road is long. I will always continue walking." Chinese netizens praised Xi for getting up, straightening the elaborate floral-themed decorative frame on her back and finishing her walk. "My heart broke watching that. But Ming is still pretty! Go girl!" said one of thousands of Weibo comments.

Supermodel Karlie Kloss chimed in on Xi's feed. "You handled that with such grace and elegance. Sometimes you trip and fall but it's how you get back up that matters, and you got up like a champ and owned it. Love you Ming!" Kloss said. The racy exhibition of skimpy bras and panties, now in its 23rd year, was recorded Monday but airs globally on November 28.

The run-up was overshadowed by bad press including the withdrawal of top US model Gigi Hadid on Friday. Hadid gave no reason, but she had been harshly attacked by Chinese internet users over a video clip showing her squinting her eyes next to a Buddha image, an act construed by critics as racist.

US media also reported that singer Katy Perry was expected to perform but was denied a Chinese visa. The reports suggested China was upset that Perry had previously draped herself in the flag of diplomatic rival Taiwan and performed in colours implying support for those on the island opposing closer relations with China. (AFP)

Victoria's Secret Show stumbles across the line in China

The glitzy Victoria's Secret fashion show stumbled across the finish line Monday night in its first-ever China staging after a run-up marred by setbacks and reports of political interference by Beijing.

Models breezed down the catwalk sporting elaborate feathered wings and billowing trains as the US brand held the racy show in Shanghai in hopes of making a splash in the country's growing lingerie market to offset declining American profits.

But the show, now in its 23rd year, suffered a blow when top US model Gigi Hadid announced Friday she was withdrawing. She gave no reason for the decision but it came after Chinese internet users savaged the 22-year-old over a video clip showing her squinting her eyes in an apparently derogatory facial expression.

US media also reported that singer Katy Perry was expected to headline the musical acts but was denied a visa by China. Instead, England's Harry Styles led the way. The reports suggested that China was upset that Perry had previously draped herself in the flag of diplomatic rival Taiwan and performed in colours implying support for those on the island opposing closer relations with China.

A post shared by Bella Hadid (@bellahadid) on

Neither Perry, Victoria's Secret, nor China's government have confirmed the reports but the state-aligned Global Times suggested in an editorial Sunday that Hadid and Perry had "dropped a stone" on their own feet.

"Payback was unavoidable. Those who are serious about developing careers in the Chinese market can draw lessons from this case and learn to abide by the rules in China," it said.

Tripped up

The stumbles continued Monday night at Shanghai's Mercedes-Benz arena, whose exterior was bathed in garish pink. A system breakdown slowed the entry of the thousands of invited guests, delaying the show's start, and the Chinese crowd largely resisted entreaties to show much enthusiasm.

According to reports, as part of its China charm offensive Victoria's Secret selected a record seven Chinese women to be among the 55 models. But one of them, Ming Xi, tripped on her costume and went down hard on the catwalk, triggering an outpouring of sympathy on the Chinese internet.

The scene is certain to be excised when the edited production airs in more than 190 countries on November 28. Earlier during make-up, China's top model Liu Wen, a veteran of several Victoria's Secret shows, told AFP that Monday's version was "even more special" to her this year because it was held at home.

"We can be thankful that China is such a big market, so there could be so many Chinese faces appearing. So personally I feel proud of my own country," Liu, 29, said. Victoria's Secret is hoping to win a slice of that market, opening its first two super-stores in China this year, in Shanghai and Chengdu.

The company's US sales have sagged, with analysts blaming its slow-footed response to a trend away from constructed bras towards more comfortable intimate wear. Victoria's Secret is banking on its name recognition and on top models like Adriana Lima and her Chinese counterparts winning over women in China who are increasingly interested in expressing their sexuality, say social and fashion analysts.

Lingerie is one of the fastest-growing segments in Chinese women's apparel, according to market-intelligence firm Mintel. Mintel predicts it will grow to 148 billion yuan (22 billion dollars) by 2020, up 32 percent from 2015 numbers. The show's priciest piece of lingerie was the annual "Fantasy Bra".

This year's version, worn by Brazil's Lais Ribeiro, was a 2 million US dollar creation by Swiss-based luxury-goods company Mouawad, studded with nearly 6,000 gemstones. Matthew Crabbe, Mintel's regional trends director, said the fashion show was "a great way to raise consumer awareness".

But he added that Victoria's Secret was entering "a tough retail market with many competitors", both foreign and domestic. US fashion media have also run unconfirmed reports that three Russian and one Ukrainian model were denied visas. (AFP)

Foto: Chen Yichuan / Imaginechina / AFP

#ICouldHaveBeen: Kering Foundation campaigns to end violence against women

London - In the wake of revelations concerning the sexual predatory behavior from the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK and Jeffrey Tambor, creative industries around the globe are waking up and taking violence and harassment against women more seriously than ever. Now creative directors from leading luxury fashion houses such as Gucci, Stella McCartney, Joseph Altuzzarra, Christopher Kane and Qeelin, have joined forces with the Kering Foundation to encourage Generation Z to end violence against women through the campaign #ICouldHaveBeen.

#ICouldHaveBeen: Kering Foundation campaigns to end violence against women

“To put an end to violence against women, I believe we must change mindsets, and to do so, we have to engage younger generations, particularly Generation Z. I think they can have an incredible impact by taking action against gender inequality and the root causes of gender-based violence,” said Salma Hayek Pinault, Actress, Director and Producer, and Kering Foundation Board Director. Alessandro Michele, Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane, Joseph Altuzarra, Dennis Chan and Salma Hayek Pinault, Director of the Kering Foundation, are the faces behind the Kering White Ribbon for Women annual campaign.

#ICouldHaveBeen: Kering Foundation campaigns to end violence against women

“Being born a girl should not equate to a higher risk of violence”

Under the hashtag #ICouldHaveBeen and through the website created for this occasion, the campaign aims to raise awareness, especially among adolescents and young adults, of violence against women. Through the platform, the Kering Foundation invites those who were not born a woman to imagine what their lives would be like if they have been born female by entering a girl’s name into the site. Subsequently, users then discover the violence they could have experiences as a girl and are invited to share this on their social media channels.

#ICouldHaveBeen: Kering Foundation campaigns to end violence against women

‘Although one can not understand what victims experience without having lived through violence ourselves, I Could Have Been aims to draw attention to the higher risks of violence girls and women face - simply for being born female,' said the Kering Foundation. Similarly, as a sign of solidarity with the victims of violence, women are invited to take HER as their first name and to encourage their family and friends to participate in the campaign.

#ICouldHaveBeen: Kering Foundation campaigns to end violence against women

“Being born a girl should not equate to a higher risk of violence,” said François-Henri Pinault, Chairman & CEO, Kering, and Chairman of the Kering Foundation. “Yet, unfortunately, it is the case in our world today. We all could have been born a girl, we all must take on this combat. A combat I am proud to confront together with the Kering Foundation, our Houses, and their designers via our sixth annual White Ribbon For Women campaign.” In addition to working with its artistic directors, the Kering Foundation will also work with young influencers, such as Panayotis Pascot in France, Leonardo Decarli in Italy and Z.Tao in China, who are set to take part in the campaign.

#ICouldHaveBeen: Kering Foundation campaigns to end violence against women

The Kering Foundation, launched in 2009 by François-Henri Pinault to combat violence against women, aims to continue breaking the silence surrounding this epidemic with its annual White Ribbon for Women campaign, by raising awareness.

#ICouldHaveBeen: Kering Foundation campaigns to end violence against women

Photos: ICouldHaveBeen.org

Victoria's Secret to charm China with fashion show

The star-studded, super-hyped Victoria's Secret lingerie show hits the catwalk in Shanghai on Monday, the first time the US brand is holding its self-described "sexiest show on earth" outside the United States or Europe.

Coming to China is all about business: the company's bottom line is sagging and it is staking its future on the growing Chinese market. Here is everything you should know about the annual festival of music, lace and flesh, now in its 23rd year.

China or bust

Western markets for intimate wear have already matured, but China's is still blossoming as rapid societal changes help loosen Communist-era prudity. 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 US dollars) in 2015, according to market-intelligence firm Mintel Group, which projects it will grow by another 32 percent 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.

Local talent

Making the VS runway is one of the most coveted gigs in modelling, but the company has been accused of bias toward leggy blondes or Latinas in selecting its "angels" -- so-called for the trademark wings they wear. But last year it tapped a record four Asian models and, in a nod to this year's hosts, Shanghai will feature six of Chinese origin, according to reports.

They are led by China's top model Liu Wen, the first Asian on Forbes' annual list of the world's highest-paid fashion divas. She'll reportedly be joined by Shu Pei, Sui He, Xiao Wenju, Shanghai's own Ming Xi, and Paris-born Estelle Chen, who will prowl the catwalk along with top earners such as Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Jasmine Tookes, and Karli Kloss.

Fallen Angel

Holding the racy event in Communist-ruled China seemed destined to get somebody's knickers in a twist. Sure enough, US model Gigi Hadid withdrew Friday after Chinese netizens accused her of racism and warned her to stay home over a video clip of her making a squinty-eyed "Asian" face.

Hadid, who had apologised to Chinese fans in September, gave no reason for suddenly withdrawing, and it was not clear whether VS or China's government may have dropped her to avoid a PR fiasco. US fashion media also have run unconfirmed reports that Russian models Julia Belyakova, Kate Grigorieva and Irina Sharipova, and Ukraine's Dasha Khlystun, had been denied Chinese visas, for reasons unknown.

Bring the bling

Critics pan the show as a sexist and bloated branding stunt, but it nevertheless manages to generate significant buzz with its mix of bling and star power. Musical performers through the years have included the Spice Girls, Phil Collins, Destiny's Child, Sting, Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga, and A-list celebs typically occupy audience seats that reportedly cost thousands of dollars.

The 2017 performers will include Harry Styles, Grammy winner Miguel, and Chinese singer Jane Zhang. The night's highlight comes when a model dons the jewel-encrusted "Fantasy Bra". The honour this year goes to Brazil's Lais Ribeiro, who will model a 2 million US dollar bra made by Swiss-based luxury-goods company Mouawad and studded with nearly 6,000 gemstones including diamonds, yellow sapphires, and blue topaz. The show tapes in Shanghai on Monday night but will not air globally until November 28.

Bra Wars

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 US dollars) -- may find a tough battle on its hands.

A range of established domestic and foreign brands like 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 percent in 2011 but projects that to slow to just 4.4 percent by 2020. (AFP)

Photo: Victoria's Secret, website

W Hotels launches ‘Off Duty’ Closet collection

W Hotels has launched its ‘Off Duty’ Closet concept, which features 25-pieces inspired by model Joan Smalls “jet-setting style”.

The Closet collection will be available globally through W Hotels The Store and has been curated by the hotel group’s creative director Sarah Easley.

The aim of the collection is to reflect Smalls’ personal style and includes pieces from seven designers who have created signature items for the Closet including Veronica Beard, Yestadt Millinery, K/ller Collection, Krewe, Rails, Jibs Life, and Road Twenty-Two.

"Everyone knows what I wear on the runway, in my shoots or on TV, but when I'm not in front of a camera I still curate my look – I spend so much time traveling, what I wear when I'm off duty shapes a lot of my personal style," said Smalls, who is also the global fashion innovator for W Hotels Worldwide.

"I love that W always wants travellers to be on the inside of the fashion world," added Easley. "What better way to get a real insider experience than sharing styles I love? I can't wait to see fellow travellers rocking these looks!"

To celebrate the launch, W Hotels debuted the line at the W in Times Square in New York and will be hosting a further event at the W Paris Opéra hotel.

The ‘Off Duty’ Closet is available through W Hotels The Shop, with price points ranging from 78 - 1,500 dollars.

Image: courtesy of W Hotels

Shanghai police have ruled out foul play and cast doubt on allegations that overwork contributed to the death of a 14-year-old Russian model after she took part in Shanghai Fashion Week last month.

The death of Vlada Dzyuba in a Shanghai hospital on October 27 threw a spotlight on the murky world of foreign models in China -- many from the former Soviet Union -- and raised questions over why a minor was working abroad without a proper guardian.

A Shanghai police statement released late Friday said Dzyuba died of multiple organ failure stemming from a suspected central nervous system infection, possibly meningitis. "A forensic examination found no violent injuries on the surface of the body, routine blood tests were negative, and no abnormalities were found," the statement said.

English-language newspaper The Siberian Times had alleged that Dzyuba, from the city of Perm, died of meningitis compounded by exhaustion following "a gruelling fashion show in Shanghai". But the Chinese agency representing Dzyuba, ESEE Model Management, has vehemently denied the claim.

Shortly after her death, ESEE reproduced a medical report from Ruijin Hospital in Shanghai that gave the cause of death as septicaemia, a type of bacterial blood poisoning. The teen, who despite her youth was allowed to model under Chinese law, died without her family at her side because her mother could not travel to China in time.

Her body was returned to Russia on November 11, Shanghai police said. Shortly after Dzyuba's death, Russian investigators in Perm opened a probe into whether her death was caused by negligence, TASS state news agency reported, citing regional investigators. (AFP)

Victoria's Secret gala hits snag in China as model pulls out

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, ranked fifth on Forbes' list of the highest-paid women models last year at 9 million USD, 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," the 22-year-old said on Twitter. "Love my VS family, and will be with all my girls in spirit!" Hadid's pull-out averts a potential PR disaster for Victoria's Secret, which is hoping to shore up a sagging bottom line with a push into China's growing intimate-wear market.

Victoria's Secret gala hits snag in China as model pulls out

The company opened its first flagship stores in China this year and Monday's show is the first held outside the US or Europe. 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.

After Hadid announced in August that she would come to Shanghai, many Chinese accused her of racism and warned her to stay away. She posted a bilingual apology on China's Twitter-like Weibo on September 1, declaring her "respect and love for the people of China" and swearing she meant no harm, but even that drew flak.

A Victoria's Secret spokesman declined to comment when asked by AFP whether Hadid pulled out on her own, was asked to by the company, or whether Chinese authorities applied any pressure.

Not welcome

Chinese Weibo users mostly crowed over her withdrawal. "Suddenly I have better feelings about VS. If she had come, I would never buy VS my entire life," said one posting. Others, however, expressed regret, noting Hadid's apology.

Speculation has also swirled over the participation of Russia's Julia Belyakova, Kate Grigorieva and Irina Sharipova, and Ukraine's Dasha Khlystun, after unconfirmed reports suggested they were denied Chinese visas. The Victoria's Secret spokesman declined comment.

"That's getting into a Chinese government issue. Victoria's Secret is not going to comment on that," he said, referring line-up questions to each model's individual agencies. The annual show, viewed by millions worldwide, features the planet's top models including Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Jasmine Tookes and Lais Ribeiro.

It tapes Monday and airs globally on November 28. China's foreign ministry said Friday it was "not aware" of the Hadid or visa issues. "I can only tell you that we welcome foreign citizens to come to China, to engage in normal trade, tourism and cultural activities. And we are willing to issue visas to the eligible applicants," ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily briefing.

Hadid joins a list of foreigners who wore out their China welcome. Celebrities including singers Bjork, Elton John and Lady Gaga, and actors such as Richard Gere and Sharon Stone, have either been banned or pilloried for words or actions deemed as criticising China on sensitive topics like Tibetan independence and human rights.

Argentine international footballer Ezequiel Lavezzi, who plays for Chinese club Hebei China Fortune, apologised in May after publicity photos showing him pulling the corners of his eyes back in a slant-eyed gesture angered many. He is still with the club.

(AFP)

Photos: Julien M. Hekimian / AFP and Victoria's Secret

The British Fashion Council is looking to improve its immersive content strategy, with a focus on interactive experiences, after signing a multi-year partnership with Digital Domain, the leading global immersive content studio.

As part of the partnership, all of the British Fashion Council's events and partners, including designers and brands will have access to Digital Domain's expertise to “influence content and engage with today's consumers, decision makers and fashion fans around the world”.

Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council said: "The British Fashion Council has a strong legacy of being at the centre of innovation, and we are committed to continue pushing the quality of our content. Working with Digital Domain will allow us to do so and will give our designers an exciting platform to reach their fans around the world in a new engaging and interactive way.”

Alireza Saifi, VP of global business development, Digital Domain commented: "Digital Domain and the British Fashion Council joining forces will push the boundaries of content available for fashion enthusiasts worldwide.

“The partnership will also empower all British Fashion Council partners and affiliates to fully maximise their collaborations and to better connect with their consumers through leveraging Digital Domain's expertise and capabilities.”

Digital Domain is known for pioneering visual effects, livestreaming events in 360° virtual reality, using augmented realities and technology to bring premium content and experiences to consumers.