Stories about the shambolic Victoria’s Secret fashion show – which is slated to take place Tuesday Nov. 28 in Shanghai – just keep getting weirder.
Chinese bureaucrats have so far refused to cooperate with the show’s producers and planners, denying visas to Gigi Hadid, one of the show’s highest-profile models, and Katy Perry, the US pop superstar who was slated to be the musical guest.
The Communist Party has also inexplicably refused to issue press passes and visas to members of the western media who were supposed to travel to China to cover the event.
Already, we imagine the marketing brass at L Brands have learned their lesson, and that this will be both the first, and the last, VS fashion show held in China.
But as if all this weren’t enough, the New York Post is now reporting that the show’s organizers believe the Chinese government is spying on them. Which, of course, is probably true, given Chinese authorities’ well-known penchant for monitoring foreigners.
The Post says e-mails of VS show staffers and production crew are apparently being monitored by Chinese authorities.
TV and media-industry insiders who are desperately trying to figure out what’s going on amid the production chaos are getting frustrated by messages from colleagues in China simply saying that they can’t speak frankly about the issues with the government because their communications are being watched.
Perry had her visa application declined because she once showed support for Taiwan (which is in an independence struggle with China) during a Beijing concert. Hadid’s was denied because of a picture her sister, Bella Hadid, published on Instagram that the Chinese public deemed offensive. Plus, fellow Angel Adriana Lima’s visa application has been imperiled by an unknown “diplomatic issue.” Meanwhile, a host of other models have also had their visas denied.
Many fashion bloggers have also been denied visas, and TV producers have discovered that they need permits to shoot outside of the Mercedes-Benz Arena, where the show, which is slated to air on CBS later this month, is set to take place.
As one source put it, “If you’re going to China you want to show that you’re in China!”
The surveillance is apparently making it difficult for the show’s organizers to find replacements for the models who have been denied entry. Harry Styles has already been booked to fill in for Perry.
“They 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,” said a source.
With more than a week to go before the show, we can only imagine what fresh entanglements will crop up as the date draws nearer.