Dolce & Gabbana was publicly criticized by Britain’s advertising watchdog Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in January 2007, for an advertising campaign showing models brandishing knives. Following complaints from consumers’ groups in February 2007, Dolce & Gabbana pulled an advertisement in Spain that showed a man holding a woman to the ground by her wrists while a group of men look on. Spain’s Labour and Social Affairs Ministry branded the campaign as illegal and humiliating to women, saying the woman’s body position had no relation to the products Dolce & Gabbana was trying to sell.
Italian publications followed suit, banning the ad. This advertisement was called “a glorification of gang rape” and declared “one of the most controversial advertisements in fashion history. On 5 January 2012, apple daily reported that Hong Kong citizens had been prevented from taking pictures of Dolce & Gabbana window displays in both their Hong Kong stores, stirring anti-mainland chinese sentiment. In particular staff and security personnel at their flagship store on Canton Road asserted the pavement area outside was private property where photography was forbidden.
The actions sparked protests spanning several days and gained international news coverage on 8 January. Local news reports speculated that the Dolce & Gabbanna photo ban may have been imposed at the request of some wealthy Chinese government officials who were shopping and who feared photographs of them in the store might circulate and fuel corruption allegations and investigations into the source of their wealth. Dolce & Gabbana finally issued a formal apology to Hong Kong citizens from its Milan headquarters on 18 January 2012.
Looking into more of D&G’s advertisements, it becomes apparent that they play off of typical societal gender roles. Many times using some sort of sex appeal, the advertisements often depict women as submissive to male supremacy. Take for example, the Madonna for D&G campaign. This campaign included many photos that reduced women to their homemaker gender role. Washing dishes and scrubbing floors on hands and knees (in a somewhat provocative position) both make an appearance in this campaign.