Dolce & Gabbana Sues Popular Fashion Instagram Diet Prada


Diet Prada, a popular fashion watchdog Instagram account, revealed they are being sued by Dolce & Gabbana for defamation. (Courtesy of Instagram)

In early March, the popular fashion Instagram account Diet Prada revealed that Dolce & Gabbana filed a defamation lawsuit against them after they called out the brand’s racist ad campaign. The Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University is defending Diet Prada’s founders, Tony Liu and Lindesy Schuyler, pro bono. 

On March 4 Liu and Schuyler revealed on their Instagram they had been battling a lawsuit with Dolce & Gabbana and its co-founder Stefano Gabbana. The brand seeks damages of €3 million and Gabbana himself seeks €1 million for loss of revenue and other harm. In 2018, Diet Prada criticized Dolce & Gabbana’s advertising campaign for its “stereotypical and sexist depiction of a Chinese woman,” as well as revealing “anti-Asian remarks originating from Gabbana’s Instagram account.”

The advertising campaign in question depicted a Chinese woman attempting, and failing, to eat Italian food with chopsticks. The video was removed less than 24 hours after its release. Shortly after the video was deleted, model Michaela Tranova posted screenshots of a conversation between herself and Stefano Gabbana. In an angry rant, the designer made a number of racist comments including, “It [the ad campaign] was deleted from Chinese social media because my office is stupid as the superiority of the Chinese” and “China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia” in addition to a number of other racist remarks. At the time Gabbana claimed his Instagram was hacked. It is unclear what his stance on the matter is now. Diet Prada reposted these screenshots and the ad campaign itself, criticizing Dolce & Gabbana. The brand received a wave of backlash. Models, retailers and guests cut ties with Dolce & Gabbana, ultimately leading to the cancellation of its Shanghai fashion show in November of 2018. 

Shortly after, in early 2019, Stefano Gabbana filed a defamation claim in a Milan court against Liu and Schuyler. The nonprofit Fashion Law Institute, based at Fordham Law School, is coordinating Liu and Schuyler’s defense alongside an Italian law firm, AMSL Avvocati. Gabbana claims that Liu and Schuyler caused the brand to lose revenue and were responsible for other harm. 

In the U.S., defamation laws rely heavily on the truth of the statement — it is only considered defamation if the statement was made with knowing falsity. But, in Italy, defamation is defined as “injuring the reputation of an absent person via communication with others.” 

Despite the differences in legal specifics, Marco Amorese of AMSL Avvocati said he is confident the Italian Courts will protect the civil liberties of freedom of speech, adding “the critique of cultural paradigms that are deemed inadequate should promote change and not give rise to judicial actions aimed at silencing it.” 

In their Instagram post, Liu and Schuyler explained why they decided to break their silence about the lawsuit saying, “With so much anti-Asian hate spreading in the U.S., it feels wrong to continue to remain silent about a lawsuit that threatens our freedom of speech.” 

In a later statement by Liu, he said, “As an Asian-American, I’m part of a community that is often misrepresented. Like many people of color in the United States, there’s pain that stems from seeing ourselves depicted through inaccurate, harmful stereotypes. Often, it leads to racism and violence.” 

Liu and Schuyler will continue to fight for their freedom of speech with the help of the Fashion Law Institute and AMSL Avvocati. Schuyler explained that they want to use the Diet Prada platform to speak out against misogyny and racism, saying “Now is the time for public figures and brands to respond to public opinion and media critiques with progressive action, not lawsuits.”

The Fashion Law Institute is defending Diet Prada pro bono and AMSL Avvocati is defending them at a reduced rate, but they still need money to cover law firm costs, filing fees and other legal expenses. You can donate to their GoFundMe here to help with these costs.