Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai Gets Messy As Katy Perry and Gigi Hadid Are Denied Visas
Victoria’s Secret announced—with great fanfare—that its annual fashion show would take place in Shanghai this year.
“Ni hao, China!” it tweeted in August. But for the all the hiccups the show’s new locale is reportedly causing, that enthusiasm may be fading.
Katy Perry, Gigi Hadid, and a host of top models have had their Chinese visas rejected just a week before the taping of the first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in China, causing headaches for the brand and producers of the highly-anticipated event.
The fashion show, scheduled for Nov. 20, was due to feature some of the world’s most famous models and singers, but it’s now enduring a sort of crisis as China has denied a number of performers entry to the country. Those rejected include pop star Katy Perry, who has been banned from China indefinitely, according to Page Six. The paper says she was told she’d be granted a visa, only to have the decision reversed after Chinese officials got wind of a 2015 performance in Taiwan in which Perry wore a dress adorned with sunflowers—a flower associated with anti-China protesters—and donned the flag representing Taiwan as a cape.
Top models have also been refused entry, including Gigi Hadid. Page Six reports that Hadid may have been barred because of an online video, in which she appears to mock Asian facial traits. The supermodel expressed regret about missing the event on Twitter.
As of Friday, Perry had not posted about her reported visa denial on Twitter, where she has 106 million followers.
The furore extends beyond the show’s performers with Page Six reporting that fashion bloggers who intended to write about the show are also canceling their trips due to visa issues. Confusion over what TV crews are allowed to cover has also complicated plans to televise the event across the globe on Nov. 28. CBS will air it in the United States. Plus, the communications staff of Victoria’s Secret itself has been unable to send out press releases because they don’t have approval from government officials, Page Six reports.
Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands did not return Fortune‘s request for comment on the situation in Shanghai.
The show’s obstacles are compounding a year of tribulations for Victoria’s Secret, L Brand’s once-dominant lingerie chain, as it tries to reinvent itself in a harsh retail environment. L Brands this week reported that comparable sales at Victoria’s Secret fell 4% in the third quarter, as it continues to endure the consequences of cutting its swimsuit and apparel offerings.
Victoria’s Secret’s annual lingerie show in the U.S. has been a bright spot for the brand, having firmly emerged as a pop culture event. In the past, it’s attracted performing artists like Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj. The setbacks of the show’s debut in China—where the lingerie market has more than doubled in five years (ending 2016) to $18 billion—are even more hard-hitting since it was seen as a way to boost Victoria’s Secret’s exposure in the region.
The yearly extravaganza has previously been held in Cannes, London, New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. Last year it took place in Paris. That international venue also presented challenges, as Victoria’s Secret planned the show in the wake of the city’s terror attack and Kim Kardashian’s high-profile jewelry theft.