Victoria’s Secret staff claim Chinese are spying on them as top models are denied visas for Shanghai show

Gigi Hadid, Julia Belyakova and Irina Sharipova have all been denied entry to the country

Sarah Young
Monday 20 November 2017 11:47
China responds to blocking visas of Victoria's Secret models

After years of filming its iconic fashion show in New York City, Victoria’s Secret has travelled to London, Paris, Cannes and Los Angeles, and for 2017 the global lingerie giant is heading to Shanghai.

But despite the anticipation, it seems the underwear brand’s debut in the Chinese city is not going entirely to plan.

While organisers of the show attempt to get it back on track following a string of problems obtaining visas for models and performers such as Gigi Hadid and Katy Perry, now they’re also claiming that their e-mails are being intercepted by Chinese authorities.

“[VS staff in China] 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,' an insider told Page Six.

As a result of the country’s strict policies, some of the underwear brand’s most famous models are unable to appear in its biggest event of the year with Gigi Hadid announcing that she won’t be attending on Twitter last week.

“I’m so bummed I won’t be able to make it to China this year,” she wrote.

“Love my VS family, and will be with all my girls in spirit!! Can't wait to tune in with everyone to see the beautiful show I know it will be, and already can't wait for next year!“

While some have speculated that the 22-year-old model pulled out, others claim that Hadid’s visa application was turned down after she offended many by squinting her eyes in an attempt to impersonate the Buddha back in February.

Gigi Hadid appears to be mocking Asian facial traits while holding a Buddha-shaped cookie to her face

She later apologised on the Chinese social media app Weibo, saying, “It hurts me to hurt anyone, and I want you all to know that it was never my intent to offend anyone through my actions and I sincerely apologize to those who were hurt or felt let down by me.

“I have the utmost respect and love for the people of China and cherish the incredible memories I have made while visiting in the past.”

Similarly, Katy Perry was initially granted a visa to perform at the show in Shanghai but Chinese officials soon changed their mind. This, it has been claimed, is because the singer carried a Taiwanese flag and wore a dress covered in sunflowers during a 2015 concert in Taiwan.

Candice Swanepoel, Lily Aldridge, Alessandra Ambrosio and Jasmine Tookes pose in Shanghai (Victoria's Secret)

The year before, Taiwanese anti-China protesters chose the sunflower as the symbol for their cause.

“For every artist who wants to perform in China, officials comb through their social-media and press reports to see if they have done anything deemed to be offensive to the country,” an insider explained.

“Maroon 5 was banned a few years ago because one band member wished the Dalai Lama happy birthday on Twitter.”

A string of other Victoria’s Secret models have also been banned from the country including Julia Belyakova, Kate Grigorieva and Irina Sharipova - all from Russia - and Ukraine's Dasha Khylstun.

Meanwhile, organisers are still trying to confirm whether or not Adriana Lima has permission to stay in the country.

Despite the confusion, executive producer Ed Razek has commended the Chinese partners as “wonderful and enthusiastic hosts.”

While some of the brand’s most famous models are unable to appear in its biggest event, model Karlie Kloss returns after a three-year hiatus (Victoria's Secret)

'The news reports I've been reading from the US here in Shanghai regarding this year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show are not an accurate reflection of what I'm seeing and experiencing on site,” he told People.

“The Chinese have been wonderful and enthusiastic hosts and partners, from granting more than 700 visas, collaborating with us on every detail and introducing us to local experts who have helped us elevate our event in this renowned fashion city.

“We appreciate their efforts and all they have done to make this event a success.”

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