Chinese celebrities reacted angrily after screenshots of the conversations were posted on social media and several said they would boycott a Dolce & Gabbana show that was scheduled for Wednesday evening.
The company later said the show, an extravaganza meant as a tribute to China with Asian stars invited to take front-row seats, had been called off.
The screenshots appear to show co-founder Stefano Gabbana referring to China with crude terms and emojis as he defends promotional videos that had sparked controversy earlier.
Separately, the Dolce & Gabbana Instagram account used offensive language in another exchange.
Dolce & Gabbana apologised on Instagram and said the accounts had been hacked.
“We are very sorry for any distress caused by these unauthorised posts,” it said.
“We have nothing but respect for China and the people of China.”
Stefano Gabbana also wrote on his Instagram that his account had been hacked, adding, “I love China and Chinese culture. I’m sorry for what happened.”
Zhang Ziyi, who starred in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, said on one of her social media accounts that the Italian brand had “disgraced itself”.
The studio for pop idol Karry Wang, an Asia-Pacific brand ambassador for Dolce & Gabbana, said that it had informed the fashion house that it would terminate all cooperation with the brand.
Both Wang and Zhang had been invited to attend the event.
The three controversial promotional videos, which have been deleted from the company’s Weibo account, feature a Chinese woman using chopsticks to eat pizza and other Italian food.
Many Chinese social media users called the videos racist and full of outdated stereotypes.
“What happened today was very unfortunate not only for us, but also for all the people who worked day and night to bring this event to life,” designers Gabbana and Domenico Dolce said in a statement from Milan headquarters.
The Shanghai extravaganza was to include 300 models previewing a new collection on a rotating stage, including super model Eva Herzigova and Isabella Fontana during a brand DNA section, and a line-up of millennial stars and influencers for a second section dedicated to the future.
The final part of the show was to be dedicated to Asia, with Asian models and a front row of Asian stars among the 1,000 invited guests, including actors Darren Wang and Jing Kang Liang, singer Stan Young and actress Bing Bing Lee, along with Karry Wang and Zhang.
Asia, and China in particular, is key to European luxury brands’ success.
A recent study by Bain consultancy said one third of all high-end purchases are made by Chinese consumers, shopping both at home and abroad.
That is expected to rise to 46 per cent by 2025, fuelled especially by millennials and generation Z teens.
Dolce & Gabbana has 44 boutiques in China, including four in Shanghai, having entered the Chinese market in Hangzhou in 2005.