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Hadid out of Shanghai VS show

Top US fashion model Gigi Hadid yesterday pulled out of the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai after an online video showing her apparently squinting her eyes sparked criticism in China.

The announcement is the second snag to hit the US lingerie-maker's A-list underwear extravaganza set for Monday, following reports that four models, three Russians and one Ukrainian, failed to obtain Chinese visas.

Hadid had excitedly announced her participation in the show in August.

She gave no reason for the reversal.

"I'm so bummed I won't be able to make it to China this year," she said on Twitter. "Love my VS family, and will be with all my girls in spirit!"

Hadid's pull-out averts a potential public relations disaster for Victoria's Secret, which is hoping to shore up a sagging bottom line with a push into China's growing intimate-wear market.

The company opened its first flagship store in the country this year and Monday's show - which airs on Nov 28 in the US - marks the first time it has been staged outside the US or Europe.

Chinese netizens lashed out at Hadid after her sister Bella - another of the three dozen or more models expected in Shanghai - posted an Instagram video in February showing Hadid squinting her eyes while holding up a Buddha-shaped cookie.

Hadid's announcement in August that she would appear at the show in Shanghai stirred the pot anew, with many Chinese accusing her of racism and warning her not to come.

She posted a bilingual apology on China's Weibo on Sept 1, declaring her "respect and love for the people of China" and swearing she meant no harm.

Most Chinese Weibo comments on her withdrawal were celebratory.

"Suddenly I have better feelings about VS. If she had come, I would never buy VS my entire life," said one posting.

Others, however, expressed regret, especially following Hadid's apology.

A Victoria's Secret spokesman declined comment, referring questions about the models to each woman's agency. - AFP

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