THEIR affair had sent tongues wagging in China, but it was the “mistress dress” that stole the show.
A top executive at state-run firm China National Petroleum (CNPC) lost his job on Wednesday after a video of him holding hands with a much younger woman while out shopping in downtown Chengdu went viral.
The woman was not his wife – a fact that led to the executive’s downfall. But it was what the woman was wearing – a body-hugging, summer dress with floral prints of pink, yellow and blue – that drew “oohs” and “aahs”, and sent online sales of the frock soaring.
Chinese netizens have taken to calling it the “mistress” or “dismissal” dress.
Mr Hu Jiyong, the erstwhile general manager of CNPC subsidiary Beijing Huanqiu Construction, and Ms Dong Sijin, a co-worker of his, were spotted this week at a popular shopping district in Chengdu by a street photographer.
A short clip of Mr Hu – who was dressed in a matching pink polo T-shirt – and Ms Dong walking hand-in-hand was posted on Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese sibling, on Wednesday, and quickly drew millions of views.
Within hours from the time the video appeared, CNPC released a statement saying Mr Hu had been sacked. Ms Dong, too, was let go.
But that didn’t stop the online tongue-wagging.
Some said Ms Dong’s father was himself a senior executive at CNPC, and that Ms Dong was known for posts on social media that showcased her taste for expensive designer bags and luxurious vacations. Netizens noted that she was carrying a Lady Dior handbag that retails for around S$8,000 in the video.
But it was the infamous dress that stood out.
Online sleuths quickly learnt that the dress was being sold by a vendor on the online shopping platform Taobao for 618 yuan (S$116).
On the same day Mr Hu’s and Ms Dong’s video was posted, some 1,000 units of the dress were sold, lifting the item to the top of Taobao’s hot items list.
By Thursday, 4,000 units were sold. Overwhelmed by the sudden interest, the Taobao vendor told its customers to “shop rationally”.
But the “mistress dress” also sparked fierce online debate.
“Why would someone want to dress in the style of a mistress? The craze over this really reflects a moral decline in our society,” a Weibo user lamented.
Another person thought the dress was “kinda tacky”.
One fan, though, wrote: “Every dress is probably worn by a mistress at one point. The dress is innocent!”
Others took to using AI imaging tools to render screenshots of Mr Hu and Ms Dong as manga and anime characters.
The ruckus compelled The Beijing Daily, a state newspaper, to post an editorial to say that the dress was attracting attention for all the wrong reasons.
“Focusing too much on the dress and making up salacious stories will divert public attention from the real lesson here,” it said. - The Straits Times/ANN