HRC Blog

Sultan of Brunei Cancels Annual Dorchester Collection Competition and Gala

Today HRC commended the many leaders in the fashion industry who have publicly stated that they will avoid the Sultan of Brunei’s Dorchester Collection of hotels.  In the wake of intense criticism of its owner’s planned implementation of new laws that could lead to women and LGBT Bruneians being stoned to death, the company made public this morning its decision to cancel its annual fashion competition and gala, known as the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize.  The decision by the hotel company was made within hours of Dorchester learning of a planned action by HRC today to bring attention to the fashion prize.  So hasty was the retreat that the website and Facebook page for the event are still up.

“We applaud the many designers, companies, and leaders in the fashion industry who have refused to turn a blind eye to the Sultan’s blatant disregard for the human rights of all Brueneians,” said Ty Cobb, HRC’s director of Global Engagement.  “The fact is that the Dorchester Collection’s profits belong to a regime that could start stoning women and LGBT Bruneians as soon as next year, and the cancellation of this prize is yet another sign that the Sultan’s company is feeling the impact of the worldwide movement to reject the Sultan’s horrific new laws.”

Last week, American Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and Glamour Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive joined François-Henri Pinault, the leadership of Yves Saint Laurent fashion house, and many other prominent voices in the fashion world in announcing they’re avoiding the Dorchester Collection’s global properties in protest of the Sultan of Brunei’s new laws.

Established in 2010, the company claims the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize was the “first award of its kind developed by a luxury hotel company,” and that it seeks to “build on [its] own established fashion heritage.”  Although it maintains an active website and social media presence to promote the annual competition and event, the company had remained conspicuously silent throughout the recent controversy regarding plans for this year’s competition until today.

On April 30, HRC condemned the Sultan of Brunei’s decision to begin implementing the first of the new laws' three phases, and called on Americans who supported the rights of those who would be affected to avoid the Sultan’s hotels.  In addition, HRC has recently criticized the Dorchester Collection for shamefully parading its own employees out on social media and for reporters in a desperate attempt to divert attention away from actions taken against the Sultan of Brunei’s hotels. This ploy comes despite assurances from the company that it has guaranteed the positions, income, and benefits of all of its employees for as long as the controversy continues.

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