SHANGHAI (AFP) - China's Internet saw an outpouring of support on Tuesday (Nov 21) for model Ming Xi, who apologised to the country for tripping on the catwalk of the first-ever Victoria's Secret fashion show held in her country.
Xi, who was born Xi Mengyao, went down after stepping on the train of her flowing costume during the show in her hometown Shanghai.
The spotlight was on participants like Xi after Victoria's Secret chose a record seven Chinese-origin models for the annual show - which is broadcast in over 190 countries - as it seeks to break into the country's growing lingerie market.
But Xi was the only one of the 55 models in the show to suffer the occupational hazard of falling on the catwalk, in what quickly became one of the top-trending items on China's Twitter-like Weibo.
"I'm sorry to let everyone down. Thanks for everyone's concern," Xi, 28, said on Weibo.
"As a model for seven years, I have fallen on this road many times, but I know no matter how painful it is, I must stand and finish. The future road is long. I will always continue walking."
Chinese netizens praised Xi for getting up, straightening the elaborate floral-themed decorative frame on her back and finishing her walk.
"My heart broke watching that. But Ming is still pretty! Go girl!" said one of thousands of Weibo comments.
Supermodel Karlie Kloss chimed in on Xi's feed. "You handled that with such grace and elegance. Sometimes you trip and fall but it's how you get back up that matters, and you got up like a champ and owned it. Love you Ming!"
The racy exhibition of skimpy bras and panties, now in its 23rd year, was recorded Monday but airs globally on Nov 28.
The run-up was overshadowed by bad press including the withdrawal of top American model Gigi Hadid on Friday.
Hadid gave no reason, but she had been harshly attacked by Chinese internet users over a video clip showing her squinting her eyes next to a Buddha image, an act construed by critics as racist.
United States media also reported that singer Katy Perry was expected to perform but was denied a Chinese visa.
The reports suggested China was upset that Perry had previously draped herself in the flag of diplomatic rival Taiwan and performed in colours implying support for those on the island opposing closer relations with China.