Less than one week after Victoria’s Secret threw a fashion show that featured a $2.5 million bra, Justin Bieber, Rihanna and more skin than clothes, the lingerie giant has issued a public mea culpa for also featuring a model in a floor-length feathered headdress, fringed bikini and turquoise accessories.
Supermodel Karlie Kloss, 20, walked the runway at the Sixty-Ninth Regiment Armory in New York City last Wednesday in the Native American-style outfit to represent November during a segment meant to represent the 12 months of the year.
After photos of Kloss were released, Native American leaders and women rose up to say that Kloss had misrepresented them and their culture. The protest spread online and prompted Victoria’s Secret to respond online with an apology and a promise to not air the footage of Kloss when the fashion show is broadcast on CBS next month.
“We are sorry that the Native American headdress replica used in our recent fashion show has upset individuals,” the company said in a statement posted on its Facebook page and to Twitter Saturday. “We sincerely apologize as we absolutely had no intention to offend anyone. Out of respect, we will not be including the outfit in any broadcast, marketing materials nor in any other way.”
Kloss also tweeted her own apology to her nearly 118,000 Twitter followers, writing, “I am deeply sorry if what I wore during the VS Show offended anyone. I support VS’s decision to remove the outfit from the broadcast.”
The sudden about-face by Victoria’s Secret came just days after the band No Doubt pulled their “Looking Hot” music video from YouTube and issued an apology of their own for using the headdress, historically a symbol of respect for Native Americans, worn by war chiefs and warriors, in the cowboys and Indians-themed video.
The apology by Victoria’s Secret has drawn more than 5,000 comments since it’s posting, ranging from those supportive of the costume to those who see it as a culturally insensitive affront to the Native American people from which Victoria’s Secret was right to back away.
Earlier this year the Columbus, Ohio-based company removed its entire “Go East” collection of Asian-inspired lingerie wear from its website after feeling heat from bloggers for the “Sexy Little Geisha” it described on its website as, “Your ticket to an exotic adventure.”
The $98 lingerie one-piece featured a “sexy mesh teddy with flirty cutouts and Eastern-inspired florals,” according to its description, which has since been removed, on its website. The outfit also included a removable obi belt with a bow in back and came with a matching fan and hair chopsticks.
A spokeswoman for Victoria’s Secret did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.