Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Victoria's Secret apologises for offence caused by using Native American headdress

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Model Karlie Kloss walks the runway during the 2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at the Lexington Avenue Armory on November 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Victoria's Secret Angel Doutzen Kroes walks the runway during the 2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at the Lexington Avenue Armory on November 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
Model Joan Smalls walks the runway during the 2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at the Lexington Avenue Armory on November 7, 2012 in New York City.

Victoria’s Secret has apologised after one of its scantily clad models wore a Native American headdress during its annual fashion show.

The lingerie company was widely criticised for displaying ignorance towards tribal culture and history when model Karlie Kloss walked onto the runway wearing the floor-length feathered headdress alongside leopard print underwear and high heels.

The company responded by saying it was sorry for causing upset, adding it would not be including the outfit in the show's television broadcast or in any marketing materials.

Kloss herself posted on Twitter that she was “deeply sorry if what I wore during the VS Show offended anyone.”

Historically, headdresses are a symbol of respect, worn by Native American war chiefs and warriors.

For Great Plains tribes, for instance, each feather placed on a headdress has significance and had to be earned through an act of compassion or bravery.

Navajo Nation spokesman Erny Zah said: “We have gone through the atrocities to survive and ensure our way of life continues… Any mockery, whether it's Halloween, Victoria's Secret - they are spitting on us. They are spitting on our culture, and it's upsetting.“

Thousands of people have commented about the outfit on the company's Facebook page. Some praised Kloss' attire as artistic and urged those offended by it to “get over it.” Others were clearly angry at the insensitivity.

There has been a string of similar incidents recently, with Paul Frank Industries and the band No Doubt running into criticism earlier this year for their use of headdresses in clothing and parties, and in a cowboys-and-Indians-themed video, respectively. Both offered apologies for causing offence.

Last year, Urban Outfitters set off a firestorm of criticism with its line of Navajo-branded clothing and accessories - particularly underwear and a liquor flask, which the tribe said was “derogatory and scandalous”.

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