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Victoria's Secret apologizes for use of Native American headdress

November 13, 2012|By Shan Li
  • Karlie Kloss modeled the controversial leopard-print outfit with a Native American headdress.
Karlie Kloss modeled the controversial leopard-print outfit with a Native… (Amanda Schwab / Associated…)

Lingerie maker Victoria's Secret's annual fashion show is typically an extravagant display of all the ways that underwear can tip into costume. This year one leopard-print outfit featuring a Native American headdress has the retailer apologizing profusely.

The controversial number was modeled by Karlie Kloss, who was bedecked with turquoise jewelry along with the headdress made of red, black and white feathers at the Nov. 7 runway show.

The headdress, also referred to as a war bonnet, is traditionally worn during special occasions by men who have done brave deeds in battle. So it's not unexpected that some members of Native American communities were outraged that it was used instead to glam up scantily clad models.

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Ruth Hopkins, a columnist for Indian Country, said that "making a mockery of Native identity is unacceptable."

"After years of patronage and loyalty to the Victoria's Secret brand, I am repaid with the mean-spirited, disrespectful trivialization of my blood ancestry and the proud Native identity I work hard to instill in my children," she wrote. "Well, I've got news for you, Victoria's Secret. Consider yourself boycotted."

"This Native girl is ready to go commando," Hopkins added.

In response, Victoria's Secret apologized via Twitter and said the outfit won't be shown during next month's TV broadcast of the runway show.

"We are sorry that the Native American headdress in our fashion show has upset individuals," the tweet says.

Kloss also apologized via Twitter and said she fully supported the retailer's decision to cut the outfit from broadcast.

Victoria's Secret is just the latest retailer getting in trouble for appropriating Native American imagery. Paul Frank recently yanked all items inspired by Native Americans after hosting a "powwow" night with celebrities and workers sporting feathered headbands. Urban Outfitters last year faced heavy criticism with a Navajo-themed line of apparel and accessories that included a flask and undies.

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Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ShanLi

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