FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Victoria's Secret has apologized for putting a Native American-style headdress on a model for its annual fashion show, after the outfit was criticized as a display of ignorance toward tribal culture and history.
The company responded to the complaints over the weekend by saying it was sorry to have upset anyone and that it wouldn't include the outfit in the show's television broadcast next month, or in any marketing materials.
"We sincerely apologize as we absolutely had no intention to offend anyone," the company said.
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. Some modern-day Native American leaders have been gifted war bonnets in ceremonies accompanied by prayers and songs.
"When you see a Lakota chief wearing a full headdress, you know that he was a very honorable man. He was a leader. He did a lot of honorable things for his people," said Michelle Spotted Elk, a Santa Cruz, Calif., woman of mixed heritage whose husband is Lakota. "It also has religious significance. With them, there's not a division between spirituality and their leadership."
Victoria's Secret model Karlie Kloss walked onto the runway last week wearing the floor-length feathered headdress, leopard-print underwear and high heels. She also was adorned with fringes and turquoise jewelry during a segment meant to represent the 12 months of the year — fireworks in July, rain gear for April and a headdress for November.
Kloss herself posted on Twitter that she was "deeply sorry if what I wore during the VS Show offended anyone."
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." Several expressed appreciation to Victoria's Secret for halting its marketing of the clothing, and others reached back in history to explain their feelings.