Supermodel Karlie Kloss has apologised for appearing in a fashion spread in Vogue’s diversity issue styled as a geisha, calling it culturally insensitive.
Karlie, who has Danish and German roots, was photographed by Mikael Jansson in a black wig and wears a kimono in one shot and poses beside a sumo wrestler in another. In its introduction, Vogue writes that the spread is “paying homage to geisha culture”.
Karlie took to Twitter on Wednesday to apologise for “participating in a shoot that was not culturally sensitive. My goal is, and always will be, to empower and inspire women. I will ensure my future shoots and projects reflect that mission.”
Vogue, published by Conde Nast, did not respond to requests for comment by the Associated Press.
The US magazine’s March issue already has generated some social media backlash. Intended to celebrate women’s diversity, the cover features seven models of different ethnic backgrounds, but some say it isn’t as inclusive as it could be.
This isn’t the first time Karlie has had to apologise for cultural appropriation. In 2012 she was “deeply sorry” after wearing a Native American feather headdress, suede vest, skirt, and turquoise jewellery at a Victoria Secret fashion show. The outfit was later removed from subsequent broadcasts.
The issue of “whitewashing”, in which Caucasians are chosen for roles that actors of other ethnicities ideally would play, has taken on new urgency in the wake of Matt Damon’s film The Great Wall.
Matt plays an English mercenary in the upcoming adventure fantasy. But the movie’s trailer sparked criticism in the US that a white man had been chosen to play the lead in a film set in China meant to showcase Chinese culture.