Karlie Kloss Apologizes for ‘Racist’ Geisha-Themed Vogue Shoot

Elise Solé
Cover of Vogue magazine.
The March 2017 issue of Vogue. (Photo: Inez and Vinoodh)

Vogue is under fire again. Days after the fashion magazine’s “Diversity issue” stirred controversy for its homogeneous cover and alleged airbrushing, a photo of model Karlie Kloss dressed as a Geisha has sparked outcry.

Kloss, who was shot in Japan and styled by Phyllis Posnick, appears in the photos dressed as a geisha (a traditional Japanese entertainer), posing next to a sumo wrestler and next to a pool. The images fell flat on social media.

While Vogue, owned by Conde Nast, has yet to release a statement, Kloss has responded on social media. “These images appropriate a culture that is not my own and I am truly sorry for participating in a shoot that was not culturally sensitive,” she wrote in a post shared on Twitter. “My goal is, and always will be, to empower and inspire women. I will ensure my future shoots and projects reflect that mission.”

On Friday, the March issue of Vogue was roasted on social media. While it featured models of varying ethnicities, all had super-slim body types and were dressed similarly. Plus-size model Ashley Graham did score a spot on the lineup, but fans weren’t pleased by the fact that her torso was partially covered by fellow model Gigi Hadid’s arm. The backlash led Graham to speak out on Instagram, stating, “I chose to pose like that. No one told me to do anything.” Vogue didn’t respond to Yahoo Style’s request for comment on Kloss’s photoshoot.

Cultural appropriation has always been a problematic theme in the fashion and entertainment industry. Just a few examples: In April, Selena Gomez wore a bindi, a Hindu symbol, to the MTV Movie Awards, prompting Hindu organizations to demand an apology from the star. In 2015, Teen Vogue hired a white model to showcase a Senegalese hairstyle, and Pharrell issued an apology for wearing a headdress on an Elle U.K. cover in 2014.

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