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Karlie Kloss apologized after being styled as a geisha in a Japanese-themed photoshoot in the March 2017 ‘diversity’ issue of Vogue. The photos received criticism for featuring an American-born Caucasian supermodel as a traditional Japanese entertainer, with many across social media labeling it ‘cultural appropriation.’
Kloss apologized on Twitter after the outcries: “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. My goal is, and always will be, to empower and inspire women. I will ensure my future shoots and projects reflect that mission.”
The spread was shot at Ise-Shima National Park, Japan, by Swedish fashion photographer Mikael Jansson and styled by Phyllis Posnick. While posing in a variety of settings, Kloss is draped in Kimono-style robes while wearing a Shimada-style chignon wig. In many, her skin is deeply powdered in the dramatic traditional style. In one photo, the 24-year-old poses with a sumo wrestler and in another she stands regally on the steps of a traditional Japanese tea house.
Karlie for Vogue US – March 2017 pic.twitter.com/Pbo9rssT8p
— bestkkpics (@bestkkpics) February 14, 2017
Reaction to the controversial shoot hasn’t been entirely supportive, with some comparing Kloss to other celebs who’ve been called out for attempting to normalize cultural appropriation, such as Emma Stone and Scarlett Johansson.
One Twitter user wrote: “Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson, and Tilda Swinton turn to Karlie Kloss. “Your turn, girl.” Karlie on phone: “Hello, Vogue? Make me Asian.”
Another stated: “Karlie Kloss was styled as a geisha in the March issue of Vogue––the theme of which is “diversity.” This is not what diversity looks like.”
“Someone at vogue really thought “this issues gonna be about diversity,” a user tweeted. “so we’re gonna take karlie kloss and dress her up as a geisha”
Karlie on phone: “Hello, Vogue? Make me Asian.” pic.twitter.com/zgUWIB022Q
— Ira Madison III (@ira) February 14, 2017
Ooo look Vogue magazine is still continuing to be racist with their ideas and model usage.. wow shocker.
— Emily△⃒⃘ (@Emzileenie) February 15, 2017
— The Cut (@TheCut) February 14, 2017
— Susan Cheng (@scheng_) February 14, 2017
Karlie Kloss was styled as a geisha in the March issue of Vogue––the theme of which is “diversity.”
This is not what diversity looks like. pic.twitter.com/aZixgzJsq9
— Fusion (@Fusion) February 15, 2017
— TUSHAR NARKAR (@tushki3111) February 15, 2017
someone at vogue really thought “this issues gonna be about diversity, so we’re gonna take karlie kloss and dress her up as a geisha”
— JAZZy McCree (@razzmajazzy) February 15, 2017
*logs in to Twitter*
Karlie Kloss as a geisha for Vogue
Betsy DeVos as Ruby Bridges in a Glenn McCoy cartoon
— Miya Tokumitsu ???? (@MiyaTokumitsu) February 14, 2017
— ????Yonce???? (@nodiggity95) February 14, 2017
This isn’t the first time Vogue has been called out over controversial spreads. In 2011, Italian Vogue apologized for a trend story on jewelry that bared the headline “Slave Earrings,” with text accompanying the image of a blonde model donning the circular hoops: “If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern United States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom.”
What do you think about the controversial photo shoot and Kloss’s apology? Let us know by tweeting @YahooStyleCA.