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Thu Dec 18 11:31:18 SAST 2014

War bonnet ruffles feathers

Sapa-AP | 14 November, 2012 00:03
2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show - Runway
Karlie Kloss posted an apology on Twitter for this controversial outfit Picture: DIMITRIOS KAMBOURIS/WIREIMAGE
Image by: Dimitrios Kambouris / WireImage

Victoria's Secret has apologised for putting a Native American-style headdress on a model for its annual fashion show, an accessory many found disrespectful of tribal culture.

The company said it wouldn't include the outfit in the show's television broadcast next month, or in any marketing materials.

"We sincerely apologise 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 must be earned through an act of compassion or bravery.

Some modern-day Native American leaders have received 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 honourable man.

"He was a leader. He did a lot of honourable things for his people," said Michelle Spotted Elk, of Santa Cruz, California.

"It also has religious significance. With [the Lakota] there's no 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.

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's 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.

"We have gone through the atrocities to survive and ensure our way of life continues," Navajo Nation spokesman Erny Zah said in an interview on Monday.

"Any mockery, whether it's Halloween, Victoria's Secret - they are spitting on us. They are spitting on our culture, and it's upsetting."

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