The photo series appeared in Vogue’s March issue of the magazine, which was touted as their “diversity” issue. In the Mikael Jansson-shot spread, Kloss is dressed in geisha garb, a jet black wig, and traditional make-up. The photos include one of Kloss posing next to a sumo wrestler, another of her in front of a tea house wearing a kimono, among others.
After the images sparked an online outrage, Vogue removed them from their website. (They can still be seen here.)
Kloss’ tweeted an apology on her personal account early Wednesday morning.
— Karlie Kloss (@karliekloss) February 15, 2017
“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,” Kloss writes. “My goal is, and always will be, to empower and inspire women. I will ensure my future shoots and projects reflect that mission.”
But this isn’t the first time Kloss has come under fire for cultural appropriation. During the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in November 2012, Kloss received heat for appearing on the runway clad in a Native American-inspired headdress, and the look was later edited out of the TV broadcast. During a September 2016 Marc Jacobs fashion show, Kloss and other models sported dreadlock wigs.
The backlash comes on the heels of fellow model Gigi Hadid being accused of mocking of Asians. A video posted by Gigi’s sister Bella depicted the model giggling and squinting her eyes as she held up a cookie with Buddha’s face on it. The footage was later deleted.