Lisa Blue Apologizes for Lakshmi Swimsuits

Photo: Getty Images
One of the controversial swimsuits, as seen on the Lisa Blue runway.

An Australian designer's swimsuit line has made quite the splash—for the wrong reason.

Swimsuits (both a cutout one-piece and a revealing bikini) from Lisa Burke's Lisa Blue Spring 2011 collection has sparked a religious controversy because it features an image of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi.

After being shown on the runway during Australian Fashion Week, photos of the suits—modeled by a catwalker with a bindi on her forehead—prompted a slew of "abusive" comments to flood Fashionising, which had posted the pics.

"Largely aimed at the label and its designer Lisa Burke, they've ranged from statements of concern to mild slurs, and at the other end of the spectrum have also included curses and all-out death threats," the style site writes.

The controversy stems from the "inappropriate" use of Lakshmi's image, which is highly revered in the Hindu religion.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed told the North India Times the image was "meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not for pushing swimwear in fashion shows for mercantile greed of an apparel company."

Following a May 8 protest by Indian activists, many of whom clutched photos of the offending swimwear, Lisa Blue has issued an apology and pledged to remove the Lakshmi image from its Spring 2011 collection.

"We would like to offer an apology to anyone we may have offended and advise that the image of Goddess Lakshmi will not appear on any piece of Lisa Blue swimwear for the new season, with a halt put on all production of the new range and pieces shown on the runway from last week removed," the label says in a message posted on its Facebook wall.

"Lisa Blue has been born out of a love of conservation, spirituality, and a respect for all people. At no time would we ever have intended that the brand would cause offense. The use of images of Goddess Lakshmi was not in any way a measure of calculated risk-taking; simply, it was a desire to celebrate different cultures and share that through our brand."