PARIS, JAN. 20 -- Designer Karl Lagerfeld apologized to Muslims today for a low-cut dress in his new Chanel collection that is printed with a passage from the Koran. Chanel said it had destroyed the dress.
Clerics in overwhelmingly Muslim Indonesia called for a boycott of Chanel after supermodel Claudia Schiffer strutted the black bustier dress here last weekend with the Arabic writing embroidered in gray pearls.
Among the passages on the dress is the phrase: "They are the ones who found guidance," which appears repeatedly in the Koran.
The haute couture house said it "presented its apologies to the Muslim community," destroyed the dresses and asked fashion photographers to send in or destroy the negatives of the dress.
Lagerfeld said he was "terribly sorry" but that he didn't know the passage was from the Muslim holy book. He took the words from a book on the Taj Mahal.
"I was told it was a love poem in memory of a maharani," or Indian princess, Lagerfeld said.
An organization of Indonesian clerics also said it would send a protest letter to Germany, Lagerfeld's homeland.
A spokeswoman for Chanel said Lagerfeld "had no idea what the original meaning was. He was just interested in the design from an aesthetic point of view."
She denied that Chanel had feared possible reprisals from Muslims for desecrating their holy book. "We just acted out of respect for the Muslim community. We don't want to insult anybody," she said.