Fashion designer posts altered photo of Bruce Jenner in a dress

This image was posted Tuesday to the Diane von Furstenberg Instagram account but quickly pulled down.

Story highlights

  • Photo shows Bruce Jenner's face on 1970s-era picture of designer in a dress
  • "I wish him nothing but a lifetime of happiness," designer says in statement

(CNN)"Tasteless." "Insanely inappropriate." "Just bizarre."

That's a sampling of the reaction to designer Diane von Furstenberg's latest offering: not a new dress but an altered version of an iconic 1970s photo of the designer wearing a dress, with Bruce Jenner's face plastered over hers and posted to Instagram.
The image, which reportedly was pulled down soon after it was posted Tuesday, was accompanied by a message of support from von Furstenberg to Jenner after he revealed in an interview that aired last week with ABC's Diane Sawyer that "for all intents and purposes, I'm a woman."
    "You are the woman you wanted to be!" the Instagram message read, according to screenshots posted in media reports. "I salute your strength, courage and honesty. By speaking out, you have spoken for so many who suffer.. ... Love Diane."
    Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg in 2014.
    In addition to featuring von Furstenberg's 1974 ad for the wrap dress -- which she's widely credited with popularizing -- the message also features an apparent reference to her 2014 autobiography, "The Woman I Wanted to Be."
    The Photoshopped image drew criticism on social media, with many commenters saying it was tasteless or exploitative.
    "I get she was trying to show support...but it's kind of tasteless to turn in (sic) into your own ad," Twitter user sineadsaintelle wrote.
    The episode goes to show how complicated and sensitive transgender issues can be in today's social media culture, when even an effort to support Jenner's decision can backfire.
    A spokesman for von Furstenberg's company, Hillary Prim, declined to comment on how the image ended up online or the motivation behind it beyond a statement offered by the designer:
    "I admire Bruce Jenner's strength, courage and honesty and have so much respect for him using his voice to speak for people who have none. I wish him nothing but a lifetime of happiness," von Furstenberg said in the statement.
    Although Jenner's physical appearance has become more feminine in recent months, he seems to be trying to exert control over how his image is viewed. He told Sawyer that he's not ready to be seen in public as "her," as he calls his emerging true self. (CNN is using the pronoun "he" until Jenner expressly states he wants to be called she.)
    The E! cable channel said it will air an eight-part documentary series about Jenner's transition, starting in late July.