One of France's biggest mail-order fashion retailers has apologised for publishing a photo in which a naked man appears behind a group of children advertising beachwear
Posh French clothes retailer La Redoute put the snap -- featuring four children running up an idyllic looking beach -- on its website, which is viewed by thousands of people daily.
Fashion faux pas: The naked bather (circled) appears in the background of a La Redoute publicity shot which appeared on its website
But whoever put the picture up failed to notice that behind the happy children was a naked, chubby, middle-aged man walking out of the sea -- with everything on show.
The nudist can clearly be seen strolling knee-deep in the sea while in the foreground four children run towards the camera in bright clothing.
Magnified error The mistake was compounded by the fact that La Redoute provided a magnifying glass to allow people to get a closer look at the beachwear and thus any outstanding items in the beach scene.
In a tweet La Redoute said that it "apologises for the photo published on its site and is doing what's necessary to remove it".
But the shot has gone viral on the Internet and spawned a host of spoof montages.
These feature the unidentified nudist as part of the Moon landing, with the face of the disgraced former International Monetary Fund chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or strolling behind French President Nicolas Sarkozy as he goes for a summer dip in swimming trunks.
He is also seen taking on Darth Vader in a Star Wars pastiche.
La Redoute is one of France's biggest mail-order retailers and is owned by the luxury goods conglomerate PPR, parent company of Gucci and Puma among others.
A spokeswoman for La Redoute said an internal inquiry had been launched to determine how the error had happened.
"We are aware that it might have hurt the feelings of Internet visitors," he said, adding that the group promised to "bolster the validation process for all of the brand's communication so that it doesn't happen again".
Some commentators remarked that the "bad buzz" surrounding the photo was actually useful publicity for La Redoute.
On its Facebook page, one commentator suggested it was a "publicity stunt by La Redoute's web team ahead of the sales".
Another, more sympathetic, noted: "Error is human".