*Editors of a French fashion magazine have defended a controversial photoshoot featuring Beyonce in dark make-up, insisting the editorial spread is “beautiful and inspiring.”

The singer appears on the cover of L’Officiel Paris magazine’s new March 2011 issue. However, in one photo inside, the singer’s skin is visibly darkened with black makeup on her face and neck, which some blogs have labeled as offensive “blackface.”

In the rest of the photos, including the cover photo, Beyonce appears without the dark makeup, dressed in African-themed attire.

In a statement to Access Hollywood, the publication raved over Beyonce and the final images conveyed.

“A queen, a goddess, Beyonce is a bombshell beauty with a divine voice. We’re thrilled she’s opening a season of celebrating the 90th anniversary of L’Officiel de la Mode. The series was conceived as using art and fashion in paying homage to African queens,” the magazine’s statement noted. “Beyonce mentioned the artist Fela Kuti in the interview as one of her musical inspirations. It was later misquoted as the inspiration for the shoot. We would like to clarify that it is not the case.”

“As for the artistic makeup, the inspiration came from several African rituals during which paint is used on the face. We find the images beautiful and inspiring,” the statement concluded.