On November 8th, 2018 Victoria Secret held their annual fashion show, which to no surprise was all anyone could talk about … but was it for the wrong reasons this year.
Victoria Secret is a brand that is known for their lingerie and has been at the top of the retail ladder for years. Their message is to empower women with all things feminine and sexy, and how they want to make us feel when we shop with them.
I am one of the millions of people who look forward to November and December when my Instagram starts being filled with models going for castings, and celebratory videos of girls landing their dream job. I remember sitting on the sofa in my common room at school, with all of my friends, watching the 2015 fashion show, and choosing which look we would wear if we were walking in the show or practicing our walks through the corridor. But this year, instead of magazines and social media focusing on who was walking in the show, and the extravagant designs that were worn, the focus seemed to be on the diversity of who was walking in terms of size or gender and lack thereof.
A lot of the headlines following the show were about comments made by Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Razek. In an interview with Vogue, Ed Razek was asked whether Victoria Secret felt the need to “address the way the market is shifting”, and his response was, “I think we address the way the market is shifting on a constant basis. If you’re asking if we’ve considered putting a transgender model in the show or looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have.”, “We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world.”. Ed Razek, later on, said in the interview; “Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is.”.
This was not received well by the public, as the show was being compared to Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty lingerie show. But another figure in the public eye, and who is part of the LGBTQ community is Gigi Gorgeous. Gigi Gorgeous is a Youtuber, and on her channel, you will find videos about fashion and makeup, to her talking about her transition and the struggles and obstacles she has overcome. In a recent video she posted, she talked about the controversy surrounding Victoria Secret and how she will now no longer support them as a customer or as a woman. In the video she explained that Victoria Secret to her was “a way of life, it was me coming into my feminity, it was a part of my transition”, and how she got emotional trying their bra on for the first time because she finally filled it out. She has now said that this is “the last time” she is going to be wearing a Victoria Secret bra and continues to remove it and throw it behind her in the video.
Through all this controversy and the comments made by Razek, I believe that Victoria Secret is being true to themselves and representing their brand in a way they want to. As was quoted earlier, they don’t market to the whole world. They have tried to include diversity through the years, with models such as Winnie Harlow who has vitiligo, or models like Duckie Thot who is an Australian model but originated in Sudan, both cast in this years show. The girls on the runway, yes, aren’t plus-size and yes, might be considered unrealistic in terms of body goals, but the truth is, girls still idolize these women, not because of their size, but because of their motivation and strive to achieve better. How they give us insights into their life, be it through Youtube vlogs (Romee Strijd – my favourite model) about what they eat, what they do when they have days off or even where they are spending the holidays, its a way of us getting inside a world that we may not have the chance to enter.
One of the most special moments of this year’s show was when Adriana Lima did her final walk and thanked VS and the audience. This shows how much one company can mean to an individual as this is their career, their job, their life. This proves, comments in the media should not be made as this is someone’s career, and it is not the models’ wrongdoing, it is how the brand wishes to promote their company.
Models always speak of Victoria’s Secret as a “sisterhood” and being around “a group of girls that motivates and inspires you.”
Taking all this into account, I will still continue to watch the show each year and purchase their lingerie. Although they may have said some things that they can’t take back and I do not agree with everything that was said, they were honest about their decisions and still continue to empower women through their brand image. I do hope that they will use this experience as a positive stepping stone into the 21st century and start to not step outside of the box but to step into the real world.
My favourite model – Romee Strijd
My favourite outfit – Bella Hadid
My favourite moment – Adriana Lima’s final walk
If you wish to read more in detail about this topic, I will pop a few links here for you guys which I found very interesting, including the Vogue interview with Ed Razek.
The Washington Post – https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2018/12/03/victorias-secret-fashion-show-cant-escape-controversy-performer-slams-lack-inclusivity/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9ac36882975e
Gigi Gorgeous Youtube Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QWoLqA1lgw
Adriana Lima’s last walk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkIH07M7Fk0