The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Is Returning to TV
After a four-year hiatus, the Angels may be returning to the runway. That’s right, the Victoria’s Secret show is going back on the air. The brand’s chief financial officer, Timothy Johnson, revealed the news during the company’s earnings call last week. But it seems like things will look a little different this time around. After years of controversies, exposes, and documentaries focused on the toxic nature of Victoria’s Secret and the show, the brand is eager to show the world how they’ve changed. As of now, we don’t know too much about about the show other than it’s happening, but as we wait for more news, here’s a look back at the history of Victoria’s Secret’s problems regarding the fashion show, and a little of what we can expect from its return.
Why did the Victoria’s Secret fashion show ever get canceled?
First, though, a reminder. Back in 2019, the mounting criticism surrounding Victoria’s Secret due to their lack of model diversity reached a breaking point and the brand decided to cancel the show for only the second time since 2001. At the time, CEO of L Brands, Les Wexner, (Victoria’s Secret’s parent company), said network television was no longer the “right fit” for the show.
Though in the beginning, the Victoria’s Secret show was pushing boundaries in the form of body diversity—featuring models that couldn’t find a place on the ultra-thin high fashion runways in the early 2000s—by the 2010s, it was clear they could no longer keep up with the diversity demanded of them by the public. During an interview in November 2018 with Vogue, Victoria’s Secret’s Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek said the brand would not put transwomen on the runway because “the show is a fantasy.” After an immense amount of backlash, Razek apologized for his comments coming “across as insensitive,” and ultimately backtracked on them. “To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show,” he said. “We’ve had transgender models come to casting… And like many others, they didn’t make it…But it was never about gender. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are.”
It was too late, though, and the damage was done. Razek stepped down from his position in August 2019, and the 2018 show, which aired a few weeks after the Vogue interview had the worst ratings in Victoria’s Secret fashion show’s 18 years history.
That wasn’t the end of the brand’s troubles, however, because in February 2020, The New York Times published a story investigating “the widespread bullying and harassment of employees and models” at the company, specifically accusing Razek of sexual harassment, bullying, and other misogynistic actions, abetted by Wexner, who stepped down from his position that same month. Razek denied the allegations, calling them “categorically untrue, misconstrued or taken out of context.”
Then, in July 2022, Hulu aired Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons, a documentary revealing more instances of misogyny and body-shaming within the company, as well as mistreatment of staffers and models. Victoria’s Secret responded to the documentary by telling People that they became a stand alone company in 2021, ending their relationship with L Brands. “The company featured in this docuseries does not reflect today's Victoria's Secret & Co.,” they said. “Today, we are proud to be a different company, with a new leadership team and mission to welcome, celebrate, and champion all women.”
How will the Victoria’s Secret fashion show look different this time around?
So, this upcoming show will be the first from the “new” Victoria’s Secret, and according to spokesperson, that “new brand projection and mission will continue to be our guiding principle.” They continued, saying, Victoria’s Secret is “always innovating and ideating in all spheres of the business to continue to put our customer at the center of all we do.”
What has the response been like to the news of the new Victoria’s Secret fashion show?
Lizzo, specifically, has spoken out about the return of the show. “This is a win for inclusivity for inclusivity’s sake,” she wrote on Twitter in response to the news. “But if brands start doing this only because they’ve received backlash then what happens when the ‘trends’ change again? Do the CEOs of these companies value true inclusivity? Or do they just value money?”
When will the Victoria’s Secret fashion show air?
As of now, we don’t have a date for the show, though likely it won’t be until the end of the year. In the past, the show has been filmed in November before airing on TV in early December.
Who will walk in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show?
Again we don’t know. It’s possible we will see the return of some classic angels like Adriana Lima, Candice Swanepoel, and Kendall Jenner. Now that Gisele Bündchen is back to work, she could also return to the runway, though she’s claimed she’s done with runways. Hailey Bieber and Bella Hadid have starred in recent campaigns for the brand, as have Paloma Elsesser and Jill Kortleve, so they could make appearances. The brand has also recently enlisted athletes like Megan Rapinoe and Naomi Osaka, as well as actors like Priyanka Chopra Jonas, so it’s possible they could make an appearance.
In the past, the show has also featured some musical acts, but as of now, we don’t know if the new iteration will follow that tradition.