Victoria’s Secret fashion show is back—here’s what’s happened in the last 5 years

Entertainment

Victoria’ Secret will premiere its new fashion show Tuesday (local time) in the form of an 85-minute streaming film, after the legacy event was canceled five years ago amid declining ratings and controversies that included the sexual harassment of models, ties to Jeffrey Epstein and a culture of misogyny within the brand.
PARIS, FRANCE – NOVEMBER 30: (L-R) Adriana Lima, Elsa Hosk, Alessandra Ambrosio and Josephine Skriver walk the runway at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show on November 30, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Victoria’s Secret)
Key facts
  • Victoria’s Secret World Tour, which will stream on Amazon Prime, will feature fashion designs and art by 20 creative professionals from around the world, musical performances by Doja Cat and Sabrina Carpenter, and documentaries about the artists and designers.
  • Many of the brand’s famous models will return, including Adriana Lima, Candice Swanepoel and Gigi Hadid, but the brand has interspersed their cast of traditional “angels” with more diverse names that include South Sudanese model Adut Akech, transgender DJ Honey Dijon and plus-size French singer Yseult.
  • The clothes in the fashion show won’t be mass produced and the art won’t be sold or used by the brand beyond the film, a move meant to “give the women as big a platform as possible while receiving nothing in return,” according to the New York Times.
  • The cancelation of the 2019 Victoria’s Secret fashion show, broadcast yearly on network television, came amid several years of controversies for the brand: Australian supermodel Robyn Lawley in 2018 called for a boycott on the brand for “telling women there is only one kind” of beautiful body, parent company L Brands’ CEO Les Wexner’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein were revealed in 2019, and a 2020 investigation by the New York Times said the brand had fostered a “culture of misogyny, bullying and harassment.”
U.S. model Jasmine Tookes presents the $3 million 2016 fantasy bra during the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Crucial quote

“We haven’t forgotten our past, but we’re also speaking to the present,” Raul Martinez, the brand’s chief creative director, said at an event for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show earlier this month.

Key background

The first Victoria’s Secret fashion show was held at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in 1995.

Photos from the event show a no-frills runway with models in the brand’s signature slips and push-up bras, which stayed largely the same until angel wings became the now-iconic focal point in 1999—the same year Tyra Banks famously walked the show with a billowing silver cape at her back.

From there, the show’s production value skyrocketed and the brand’s core group of models became household names, including Banks, Gisele Bündchen and Heidi Klum, who was serenaded down the runway by her then-husband Seal in 2005.

The show made its network television broadcast debut on ABC in 2001 and became an almost yearly event with the goal of topping itself every year—the wings got bigger, the lingerie more expensive and the musical acts more famous.

Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande are among those who’ve performed.

Karolina Kurkova, Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bundchen and Adriana Lima. GETTY
Big number

$15 million. That’s how much the “fantasy bra”—a bejeweled bra worn by one select model in the show each year–was worth in 2000.

It was the most expensive ever showcased and holds a place in the Guinness World Records as the most expensive item of lingerie ever created. Gisele Bündchen wore the bra that year and in 2005, when it was worth $12.5 million.

Tangent

The cancelation of the show came after the 2018 rendition saw the lowest viewership in history, Fox Business reported. A total of 3.2 million people watched the event that year, the fifth straight year of declining viewership.

The most-watched show ever was in 2011 when 10.3 million people tuned in. It was the debut Victoria’s Secret show for supermodel Karlie Kloss and featured performances by Kanye West, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and Maroon 5.

By 2016, viewership had fallen to 6.7 million and continued to decline to 4.9 million in 2017.

Chief critic

A three-part documentary series on Hulu called Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons debuted in 2022.

Archival footage and interviews were used to explore the founding of the brand and the past of billionaire founder Les Wexner, who was linked to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein through his business dealings, financial management and real estate.

The film said Epstein posed as a recruiter for Victoria’s Secret catalog models to gain access to young women, including a model who told the New York Times Epstein told her to undress and groped her.

The documentary also accused Wexner of turning a bind eye to sexual harassment or assault at the company, particularly under former chief marketing officer, Ed Razek.

Former Public Relations employee Casey Crowe Taylor recalled in the film a time Razek allegedly said, “If I had a dollar for every time a sexual harassment case came across my email, I’d be rich.”

Razek denied the allegations. The documentary also examined the lasting impacts of the unrealistic body standards the company pushed in the early aughts.

Model Dorothea Barth-Jörgensen testified the brand created an “unattainable” image and Tyra Banks—who is 5’10″—said she was at one point told she needed to weigh 113 pounds. The show was investigated and directed by Matt Tyrnauer.

What to watch for

Victoria’s Secret World Tour will debut on Amazon Prime Tuesday, Sept. 26.

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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