The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has been surrounded by controversy in the past, and this year it’s just not happening, according to model Shanina Shaik, who leaked the news during an interview with The Daily Telegraph.
“Unfortunately, the Victoria’s Secret show won’t be happening this year,” Shaik told the British publication. “It’s something I’m not used to because every year around this time I’m training like an angel. But I’m sure in the future something will happen, which I’m pretty sure about.”
The Australian model walked in the lingerie fashion show in in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018, Entertainment Tonight reports. “I’m sure they’re trying to work on branding and new ways to do the show, because it’s the best show in the world,” she said.
In May, the company said it would no longer televise the fashion show. “We are taking a fresh look at every aspect of our business – from merchandising, marketing and brand positioning, to our real estate portfolio, digital business and cost structure … literally everything,” a press release from Victoria’s Secret read.
“We must evolve and change to grow. With that in mind, we have decided to re-think the traditional Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Going forward we don’t believe network television is the right fit,” the statement continued.
The company said they are focusing on developing exciting and dynamic content and a new kind of event. It appears that new content will not include a fashion show, according to Shaik. CBS News has reached out to L Brand’s for confirmation and is awaiting response.
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has long been criticized as a display of unattainable, unrealistic ideals of beauty. And Les Wexner, CEO of L Brands, parent company of Victoria’s Secret, has recently received scrutiny for his close connection to Jeffery Epstien, who served as Wexner’s financial adviser.
L Brands has repeatedly said it has no direct company ties to the convicted sex offender, but it is still investigating any evidence of Epstein’s role at the company. The review is being led by L Brands’ independent directors – and not Wexner, whose decades-long personal and financial relationship with Epstein has come back to haunt L Brands’ stock price the past few weeks. Following Epstein’s July arrest for sex trafficking of underage girls, L Brands shares dropped 10%.
Details about the decades-old dealings between Epstein and 81-year-old Wexner could further sink the fortunes of the ailing lingerie retailer, damaging a brand that critics have called out of touch in the #MeToo era.
Wexner isn’t the only L Brands executive to come under fire in recent months. Ahead of last year’s televised fashion show, the company’s chief marketing officer Ed Razek made derogatory comments about plus-sized and transgender models.
“We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes…No one had any interest in it, still don’t,” Razek said. When he was asked about including transgender models he said, “I don’t think we should…the show is a fantasy.”
Razek later apologized and said they would cast a transgender model. His interview unleashed an angry response online, but Razek remained at the company.
While Victoria’s Secret has built a $7 billion lingerie empire on the idea that “sex sells,” declining profits and criticism that the TV special is out of step with the times may mean changes are coming.