The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Is Officially Over
It's been a ride.
The annual celebration of skin, high camp, and top 40 superstars known as the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show won't be gracing the airwaves this year with its glitter catwalk and sky-high heels. According to L Brands, which owns the mall lingerie giant, the show won't go on after declining viewership, criticism of the brand's former CMO Ed Razek, and rumors from models stating that the show wouldn't be happening this year. The fashion show has aired every year since 1995.
"We think it's important to evolve the messaging of Victoria’s Secret," L Brands CEO Stu Burdoerfer said in a statement. "We will be communicating to customers but nothing similar in magnitude to the fashion show. We will communicate to customers through lots of vehicles, including social media and other channels."
Business Insider notes that last year, viewership reached 3.3 million. Compared to 2013's show, which had 9.7 million, and 2016's, which nabbed 6.6 million, it was a marked decline. While the show generally aired before the holidays, Victoria's Secret did try to have summertime specials and swap locations from New York to Los Angeles and even Shanghai, though those jet-set jaunts are nothing but distant memories now. Victoria's Secret model Shanina Shaik mentioned that this year's extravaganza would be canceled, but the brand never made an official statement until today.
The Cut cites a myriad of reasons for waning interest. Rihanna, who actually performed at the 2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, held her revolutionary Savage x Fenty fashion show in 2019. In addition to looking old, tired, and staid in comparison to Rihanna's outing, the site notes that Victoria's Secret was making headlines for the wrong reasons this year: "Victoria's Secret has become emblematic of an outdated kind of sex appeal, one that was sold to women but catered to men. It also probably doesn't help that Les Wexner, the former CEO of L Brands, was a well-known client of Jeffrey Epstein."
The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show was also criticized for its lack of inclusivity. Angel Behati Prinsloo said that was fine and Razek, who has since left the company, also noted that the show is a "fantasy," which meant that transgender and plus-size models didn't need to be included. (The Cut notes that a plus-size model and a transgender model did appear on in-store ads this year.) Earlier this year, L Brands said that it was considering making changes to the fashion show, but never mentioned an outright cancellation.
The Victoria's Secret Angels, which included major names such as Tyra Banks, Gisele Bündchen, Lily Aldridge, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Candice Swanepoel, became household names because of their association with the brand. There's no news as to whether the mantle of Angel will continue without the show and its winged struts.
L Brands CEO Les Wexner insists that the company is thinking of something to replace the Fashion Show, saying that it was "developing exciting and dynamic content and a new kind of event — delivered to our customers on platforms that she's glued to."