In the present #MeToo age when females talk about inclusiveness, beauty norms, and body positivity, the sexy version that Victoria’s Secret has continued to peddle seems out of contact enormously. That disconnect (along with the close links between corporate CEO Les Wexner and Jeffrey Epstein, who was charged with the sex trafficking of underage women) has resulted in decreasing revenues and a lingerie brand image crisis. In May, after slumping ratings, the brand announced it was canceling its annual Secret fashion show on network television. And now it seems more proactive measures are being taken by the business to refresh its tired identity.
The publicly transgender Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio published on Instagram on Friday that she will appear in the upcoming Secret Pink campaign of Victoria, the first step towards inclusiveness in the advertising of the company. Victoria’s Secret Angel Lily Alridge commented with a lengthy string of emoji hearts, while LGBTQ advocate and Orange Is
the New Black star Laverne Cox wrote “Finally!” (Sampaio also created history as the first transgender model to appear on Vogue Paris ‘ cover in 2017).
However, Wexner, the 81- Chief Executive Officer of Columbus, Ohio-based firm L Brands, Inc. (formerly Limited Brands, Inc.) which includes Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works as a stable business, announced on Monday the resignation of Chief Marketing Officer Edward Raznek in a letter to staff sent to The Hollywood Reporter by the business.
In a November Vogue interview, the back-to-back news recalled Razek’s contentious and out-of-touch reply that there was no room in Victoria’s Secret fashion show for plus-size or transgender models “because the show is a fantasy.” Comments left the business in hot water, and Raznek publicly apologized on Twitter. But the fantasy might (or perhaps should) have been his future job, which surprisingly continued for an additional eight months.
“I got the note that Ed sent to his team below,” Wexner wrote in Monday’s memo. “After my discussions with him and with his approval, I’m sharing it with you all. There are few with Ed’s enthusiasm and skill in this sector, but I have confidence in our amazing teams, talent, and product, and I look forward to the future as we develop and change. While we’re reviewing how to best transition Ed’s job, Brand’s SVP and Creative Ed Wolf will serve as Brand and Creator’s interim head.”
Razek’s email read: “I’ve been with L Brands for so long. With the exception of Les, I’ve been with L Brands for more than anyone else. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and every one of you. I’ve valued your collaboration, your energy, your teamwork, and your passion. You’re, each one of you, a pleasure to work with, and a pleasure to be with.”
“I shared with Les a few weeks ago my intention to withdraw sometimes in mid-August, because, as some of you have got to know, we shared so much together for so many years.” The 71-year-old executive, who has been hand-picking Victoria’s Secret Models for over 15 years persisted.
Razek ended his remarks by thanking his colleagues for “the smiles, the hellos, the laughs” and “the mission”: “I couldn’t have been more fortunate than having been with all of you in this exceptional and quite unique organization. I really hope you understand, deep in your hearts, how unique this place is. I do – more than ever. Lots of love and respect for all of you.”