Victoria’s Secret blasted by models, who sign open letter demanding protection from sexual misconduct in workplace

August 7, 2019

by Daphne Sorenson

Victoria’s Secret models backstage at the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC)

More than 100 models and several of their allies (including Models Alliance and Times Up) have signed an open letter to Victoria’s Secret CEO John Mehas to demand an end to the sexual abuse and sexual harassment that has allegedly been running rampant against Victoria’s Secret models.

The letter reads, in part: “In the past few weeks, we have heard numerous allegations of sexual assault, alleged rape, and sex trafficking of models and aspiring models. While these allegations may not have been aimed at Victoria’s Secret directly, it is clear that your company has a crucial role to play in remedying the situation.  From the headlines about L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner’s close friend and associate, Jeffrey Epstein, to the allegations of sexual misconduct by photographers Timur Emek, David Bellemere, and Greg Kadel, it is deeply disturbing that these men appear to have leveraged their working relationships with Victoria’s Secret to lure and abuse vulnerable girls.”

Most of the models who signed the open letter are not very well-known in the industry or are well-known models who are over the age of 30, such as Milla Jovovich, Emme, Doutzen Kroes, and Carolyn Murphy. Noticeably absent from the letter are supermodels who’ve been steadily employed by Victoria’s Secret in recent years, such as Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Behati Prinsloo, Jasmine Tookes, Barbara Palvin and Taylor Hill. Adriana Lima, who retired from Victoria’s Secret runway shows in 2018, was also not on the list of people who signed the letter.

L Brands (based in Columbus, Ohio) is the parent company of Victoria’s Secret.  The letter was published just two days after L Brands chief marketing officer Ed Razek publicly announced he was leaving the company. Wexner and Razek had close ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who was arrested again in July 2019, for sex crimes, specifically, for sex trafficking of women and underage girls.

Razek came under fire in 2018, when he said in a Vogue interview that Victoria’s Secret was not interested in hiring plus-sized or transgender models. In August 2019, Victoria’s Secret hired its first transgender model: Valentina Sampaio, who posted the news on her Instagram account.

The open letter blasting Victoria’s Secret is the latest blow to the company, which officially canceled the 2019 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show only a few months after it was announced that the show would not be televised anymore. Victoria’s Secret and its Pink spinoff brand have also been experiencing a sharp decline in sales in recent years.

August 10, 2019 UPDATE: Convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City on August 10, 2019. According to the Associated Press, he died in the morning of an apparent suicide by hanging. The Associated Press also reports that although Epstein, who was 66, had been on suicide watch in the weeks leading up to his death, he was not on suicide watch at the time he was found dead. He had been denied bail while waiting to be put on trial on charges of sex-trafficking of underage girls. Of course, Epstein’s sudden death has fueled conspiracy theories that he might have been murdered to prevent him from exposing who his rich and powerful clients were in the sex crimes that Epstein was accused of committing.

Bebe fashion retailer teams up with Bebe Rexha to launch body-positive ‘Bebe Loves Bebe’ campaign

August 5, 2019

(Photo courtesy of Bebe)

The following is a press release from Bebe:

Grammy-nominated artist Bebe Rexha has partnered up with fashion brand Bebe, to debut an empowering national marketing campaign ‘BEBE LOVES BEBE.’ The campaign was created to celebrate the powerful idea of loving and accepting yourself, feeling incredible at any time, all the time.  Rexha appears in the brand’s Fall 2019 campaign, which will debut throughout the U.S. on social, out of home, and in print with the launch of Vogue’s September issue.

The campaign was inspired by Rexha, her honest unveiling of the fashion community and their injustice when she was nominated for a Grammy earlier this year. In an empowering video on Instagram, Rexha called out designers who failed to dress all celebrities, and those who do not fit “a runway size.” Rexha urged women and men to love their bodies and feel beautiful at any size, hence the campaign hashtag, #LoveYourself.

“It’s incredible to be part of this Bebe campaign, it’s not only about me loving the brand, but more importantly about me loving myself!  I hope to inspire and empower women all over the world with this message of self-love, I believe it is super important,” commented Bebe Rexha. “I grew up wearing Bebe, it was the coolest piece of fashion you could have, so to be able to mix fashion and my music is so fun,” Rexha added.

Joey Gabbay, CEO of Bluestar Alliance and manager of the Bebe brand commented, “The bebe brand has a passionate consumer following, one that loves the brand and all it has to offer. Similarly, Bebe Rexha has passionate fans around the world that love her, her music and what she stands for. Beyond sharing a name, this was a natural partnership as Bebe is a longtime fan of the brand herself.”

Rexha will be making a personal appearance at Macy’s Herald Square on November 7, to promote the Bebe Fall/holiday collection.  The collection includes sportswear, outerwear, swimwear, active footwear, handbags, watches, jewelry, eyewear, accessories and kids. The full 2019 Bebe collection is available at department stores nationwide, as well as online at Bebe.com.

“Bebe is a full lifestyle brand, and continues to garner a strong following: it’s clothing is sexy yet comfortable, and can take any customer from day to night,” comments Ralph Gindi, COO of Bluestar Alliance. “The Bebe customer, after all, is a notoriously loyal one, and stays true to the brand by accessorizing its apparel, from head-to-toe, with all its product offerings.” The Bebe brand has consistently remained true to its DNA since its inception, known to accentuate the customer’s body, but also fit into one’s lifestyle with ease.

For exclusive behind the scenes photos and video please visit www.bebe.com. To stay up to date with the latest news from Bebe follow us at @bebe_stores on Instagram and become a fan of Bebe on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bebe.

About Bebe:

Bebe is the go-to destination for chic, contemporary fashion. The brand evokes a mindset – an attitude, not an age. It’s a true original, always defining fashion’s next stride forward. Designed for the confident, sexy, modern woman, Bebe is a global  lifestyle brand that embodies a sensual, sophisticated lifestyle.

About Bebe Rexha

Two-time Grammy®-nominated New York City native Bebe Rexha is a musical force to be reckoned with.  She has accumulated over 12 million overall single sales, over 6 billion total global streams, and a radio audience over 10 billion.  Her debut, RIAA Gold album, Expectations (released June 2018) contained the massive single “I’m a Mess” and global chart-topping smash “Meant To Be” (featuring Florida Georgia Line), now RIAA Certified 7x Platinum.  #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for a record-setting 50 straight weeks, the longest reign ever by a female lead artist, “Meant To Be” won Best Collaboration at the 2018 iHeart Radio Music Awards.  It was subsequently nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance at the 61st annual Grammy Awards® in February 2019, where Bebe was also nominated for Best New Artist. Most recently, Bebe debuted her newest single, “Last Hurrah,” which sets the stage for her upcoming second album release. Reviewing the song, Billboard said, “’Last Hurrah’ is also a triumphant sequel to Rexha’s last single, ‘I’m a Mess.’” Rexha will debut new music this summer, with her new album coming early next year.

One of the youngest artists to receive the Songwriters Hall Of Fame’s prestigious AbeOlman Scholarship award (2012), Bebe formally burst onto the scene the following year, when she wrote “Monster,” a worldwide hit for Eminem and Rihanna that was certified 6x-platinum by the RIAA.  Bebe went on to co-write and carry the instantly recognizable hook for the 3x-platinum “Hey Mama,” by David Guetta, Nicki Minaj and Afrojack, nominated for a Billboard Music Award for Top Dance/Electronic Song.  Bebe also hit #1 on the Billboard Pop and Rap charts with her RIAA platinum “Me, Myself & I” with G-Eazy. In 2017, Bebe released the critically acclaimed EPs, All Your Fault: Part 1 (with “I Got You”), and All Your Fault: Part 2 (with “Meant To Be”). Now in 2019, Bebe has amassed over 2 billion YouTube views and counting. In conjunction with Grammy® Week 2019, Bebe launched the Grammy® Music Education Coalition’s (GMEC) national campaign on behalf of its new All-Star Ambassador program, whose members also include Luis Fonsi, Rita Ora, Kristin Chenoweth, Regina Spektor, War on Drugs, and others.

About Bluestar Alliance LLC

Founded by Joseph Gabbay and Ralph Gindi in 2006, Bluestar owns, manages, and markets a portfolio of consumer brands that span across many tiers of distribution from luxury to mass market. This portfolio consists of major department store retail brands including Brookstone, Tahari, Bebe, Kensie, Catherine Malandrino, Nanette Lepore, Joan Vass, Michael Bastian, English Laundry and Limited Too.

Each brand is uniquely positioned maintaining the brand heritage and equity, considering new categories and current tiers of distribution. Bluestar’s current network of international and domestic partners offers the opportunity to take a niche brand to a visible worldwide lifestyle brand. Since its inception, Bluestar has acquired select brands with current retail sales exceeding $3.0 billion.  The company manages a current portfolio of over 300 licensees and a growing branded retail platform of over 100 stores worldwide throughout North America, Europe, Australia, South America, Asia, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, India and Russia.

 

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show canceled for 2019

July 31, 2019

by Daphne Sorenson

Victoria’s Secret’s models at the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
(Photo by Jeff Neira/ABC)

The annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has been canceled for 2019. At this point, it is unknown how long this hiatus will last or if the show will never come back. The news comes after the May 2019 announcement that the show was not going to be televised after ending its partnership with ABC.

Victoria’s Secret model Shanina Shaik told Australia’s Daily Telegraph: “Unfortunately, the Victoria’s Secret Show won’t be happening this year. It’s something I’m not used to because every year around this time I’m training like an Angel.”

Shaik was a Victoria’s Secret Angels model at the show in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018.

It’s the latest blow to Victoria’s Secret, which has been experiencing declining sales and store closures.

TV ratings for the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show had also been on a rapid decline. The show, which debuted in 1995, wasn’t televised until 2001, when it got 12.4 million U.S. viewers on ABC. It remains the highest-rated Victoria’s Secret show for a single TV network, according to Nielsen. CBS televised the show in 2002, 2003 and from 2005 to 2017. During those years, the ratings ranged from 10.5 million U.S. viewers (in 2002) to 5 million U.S. viewers (in 2017). ABC picked up the show in 2018, when it had 3.3 million U.S viewers.

In addition, Victoria’s Secret (whose parent company is L Brands) has been losing goodwill due to widespread complaints over bad customer service, decreasing quality of products, and an outdated modeling image that pushes the idea that only very thin women can be “sexy.”

L Brands chief marketing officer Ed Razek came under fire when he admitted to Vogue in 2018 that Victoria’s Secret discriminates against plus-sized models and transgender models by excluding them from them campaigns and shows, because he said that these types of models don’t fit the Victoria’s Secret image. He stood firm in saying that Victoria’s Secret had no plans to change these hiring practices to include plus-sized or transgender models.

[August 5, 2019 UPDATE: Victoria’s Secret has hired its first transgender model: Valentina Sampaio, who posted the news on her Instagram account.]

In July 2019, L Brands chairman/CEO Les Wexler faced scrutiny when the New York Times revealed that from the early 1990s to 2007, he had close business and personal ties with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2007 to hiring a prostitutes (underage and over the age of 18). Epstein was arrested again in July 2019 on charges of underage sex trafficking. According to the New York Times report, Wexler named Epstein a trustee of several of Wexler’s foundations, and he gave Epstein power of attorney over much of his financial assets for a number of years. Their business relationship ended in 2007.)

Epstein, who was also a close associate of Razek, used his position of influence to be a VIP guest at numerous Victoria’s Secret events in the 1990s and 2000s, according to the New York Times. So far, L Brands has not publicly commented on the New York Times’ reports of Epstein’s connections to at least two of the company’s senior-level executives.

August 8, 2019 UPDATE: Razek has resigned from L Brands. Meanwhile, Wexner has written a letter to one of his foundations stating that Epstein “misappropriated” at least $46 million from Wexner and his personal interests. Wexner did not allege that Epstein embezzled any funds from L Brands.

August 10, 2019 UPDATE: Convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City on August 10, 2019. According to the Associated Press, he died in the morning of an apparent suicide by hanging. The Associated Press also reports that although Epstein, who was 66, had been on suicide watch in the weeks leading up to his death, he was not on suicide watch at the time he was found dead. He had been denied bail while waiting to be put on trial on charges of sex-trafficking of underage girls. Of course, Epstein’s sudden death has fueled conspiracy theories that he might have been murdered to prevent him from exposing who his rich and powerful clients were in the sex crimes that Epstein was accused of committing.

DSW launches inaugural Runway Redone fashion show; invites all women to apply through Boots for All Casting Call

July 17, 2019

Runway Redone

The following is a press release from DSW:

DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse (NYSE: DBI), a leading branded footwear and accessories retailer, announced today that it is teaming up with female powerhouse Create & Cultivate to launch Runway Redone: Boots for All Casting Call. Hosted by body activist and model Hunter McGrady, Runway Redone will shake up fashion week and reinvent norms by inviting women of all backgrounds to walk the runway in New York Citythis Fall. Submissions for the digital casting call are open now throughJuly 31, 2019.

Runway Redone kicks off DSW’s Fall 2019 campaign celebrating inclusivity, individuality, and self-expression. Participants of Runway Redone will showcase DSW’s expansive Fall collection of boots and will be featured in DSW’s Fall marketing campaign.

“DSW is a warehouse of possibilities for every style and personality, so this Fall we wanted to create an experiential moment that celebrates and encourages self-expression through shoes,” said DSW CMO Amy Stevenson. “We think Create & Cultivate is the perfect partner to bring this to life with us because of their inclusive-focus and highly-engaged, diverse female following.”

“I’m excited to host Runway Redone because I love the idea of giving women a platform to show off their individuality and confidence on a stage normally reserved for a select few,” said Hunter McGrady. “I’m looking forward to inspiring our participants to embrace themselves during this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Women across America are invited to digitally enter the Runway Redone: Boots for All Casting Call at www.createcultivate.com/dsw-runway-redone between July 17 and July 31, 2019, to enter for the chance to win the following:

  • Walk in the Runway Redone show in NYC on September 4, 2019 wearing DSW’s new Fall collection alongside DSW influencers and associates
  • Get styled by celebrity stylist Samantha Brown and prep for the show with a full day of expert-led workshops designed to inspire style, self-expression, and confidence
  • Be featured in DSW’s 2019 Fall marketing campaign
  • Round-trip airline tickets to NYC
  • Hotel in NYC for two nights

“At Create & Cultivate, we work to advance inclusive conversations and champion equal representation for all. We’re excited to join forces with DSW to bring this messaging to the runway during one of the most prominent fashion events of the year,” shares Create & Cultivate CEO and Founder Jaclyn Johnson.

Learn more and enter Runway Redone: Boots for All Casting Call by visiting: www.createcultivate.com/dsw-runway-redone or https://www.dsw.com/en/us/content/dsw-boots-for-all-casting.

To sign up to be a DSW VIP member, visit www.dsw.com/en/us/vip.

Join the conversation on social media by following @DSW @CreateCultivate and using #MyDSW and #DSWRunwayRedone.

ABOUT DSW
DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse is a leading branded footwear and accessories retailer offering a wide selection of brand name and designer dress, casual and athletic footwear and accessories for women, men and kids. DSW operates more than 500 locations in 44 states and operates a robust ecommerce website at www.dsw.com, a mobile site at m.dsw.com and via mobile app. Founded in 1991, DSW is a division of Columbus, Ohio-based Designer Brands Inc.

ABOUT CREATE & CULTIVATE
Create & Cultivate is the leading online platform and offline conference women looking to create and cultivate the career of their dreams. Led by CEO and founder Jaclyn Johnson, the nationwide conference gathers the best in the business including CEOs, content creators, and celebrities like Martha Stewart, Ashley Graham, Jessica Alba, Meghan Markle and Kim Kardashian.  Through their online platform and curated events, Create & Cultivate offers a 365-day conversation around entrepreneurship and works to advance inclusive conversations that empower women.

2019 D23 Expo: Disney Parks, Experience and Products programming announced

July 17, 2019

Disney World’s Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida (Image courtesy of Disney)

The following is a press release from Disney:

D23 Expo 2019 will be a must for fans of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. An immersive pavilion will provide an insider’s look at new themed lands, attractions, shows, and more, in addition to a jam-packed schedule of entertaining presentations and a number of exclusive shopping opportunities for every Disney fan.

Showcasing an array of new experiences for guests around the world to enjoy for years to come, the Disney Parks “Imagining Tomorrow, Today” pavilion will give fans a unique look at the exciting developments underway at Disney parks around the world. Attendees will see a dedicated space showcasing the historic transformation of Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort. They will also see Tony Stark’s latest plans to recruit guests to join alongside the Avengers in fully immersive areas filled with action and adventure in Hong Kong, Paris, and California.

The fan-favorite Hall D23 presentation with Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, will take place Sunday, August 25, at 10:30 a.m. Guests will be treated to more details on much-anticipated attractions, experiences, and transformative storytelling that set Disney apart.

During the three-day event, fans can scoop up never-before-seen collectibles across the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products-operated retail shops on the Expo floor: shopDisney.com | Disney Store, Disney DreamStore, Mickey’s of Glendale, and Mickey’s of Glendale Pin Store. Attendees will be introduced to new collections that celebrate milestone anniversaries and favorite characters across Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel, along with must-have official D23 Expo 2019 gear and accessories, nostalgic Disney Parks-inspired items, and limited-edition collectibles celebrating Walt Disney Imagineering’s heritage.

There are many other exciting offerings to discover, including several special panel presentations:

The Music and Sounds of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Friday, August 23, 12:30 p.m., D23 Expo Arena

Sound design is an instrumental layer of storytelling found throughout every Disney park, resort, and cruise ship. Join Imagineering Music Studio lead Matt Walker in discussing the creative process behind the original music and sound design heard throughout Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Join Imagineers and collaborators who will share how they developed all-new iconic soundscapes while taking inspiration from the rich legacy of Star Wars music and sound design, from the land’s epic John Williams-composed musical score to the sounds of low-flying starships.

Haunted Mansion: Celebrating 50 Years
Saturday, August 24, 12:30 p.m., D23 Expo Arena

Celebrate Disney’s famed home of 999 happy haunts. The attraction’s rich history has generated global fandom from both the living and the unliving. Our ghost host has assembled a procession of bodies you will be dying to meet!

Immersive Worlds: Bringing Stories to Life in Disney Parks
Saturday, August 24, 3:30 p.m., Stage 28

Disney Imagineers continue Walt Disney’s legacy in creating themed environments where beloved stories and characters come to life. Join Imagineers Joe Rohde and Scott Trowbridge to learn about the creative process for dreaming up and developing new Disney experiences as we invite guests to enter authentic worlds previously seen only in a film, a book, or one’s imagination.

Travels with Marty: A Conversation with the Sklars and Imagineers
Saturday, August 24, 6 p.m., Walt Disney Archives Stage

Celebrate the legacy of Disney Legend Marty Sklar as his colleagues, mentees, and family recount the journey of publishing his last book and discuss his lasting impact on The Walt Disney Company.

Behind the Art of Disney Costuming: Heroes, Villains, and Spaces Between
Friday, August 23, 4 p.m., Stage 28

Celebrate the imagination, passion, and attention to detail in creating Disney costumes. Go behind the scenes with the team that crafted the dazzling new Walt Disney Archives exhibit on the D23 Expo show floor and its accompanying coffee table book.

Inspiring Women Behind Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Sunday, August 25, 2 p.m., Stage 28

Meet some of the talented women from across Disney Parks, Experiences and Products responsible for bringing Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to life. Hear stories about their roles and experiences in developing everything from the original backstories of the land and its inhabitants, to the themed merchandise, galactic fare, and the interactive elements found throughout Black Spire Outpost.

Magic Journey: My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career with Kevin Rafferty
Sunday, August 25, 4 p.m., Walt Disney Archives Stage

Join veteran Imagineer Kevin Rafferty as he reminisces about a career spanning 40-plus years, from a dishwasher at Disneyland to builder of immersive worlds. Kevin explains his path to Imagineering and talks about his new book.

Marc Davis in His Own Words – Imagineering the Disney Theme Park Sunday, August 25, 5:30 p.m., Stage 28

Authors Pete Docter and Christopher Merritt reveal their magnificent two-volume tribute to the artwork and career of Disney Legend Marc Davis. Featuring artwork from Marc for the creation of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, the presentation will also highlight the 50th anniversary of the storied attraction.

Disney Store Artist Signing Schedule
Friday, August 23 – Saturday, August 24, Talent Central

Come meet the artists and designers behind some of our amazing D23 Expo product ranges:

• Disney Pixar Tiki Mug Signing with Jerome Ranft
Friday, August 23, 4 – 5 p.m., Talent Central

• Midnight Masquerade and Animator Villains Collections with Steve Thompson and Courtney Watkinson
Saturday, August 24, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m., Talent Central

• The Little Mermaid 30th Anniversary Collection with Steve Thompson, Bryan Mon, Daria Vinogradova, Diana Tran, and Cathy Clark-Ramirez
Saturday, August 24, 4 – 5 p.m., Talent Central

Disney Parks Designer Collection Artist Signing Schedule
Friday, August 23 – Sunday, August 25, Talent Central

Meet the artists behind the latest releases from this exclusive, limited-release collection of Mickey ear hats and Minnie ear headbands:

• Jerrod Maruyama  Friday, August 23, 4 – 5:30 p.m., Talent Central  Saturday, August 24, 12:30 – 2 p.m., Talent Central

• SHAG
Saturday, August 24, 2  – 3:30 p.m., Talent Central

• Noah Fine Art
Saturday, August 24, 2  – 3:30 p.m., Talent Central

• Ashley Eckstein for Her Universe
Saturday, August 24, 9:30  – 11 a.m., Talent Central
Sunday, August 25, 5 – 6:45 p.m., Talent Central

Single-day tickets for Friday and Sunday of D23 Expo 2019 are available for $89 for one-day adult admission and $69 for children ages 3–9. Gold Members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club can purchase tickets for $79 for a one-day adult admission and $59 for children ages 3–9. Single-day Saturday tickets and three-day passes are sold out. For more information on tickets and D23 Expo 2019, visit D23Expo.com.

About Disney Parks, Experiences and Products
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products brings the magic of Disney into the daily lives of families and fans around the world to create magical memories that last a lifetime.

When Walt Disney opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California, on July 17, 1955, he created a unique destination built around storytelling and immersive experiences, ushering in a new era of family entertainment. More than 60 years later, Disney has grown into one of the world’s leading providers of family travel and leisure experiences, with iconic businesses including six resort destinations with 12 theme parks and 52 resorts in the United States, Europe, and Asia with approximately 160,000 cast members; a top-rated cruise line with four ships and plans for three more to be completed in 2021, 2022, and 2023; a luxurious family beach resort in Hawai‘i; a popular vacation ownership program; and an award-winning guided family adventure business. Disney’s global consumer products operations include the world’s leading licensing business; the world’s largest children’s print publisher; the world’s largest games licensor across all platforms; more than 200 Disney store locations around the world; and the shopDisney e-commerce platform.

These experiences are created by Disney Imagineers, the creative force behind experiences found in Disney theme parks, resort hotels, cruise ships, and consumer products—including books, games, and merchandise.

About D23 Expo 2019
D23 Expo—The Ultimate Disney Fan Event—brings together all the worlds of Disney under one roof for three packed days of presentations, pavilions, experiences, concerts, sneak peeks, shopping, and more. The event provides fans with unprecedented access to Disney films, television, games, theme parks, and celebrities. For the latest D23 Expo 2019 news, visit D23expo.com. Presentations, talent, and schedule subject to change. To join the D23 Expo conversation, be sure to follow DisneyD23 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and use the hashtag #D23Expo.

About D23 The name “D23” pays homage to the exciting journey that began in 1923 when Walt Disney opened his first studio in Hollywood. D23 is the first official club for fans in Disney’s 90-plusyear history. It gives its members a greater connection to the entire world of Disney by placing them in the middle of the magic through its quarterly publication, Disney twentythree; a rich website at D23.com with members-only content; member-exclusive discounts; and special events for D23 Members throughout the year.

Fans can join D23 at Gold Membership ($99.99), Gold Family Membership ($129.99), and General Membership (complimentary) levels at D23.com. To keep up with all the latest D23 news and events, follow DisneyD23 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

 

My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream partners with UNIQLO to give away free ice cream on National Ice Cream Day 2019

July 1, 2019

(Photo courtesy of My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream)

The following is a press release from My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream:

My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream, America’s fastest growing frozen novelty brand is shaking up the category once again by partnering with UNIQLO for an in-store pop up in honor of National Ice Cream Day. On Sunday, July 21st, both brands will come together to deliver fashion, flavor and fun by offering consumers free My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream at UNIQLO locations throughout the United States. My/Mo’s poppable and delicious ice cream wrapped in sweet rice mochi dough will be available for snackers to enjoy as they browse the racks and try on the latest trends.

Shoppers at nine U.S. UNIQLO stores across New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Boston, Seattle and Chicago, will be treated to their choice of My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream. Throughout the day people can experience My/Mo’s classic mochi ice cream offerings like Sweet Mango and Ripe Strawberry as well as flavors from the brand’s new triple layer variety like S’mores and Vanilla Blueberry, which feature a texturally tantalizing core. My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream will be handed out for free at each of the below locations from 11:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M on July 21st. Ice Cream lovers are invited to stop by to join in the celebrations:

  • New York City:
    • UNIQLO 5th Avenue (666 5th Ave.)
    • UNIQLO SoHo (546 Broadway)
  • Los Angeles:
    • UNIQLO Beverly Center (8500 Beverly Blvd.)
    • UNIQLO The BLOC (700 Flower St.)
  • San Francisco:
    • UNIQLO Union Square (111 Powell St.)
  • Washington D.C.:
    • UNIQLO Union Station
  • Boston:
    • UNIQLO Faneuil Hall (245 Quincy Market)
  • Seattle:
    • UNIQLO Southcenter (141 Southcenter Mall)
  • Chicago:
    • UNIQLO Michigan Avenue (830 Michigan Ave.)

“UNIQLO is an authentic and natural partner for us this National Ice Cream Day. My/Mo and UNIQLO are each disrupting our respective industries with new takes on snacking and fashion,” said Russell Barnett, CMO of My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream. “UNIQLO shares in our love of color and play and we’re ready to bring this energy and enthusiasm to snackers across the country.”

The fun won’t stop with in-store treats! To keep the celebration going beyond National Ice Cream Day, shoppers can enter to win a year’s supply of My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream, a $500 UNIQLO shopping spree, and other exciting prizes.

For more information on My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream and UNIQLO, please visit www.mymomochi.com and www.uniqlo.com.

About My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream

Headquartered in Los Angeles, My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream is a miraculous match of magnificent mochi dough with marvelously mouthwatering ice cream. Available in a variety of fan favorite flavors, My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream gives snackers a colorful and flavorful new way to experience ice cream in a handheld, naturally portion controlled way. Made from the very best ingredients, always gluten free and rBST free, My/Mo’s offerings range from poppable and delicious ice cream wrapped in sweet rice mochi dough with dairy and vegan offerings, as well as the delectable My/Mo Ice Cream pints filled with pillowy mochi bits.

About UNIQLO LifeWear

Apparel that comes from the Japanese values of simplicity, quality and longevity. Designed to be of the time and for the time, LifeWear is made with such modern elegance that it becomes the building blocks of each individual’s style. A perfect shirt that is always being made more perfect. The simplest design hiding the most thoughtful and modern details. The best in fit and fabric made to be affordable and accessible to all. LifeWear is clothing that is constantly being innovated, bringing more warmth, more lightness, better design, and better comfort to people’s lives.

About UNIQLO and Fast Retailing

UNIQLO is a brand of Fast Retailing Co., Ltd., a leading Japanese retail holding company with global headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. UNIQLO is the largest of eight brands in the Fast Retailing Group, the others being GU, Theory, Helmut Lang, PLST (Plus T), Comptoir des Cotonniers, Princesse tam.tam and J Brand. With global sales of approximately 2.13 trillion yen for the 2018 fiscal year ending August 31, 2018 (US $19.17 billion, calculated in yen using the end of August 2018 rate of $1 = 111.1 yen), Fast Retailing is one of the world’s largest apparel retail companies, and UNIQLO is Japan’s leading specialty retailer.

UNIQLO continues to open large-scale stores in some of the world’s most important cities and locations, as part of its ongoing efforts to solidify its status as a global brand. Today the company has more than 2,000 stores in 22 markets including Japan. In alphabetical order, the other markets are Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, U.K. and U.S. In addition, UNIQLO established a social business in Bangladesh together with the Grameen Bank in 2010, and today there are several Grameen-UNIQLO stores in Dhaka.

With a corporate statement committed to changing clothes, changing conventional wisdom and change the world, Fast Retailing is dedicated to creating great clothing with new and unique value to enrich the lives of people everywhere.  For more information about UNIQLO and Fast Retailing, please visit www.uniqlo.com and www.fastretailing.com.

Sephora closes for half-day diversity training after SZA claims she was racially profiled

May 25, 2019

by Daphne Sorenson

On the morning of June 5, 2019, beauty-store company Sephora is temporarily closing all of its U.S. retail stores, distribution centers and corporate offices for a diversity-training program for company employees. The decision came after R&B singer SZA (whose real name is Solána Rowe) went public with an accusation that she was racially profiled by Sephora. According to SZA, the incident happened on April 30, 2019, while she was shopping at a Sephora store in Calabasas, California. SZA says that she had security called on her because she was wrongfully suspected of shoplifting.

SZA tweeted that day, “Lmao Sandy Sephora location 614 Calabasas called security to make sure I wasn’t stealing . We had a long talk. U have a blessed day Sandy.”

In response to SZA’s complaint, Sephora tweeted: “You are a part of the Sephora family, and we are committed to ensuring every member of our community feels welcome and included at our stores.”

In a statement on its community page, Sephora announced: “On the morning of 6/5, every Sephora store, distribution center, and corporate office in the US will close to host inclusion workshops for our employees. These values have always been at the heart of Sephora, and we’re excited to welcome everyone when we reopen. Join us in our commitment to a more inclusive beauty community.

Ironically, SZA says she was at Sephora to shop for Fenty Beauty products. SZA was part of Fenty’s lipstick campaign in 2017. Fenty founder Rihanna, whose real name is Robyn Fenty, sent a gift card and a handwritten note to SZA that read, “Go buy yo’ Fenty Beauty in peace sis! One love, Rihanna.” SZA shared these messages on an Instagram Story.

SZA is best known for her collaboration with Kendrick Lamar for the song “All the Stars” from the “Black Panther” soundtrack. The song was nominated for numerous awards, including an Oscar and a Grammy.

This isn’t the first accusation of discrimination that Sephora has faced on social media. There are dozens of messages from angry customers who claim that they were racially profiled as potential criminals, even though they say they didn’t do anything wrong.  Sephora has also been getting complaints on social media about discriminating against customers over the age of 40 and customers who have physical and intellectual challenges, by treating them rudely and dismissively. It looks like it took a celebrity to go public with a discrimination complaint before Sephora tried to do anything about it.

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show canceled from television

May 10, 2019

by Daphne Sorenson

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
Models at the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York City (Photo by Jeff Neira/ABC)

The annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has been canceled—at least on television. According to the New York Times, L Brands (the company that owns Victoria’s Secret) announced in an internal memo on May 10, 2019, that the famous lingerie show featuring numerous supermodels will no longer be airing on television.

L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner said in the memo that the company had been “taking a fresh look at every aspect of our business” in the past few months, and noted that Victoria’s Secret  “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.” He said the company would develop “a new kind of event” for Victoria’s Secret but did not elaborate on any further details.

It’s the latest blow to Victoria’s Secret, which has been experiencing declining sales and store closures.

TV ratings for the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show have also been on a rapid decline. The show, which debuted in 1995, wasn’t televised until 2001, when it got 12.4 million U.S. viewers on ABC. It remains the highest-rated Victoria’s Secret show for a single TV network, according to Nielsen. CBS televised the show in 2002, 2003 and from 2005 to 2017. During those years, the ratings ranged from 10.5 million U.S. viewers (in 2002) to 5 million U.S. viewers (in 2017). ABC picked up the show in 2018, when it had 3.3 million U.S viewers.

It’s likely that the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show will continue and will have an online platform where people can watch the show.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘Other Music’

May 5, 2019

by Carla Hay

“Other Music” (Photo by Robert M. Nielsen)

“Other Music”

Directed by Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 26, 2019.

Brick-and-mortar retail stores that sell music—just like video stores and places to develop film—are a dying breed that the Internet and other digital technology have been killing off since the mid-2000s. From 1995 to 2016, Other Music was an independent music store located in New York City’s East Village. The store had a reputation for being a place that championed obscure and non-mainstream music, but Other Music also carried releases from popular artists, with an emphasis on releases that might not be that easy to find. The documentary “Other Music” is a respectful, nostalgic history of the store, including a behind-the-scenes look at the final days before Other Music closed for good on June 25, 2016.

Other Music’s financial woes weren’t just caused by the Internet. Like many other independent retailers in high-priced urban cities, Other Music (which stayed in the same location throughout its 21-year run) couldn’t keep up with the rising rents in the area. But the store’s history is truly a reflection of what was going on in the music business at the time. Other Music was co-founded by Chris Vanderloo, Josh Madell and Jeff Gibson, at a time (the mid-‘90s) when alternative/indie rock was at the height of its commercial appeal. Vanderloo and Madell were former employees of Kim’s Underground Video, an independently run video store in New York City.

In the documentary, Vanderloo is described as the most customer-oriented; he was the Other Music owner who was most likely to be mingling with store customers. Madell was the managerial taskmaster, who was the most involved in employee hiring and training, as well as community outreach and setting up in-store performances. Gibson was the one who was the most enthusiastic about discovering new music—the more obscure, the better. In 2001, Gibson left Other Music and moved to Belgium, where his wife is from, and he declined to participate in the documentary.

The documentary mentions that, at first, many people thought it was crazy for Other Music to open directly across the street from the East Village location of Tower Records, the music-store behemoth that was considered one of the most powerful music retailers in the U.S. for decades. But it turns out that both stores had overlapping customers, and Tower Records’ foot traffic helped Other Music, which was a place to find releases that Tower Records might not have. Ironically, Other Music would outlast Tower Records (which closed all its U.S. operations in 2006), as well as other corporate music retailers that shut down in the U.S., such as Virgin Megastore and HMV. TransWorld-owned music retailers Musicland, Sam Goody, The Wherehouse and Camelot Music also went out of business years before Other Music did.

Other Music was the kind of store that strived to keep its anti-corporate image intact. The store’s labels and signs were hand-written. Most of the inventory was from independent record companies. The store prided itself on having employees who were extremely knowledgeable about non-mainstream music and weren’t shy about making recommendations to customers. But all of that led to Other Music having a “hipster snob” reputation that was a turnoff and intimidated some people, which the documentary rightfully acknowledges. A few of the employees interviewed also admit that they would be impatient and give attitude to customers if they thought the customers didn’t know much about music.

The film predictably includes a number of celebrities who mostly praise Other Music. Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore opens the movie with this glowing statement about Other Music: “Per square meter, it probably had more interest value than any other shop I’d ever been in, in the world.” Oscar-winning actor Benicio del Toro says that shopping at Other Music was “almost like a religious experience.” Vampire Weekend lead singer Ezra Koenig, former Le Tigre member JD Sampson, and Animal Collective singer Avey Tare are among the other artists who share fond memories of Other Music.

A few celebrities, such as Jason Schwartzman and Regina Spektor, admit that although they were fans of Other Music, they often felt like their musical tastes were being judged by the staff. Spektor explains that she always had a feeling of “first-day-of-school nervousness” when she shopped at Other Music, because she didn’t want to feel embarrassed. The National lead singer Matt Berninger said that if people felt uncomfortable shopping at Other Music because of the “snob” factor, it was because Other Music “set the bar high” when it came to musical taste. “They should celebrate stuff that’s better-than-average.”

One of the best things about the Other Music documentary is that is gives a spotlight to some of the store’s unsung heroes. Even though Other Music carried a wide variety of music, it still had an image of being dominated by indie rock. It might come as a surprise to many people who see this film that Other Music’s staff was a lot more diverse than the stereotypical white male music nerd, even though the store’s owners/bosses and many of the employees fit that stereotype. There were plenty of female staffers there too (although they don’t get as much screen time in the movie as the male staffers) and some people of color (usually male) who worked at Other Music. Most of the employees describe themselves as music fanatics and misfits who wouldn’t do well if they had to work at a regular 9-to-5 office job. It’s mentioned in the documentary that it was hard to get a job at Other Music because the standards for music knowledge were high and the employee turnover was relatively low. Co-owner Madell said that if employees got fired, it was often because of chronic tardiness.

Many people in the documentary mention Duane Harriott (a black man) as Other Music’s best employee. Harriott, who worked at Other Music from 1997 to 2008, is interviewed in the film, and he says of Other Music: “It wasn’t just a record store. It was a community center.” He also says he was largely responsible for building Other Music’s hip-hop inventory “from scratch.” Harriott is praised by many people in the documentary for his encyclopedic music knowledge and his sales skills—he had a gift of gab with customers, and he loved to tell trivia factoids and stories about artists, which often resulted in people buying music that they originally didn’t intend to buy.

Many of the employees of Other Music were also musicians, and they were encouraged to promote their own music in the store. One former employee, an African American identified in the movie only as Beans, was notorious for relentlessly suggesting that customers buy his music. Beans, who’s interviewed in the movie, freely admits that he was one of those Other Music employees who would get impatient and give attitude to customers if he thought they seemed clueless. Even though he admits this flaw, he’s also clearly one of Other Music’s most loyal employees: He’s seen in the documentary being one of the last employees to stay behind to help clear out the store after it permanently closed.

The documentary also interviews Vanderloo’s wife Lydia and Madell’s wife Dawn, who are perhaps the biggest unsung heroes of Other Music. The wives reveal that because they had more stable incomes than their husbands, the wives kept the business afloat for years when Other Music was losing money. In other words, if Vanderloo and Madell hadn’t been married to people who could give them money to keep the business going, the store would have closed years before 2016. The wives say that they and their husbands kept the business going because they felt obligated to Other Music’s customers and employees. But when they were losing so much money that the business no longer became sustainable, it was time to shut it down for good.

From the beginning, Other Music had issues with being cash-strapped. As Josh Madell says in documentary, the store didn’t pay most of its employees in its early years (the staff knowingly signed up as volunteers), and not even Lydia and Dawn were exempt from working for free. The wives talk about how their pre-marriage dates with their future husbands involved meeting at the store and being unpaid employees. A “dinner date” would be often be ordering pizza while they worked for free at the store.

The documentary also mentions how Other Music was affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which caused most businesses located in downtown Manhattan to be temporarily closed or severely limited in the weeks and sometimes months after the tragedy. William Basinski’s “DLP1.1” composition (one of his “disintegration loop” instrumental recordings) became Other Music’s unofficial anthem in dealing with aftermath of 9/11, according to the documentary. Other Music co-owner Madell says that the store had its biggest sales in the year 2000, and things never really recovered after 2001.

When Napster and other controversial file-sharing services began to eat away at the music industry’s profits, Other Music responded by launching its own digital music store without digital-rights management, but that wasn’t until 2007, when music retail was already in a major downward spiral, and iTunes was already dominating the online music market. Things also got worse for Other Music when corporate stores such as Best Buy had lower prices for CDs than what Other Music’s wholesalers/distributors would charge. Other Music had its own e-newsletter, and when that also shut down, the owners heard that Lou Reed was despondent over it. Other Music also launched its own record label in 2012.

Financial woes aside, Other Music’s biggest legacy is that it was a home for independent artists, many of whom weren’t mainstream enough for commercial radio or corporate chain stores. The documentary includes footage of in-store performances of artists such as Ghost, St. Vincent and Conor Oberst. Former employee Harriott says his most memorable Other Music performance was by the mysterious and elusive singer/songwriter Gary Wilson, who arrived at the store with a blanket over his face. Before his performance, Wilson poured talcum powder over himself and then performed wearing 3-D glasses.

The documentary also notes that in the aftermath of 9/11, the music community in New York City became more vibrant. It was during this period of time that the New York City music scene had LCD Soundsystem, The Strokes, Interpol, The National, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Other Music helped all of these acts before they broke through to larger audiences.

Although a few people (including Josh Madell) had tears in their eyes and understandably got emotional in the final days and hours before Other Music’s last day in business, the general feeling was one of positivity over all the great experiences they had because of Other Music. There’s plenty of nostalgia and wistfulness, because the closing of Other Music represents a bygone era when most people got their music by physically going to a store and combing through racks of vinyl records, cassettes or CDs. Many of the customers interviewed in the documentary talk about how they prefer the tangible feeling of holding albums in their hands, so that they can better appreciate the artwork or lyrics that came with the packaging.

People who’ve spent countless hours of their lives at a music store know that it’s become an increasingly rare experience to physically be at a store devoted to music where you can find those hidden gems or sought-out items to add to a collection. Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly common for small, independent businesses such as Other Music to not be able to survive online competitors, technology’s effects or rising rent.

The documentary ends with the “Other Music Forever” farewell concert that took place at the Bowery Ballroom on June 28, 2016. The event, hosted by Janeane Garofalo, included performances by Yoko Ono, Sharon Van Etten, Bill Callahan, Yo La Tengo, OM, Julianna Barwick and Frankie Cosmos. People who didn’t attend the concert can see a few snippets in the movie, as well as how Other Music co-owner Madell had to practically beg a modest Vanderloo to come up on stage.

“Other Music” co-directors Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller do a fine job of telling Other Music’s story in a cohesive and entirely conventional manner. There’s some use of animation, which can be hit-or-miss in a documentary, but it works well-enough in this movie because the animation is used sparingly. And although there are some celebrities and other world travelers who no doubt got to experience Other Music firsthand, the movie might not be compelling enough to watch for the average person who’s never heard of Other Music or has never even been to New York City.

And here’s why the movie might have a challenge in finding an audience that’s larger than those who care about a music store in New York City: Unfortunately, there are any number of beloved, independently owned music stores around the world that have closed over the years. Each store had its own unique impact on its community. Other Music just happened to be in America’s largest-populated city, so it had a bigger profile than most indie record stores. The people who have the most emotional attachment to Other Music are those who had a great experience there and/or those whose careers were affected by Other Music—and that’s a very niche audience indeed.

That’s not to say that the “Other Music” documentary isn’t worth watching, and you don’t have to be a former customer or employee to enjoy the movie. But people who never went to Other Music might have a harder time relating to and engaging in the documentary’s sentimental nostalgia over the store. The “Other Music” documentary would make a great double feature with “All Things Must Pass,” director Colin Hanks’ excellent 2015 documentary about the rise and fall of Tower Records, because, at the very least, the “Other Music” documentary shows how a scrappy underdog outlasted a corporate giant.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘What Will Become of Us’

May 5, 2019

by Carla Hay

Frank Lowy in "What Will Become of Us"
Frank Lowy in “What Will Become of Us” (Photo by Leon Moralić)

“What Will Become of Us”

Directed by Steven Cantor

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on May 2, 2019.

In the documentary “What Will Become of Us,” Frank Lowy, the billionaire founder of the Westfield corporation of shopping malls, has a dilemma: Should he sell his beloved business and go into retirement, or should he keep his business, which he plans to leave to his three sons? At first glance, this might seem like a movie about “rich people’s problems.” However, Lowy (who was born in 1930) has a much more emotionally riveting and fascinating story to tell in this film, which clocks in at a brisk 75 minutes.

Lowy, who was born in the country then known as Czechoslovakia, is not a spoiled heir who was handed his wealth by a privileged parent. He literally has a “rags to riches” story as a Jewish refugee of Nazis who invaded his country and tore his family apart. In “What Will Become of Us,” Lowy, accompanied by his biographer David Kushner, goes back to many of the sites from his childhood that still haunt him.

Growing up, Lowy was bullied and beaten up for being Jewish. His childhood experiences are still painful for him to remember, because he calls the country of his birth “a horrible place” with “sad memories.” From 1943 to 1945, Lowy and his family (his parents, his sister and his brother) lived in Budapest, Hungary. Lowy had a very close relationship with his father, who disappeared when Lowy was 14, during the Nazi occupation of Hungary. Lowy says he still grieves for his father, and he is at his most tearful in the documentary when he talks about his father. Later on in the movie, Lowy finds out what finally happened to his long-lost father.

After fleeing Nazi-occupied Hungary, Lowy and his family went their separate ways. He lived in Palestine and Israel from 1946 to 1952. His sister married a lawyer in Australia, where his mother and brother eventually moved. Lowy later joined them in Australia in 1952, when he began his life as a business mogul in Sydney.

Lowy had humble beginnings in Australia, where he started off as a delivery boy. He saved up enough money to eventually buy a deli and a coffee shop, which he sold and used the money to buy real estate. His real-estate dealings evolved into the shopping-mall business that he is known for today. (In 1960, Lowy co-founded Westfield with John Saunders, who sold his interest in the company to Lowy years later.)

“What Will Become of Us” also delves into Lowy’s personal life. Married to his wife Shirley since 1964, Lowy describes their relationship as “love at first sight” for him when he met her at a Hanukkah party. He was 31, and she was 19 when they met, and they married 18 months later. It sounds like an ideal love story, but Shirley now has Alzheimer’s disease. As Frank describes it, “Physically, she’s there, but mentally she’s not.” She is interviewed in the movie, which shows some instances of her memory loss.

Frank also says that he’s been a hardcore workaholic for decades, so that might be why the documentary doesn’t really give much information about the relationships that he’s had with his three sons: Peter and Steven (the co-CEOs of Westfield) and David, a principal of the Lowy Family Group. All three sons are interviewed in the movie, but they don’t reveal anything about the family dynamics in running the business or how they deal with each other on a personal level. Although Frank is shown being a devoted husband tending to Shirley, one has to wonder how small of a fraction of time that is for him, compared to all the time he admits to spending on his business.

At the beginning of the movie, Frank says it’s “painful” for him to open up negotiations to sell Westfield. If you follow corporate business news, then you know what his decision was on whether or not to sell the company. “What Will Become of Us” isn’t really a window into how Westfield is run, but it’s a fairly effective attempt to make billionaire Frank Lowy look more human and emotionally vulnerable than the ruthless image that corporate moguls like him tend to have.