July 31, 2019
by Daphne Sorenson
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has been losing goodwill due to widespread complaints over bad customer service, decreasing quality of products, and an outdated modeling image that pushes the idea that only very thin women can be “sexy.”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.