Victoria’s Secret History – Globe of Books and Films


‘Angels and Demons’ Documentary Reveals the Once-Iconic Lingerie Brand’s Dark Undergarments

On July 14, Hulu premiered Victoria’s Secret: Angels & Demons, a three-part documentary series about the famous lingerie brand and its legendary CEO, Les Wexner. The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was once a massive prime-time TV event. Everyone, even children, had at least heard of the brand, even if they hadn’t really been won over. Its influence in using sex as a selling point has also seeped through, a cultural development spearheaded by Victoria’s Secret.

However, this is a little ahead of the chronological order of the documentary. Before Victoria’s Secret was famous, it was just an ’80s mail-order catalog that targeted men too embarrassed to buy lingerie from a real store. Victoria’s Secret changed a lot when Les Wexner took over and spoke more directly to women. Wexner believed, reasonably enough, that since women have to wear underwear all the time, they would want to wear comfortable underwear. “Victoria” herself became this refined and ambitious character, a married Englishwoman in her thirties who exuded elegance and grace.

Path to success

The transitions in Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons are so subtle that it’s a bit of a surprise when the 90s roll around. Victoria’s Secret had moved away from the mail-order catalog business model and moved closer to becoming a dominant mainstay in American malls. To better capture the attention of mall shoppers, Wexner and his management team, which included quite a few women, came up with newer and better novelties.

The escalations continued to the point that just as the internet started to be a thing, Victoria’s Secret openly appealed to American men via its famous Super Bowl ad which (very briefly) planted its own website in the process. The Victoria’s Secret fashion show featured the angels, named after the wings on their costumes. It had nothing to do with the quality of the product. But the move greatly enhanced the show’s prestige in fashion circles. Working as a Victoria’s Secret model has gone from a high-paying terminal career choice to a great way for a young model to raise her profile.

The dark side

What are Demons? Let’s start with the big one – Jeffrey Epstein. When Wexner found success in New York, he was just a Jew from Ohio who didn’t know anyone. Epstein, on the other hand, was a Jew who knew all the right people. The most charitable explanation possible for why Wexner was willing to tolerate Epstein’s presence for so long, essentially acting as his personal lawyer, is that Wexner was thinking back to when he didn’t know anyone and Epstein really helped him. So Wexner denied the horrible things Epstein had done, including sneaking aspiring models into hotel rooms under the guise of a Victoria’s Secret job interview and then assaulting them.

That’s the charitable explanation, notice. Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons tries to be objective, but there’s really no way to reconcile the fact that Wexner was such a brilliant businessman with the idea that he couldn’t have known what Epstein was doing. . That ignores the spooky stuff Wexner has done on his own, including creating his own weird and aspirational whimsical gated community of WASPs in Columbus, Ohio, with Epstein living in a guesthouse behind Wexner’s own door. .

sell sex

Oddly enough, as Wexner’s personal life takes a rough turn, we also get the feeling he’s less involved with Victoria’s Secret. As Victoria’s Secret earned its reputation as a big brand through innovative fast fashion, as the 20th century progressed and the internet transformed into the entity we know best today, Victoria’s Secret did not adapt. Like, at all. Flash forward to 2018, and Ed Razek, the marketing director in charge of Victoria’s Secret and its adjacent brands, gives a particularly terrible interview to Vogue, essentially saying that the company is all about nostalgia for the image of the brand’s existing pop culture. Models should continue to be lean, cisgender, and painted to perfection.

It’s no surprise that Razek himself is also implicated in the sexual plague. But it’s hard to argue that Victoria’s Secret was truly a morally defensible company before Epstein, simply because it had more women in senior leadership positions. Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons sidesteps the issue of corporate moral culpability in publicly promoting sexualized images by acting as if it was only in the age of Instagram that anyone complained about the toxicity of these images, fostering body dysphoria in an entire generation. .

A sobering finale

This is all the more true since Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons recognizes at the end that social media is not necessarily exempt from promoting such pernicious influences. Either way, looking at the breadth of material assembled in the documentary, there’s no denying that our culture is almost certainly much better off now with brand prominence diminishing. Yet, at a belated moment that’s more than a little unsettling, Wexner somehow seems to have a lot more power and influence now than he did a few decades ago.

Populists on the left and on the right can find something to hate. Remember that both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump were great Epstein boosters. Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons makes a point of mentioning both whenever one is mentioned to emphasize the widespread bipartisan acceptance of every gross aspect of the Victoria’s Secret empire.

Finally, Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons isn’t on anyone’s side. And Wexner looks even worse because he doesn’t appear on screen to defend himself, forcing the documentary to rely on canned and flimsy excuses from his lawyers.


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