Last Wednesday, women all over the world simultaneously invaded social media to see the first photos from the major event held in the Grand Palais, Paris: the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, otherwise known as the “emotional roller coaster of the year”. You love the angels, but you secretly hate them, and deep down you wish you were them.
The show saw 54 models walk the runway in lingerie and costumes fit for segments such as ‘Dark Angel’, ‘Secret Angel’ and ‘Bright Night Angels’. The show entertained big names in the fashion industry as well the press present at the event.
Though the show was deemed a success, it wasn’t long before that mood was soured.
On an article titled “Why Can’t Victoria’s Secret Stop Designing Racist Lingerie?”, Helin Jung, executive lifestyle editor at Cosmopolitan, accused the brand of cultural appropriation based on the Mexican and Asian influences that inspired the collection.
According to Jung, the most significant emblems were those resonating Chinese culture, such as the dragon that Elsa Hosk wore wrapped around her body, and the tail made of flames that was worn by Kendall Jenner. The editor stated that “the company held a condescending attitude towards its Asian customers”, rejecting VS for its outspoken attempt at appreciating and celebrating the world’s cultures.
The Nepalese jewelry designer Arpana Rayamajhi, who created the pieces for one of the segments, described the creative process, saying: “the idea is that you’re blending little bits of this and that from all cultures around the world”, and further adding that the jewelry included “silk threads turned into tassels, coins from Nepal, and beads — a huge part of my culture”.
However, Jung had a different opinion, calling the company a “sexist, patriarchal, mostly white corporation”, and that “the brand and its creative leads shamelessly cherry-picked imagery, breaking apart aesthetic references from wherever they wanted and stitching them back together again. They’re telling us its worldliness. It’s not, it’s a hack job”.
The article got removed a couple of days after its publication, but it didn’t go unnoticed. The author received a lot of backlash on social media, with users ripping the fashion magazine for publishing the piece, and defending Victoria’s Secret’s choices.
Meanwhile, the lingerie company has not yet commented on the matter.
The show will air on December 5 in the United States and will be released in 190 countries for everybody to enjoy.