Victoria’s Secret is scrubbing the ‘Angels’ from more than half of its stores, starting with the midtown Manhattan flagship that houses a museum to the models.
The iconic ‘Angels’ have graced catwalks as the company’s ambassadors since their debut at the fourth Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 1998.
But they will soon no longer be featured in photos and videos around the Fifth Avenue shop, which has been closed since last March due to the pandemic.
A museum featuring images and memorabilia from previous Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows will no longer fill the store’s third floor.
Angels Devon Windsor (left) and Alessandra Ambrosio on the VS Fashion Show runway
Victoria’s Secret flagship Fifth Avenue store has been closed since last March due to Covid-19
The company is swapping out the ‘Angels’ for more ‘inviting’ images at half of its 1,400 stores. Above, a store in Prague’s international airport pictured in 2015
The change comes amid allegations of misogyny and sexual harassment at the 44-year-old lingerie company that have caused top-level personnel shake-ups.
Moves toward size inclusive models and mannequins also precipitated the scrubbing of the ‘Angel’ trademark.
‘The word angel is retired but that doesn’t mean the women we worked with as angels are retired,’ VS creative director Raul Martinez, who was nabbed from magazine publisher Conde Nast in December, told the NY Post.
‘We did have conversations with the former angels. It was an honest conversation.’
About half of the company’s 1,400 stores are swapping out the Angel look for an image that is ‘more inviting for women to enter,’ Martinez said.
The company closed 223 of its brick-and-mortar stores last year, though online sales have helped the retailer stay afloat.
‘We are moving from what men want to what women want; We are going from a look to a feeling, from excluding most women to including all women, from mostly unattainable to grounded in real life,’ CEO Martin Waters said in a recent earnings call.
A New York Times story published last year included explosive allegations against former L Brands chief marketing officer Ed Razek, who was accused of being inappropriate with models.
L Brands is the parent company of Victoria’s Secret.
‘This abuse was just laughed off and accepted as normal. It was almost like brainwashing,’ said former PR employee Casey Crowe Taylor.
Heidi Klum, 48, was an ‘Angel’ for 13 years. ‘About time, is all I can say,’ she said of the company’s plan to ditch the ‘Angel’ brand
‘And anyone who tried to do anything about it wasn’t just ignored. They were punished.’
Leslie Wexner, the CEO of L Brands who stepped down last year, has faced backlash for his association with financier Jeffrey Epstein, to whom he allowed vast power over his financial decision-making before his demise amid charges of sex trafficking.
At one point, Epstein is said to have flaunted his role as a Victoria’s Secret ‘recruiter’ to entice women to meetings and harass them.
Martinez said that at least three ‘Angels’ continue to work with the brand: Taylor Hill, 25, Grace Elisabeth, 24, and Helena Christensen, 52.
Heidi Klum, 48, spent 13 years modeling underwear and angel wings for Victoria’s Secret.
‘About time, is all I can say. About time,’ she said of her former employer’s rebranding during an interview on Australian television on July 11.
‘As a model, you go there, you are happy to have a job. When you are not the company, you do what you are told. But finally, looking at this now, I’m like, about time.’