We have the welcome news that Victoria’s Secret Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek has retired in the wake of growing fallout around Jeffrey Epstein’s connections to L Brands chief and major stockholder Les Wexner. The plot has thickened so deep that even I — who worked in the business for a decade and knew both men well — am waiting for the next shoe to drop.
Razek was riding high — not in terms of VS revenues and profits, which were clobbered last year — but in an interview with Vogue in advance of the now cancelled, annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Among the tough questions fielded to Razek was one about using ‘transsexual’ models in the fashion show.
Razek claimed that “transsexual” models should not be cast “because the show is fantasy.” We know he meant “male fantasy” which is among the many reasons for the decline of VS. Former Victoria’s Secret Angel Karlie Kloss and current Angel Lily Aldridge clapped back online, stating that trans and gender non-conforming lives are not up for debate.
In a bit of poetic justice, Razek is out and transgender beauty Valentina Sampaio, a 22-year-old model hailing from Brazil, has shot a new campaign for Victoria’s Secret Pink.
I find Sampaio’s sultry, intoxicating images to be more conducive for the VS mothership, but whatever role she plays, we say kudos.
Hiring Sampaio won’t begin to solve Victoria’s Secret’s problems, but at least we know that new VS CEO John Mehas is putting his foot down. Mehas most recently was president of Tory Burch and from all we know, his thinking is much more advanced in terms of today’s women and also the attitudes of young shoppers than either Razek’s or Wexner’s.