Victoria’s Secret Pink Carpet: The Brand Scrambles for Identity in First ‘Show’ Since 2018

The VS Fashion Show returned Wednesday, sort of, with Naomi Campbell reciting poetry and former Angels wearing black blazers.

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Photo: (Getty Images)

It’s been four years since the images of skinny models in bright colors wearing giant wings—and the diet and exercise routines of said skinny models—took over the newsfeeds of teen girls and women around the world. But on Wednesday night, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show returned...without the ornate wings, the runway, or seemingly any idea of what kind of brand it’s actually trying to be.

In what appeared to be a kick-off to New York Fashion Week, Victoria’s Secret held a head-scratching event meant to show off its new and improved and not-sexist brand. So, instead of strutting 95% naked down the runway, Naomi Campbell, an original Victoria’s Secret Angel, recited a poem by Nigerian writer and artist Eloghosa Osunde. Which yeah, is cool. And instead of watching a traditional fashion show, attendees watched a 12-minute trailer for an hour-and-a-half-long film, The Victoria’s Secret World Tour, that Victoria’s Secret will release on Amazon Prime on September 26. Apparently, the film, which describes itself as “part documentary” and “part fantasy,” features “a new generation of creatives” talking about fashion and identity—specifically, 20 women from Lagos, London, Bogotá, and Tokyo who are all some kind of artist, be it designer, musician, writer, painter, or “multifaceted creative.” Again, cool, but also, what?

The film does seem to feature models, too, including former Angels Candice Swanepoel and Adriana Lima, and Doja Cat performs in it, but it’s unclear what role lingerie plays. Gigi Hadid, who also stars in the film, introduced the trailer to the New York attendees and said it’s her “favorite” VS show. Is it?!?!

The infamous wings themselves seem to be absent from this “tour,” except when they appeared as part of an ad campaign for the Wednesday event, which saw a handful of models and influencers posing around New York City in wings. (Some wings were on display at the trailer’s premiere, too.) Which, why? The runway shows were exciting spectacles that, models aside, showcased some very cool and unique pieces of art. The backlash against the brand, culminating in a four-year runway hiatus, was warranted, but I think it’s kind of bizarre that Victoria’s Secret rebranded the show into...whatever this is...instead of just like, choosing diverse and inclusive models to walk the runway in lingerie designed by women, for women, that is irrespective of the male gaze. But what do I know!? Maybe this will end up being the coolest thing any brand has done this millennium.

The pink carpet for the trailer’s premiere, similarly, seemed to suffer from this chaotic brand relaunch. A wild mix of former Victoria’s Secret Angels, a bunch of TikTok influencers, a few random celebs (Jemima Kirke?), and some nepo babies and famous friends of famous celebs posed on it. And all of them wore outfits that seemed to say, “I have no idea what I’m dressing for.” See for yourself.

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