Secrets Of Fashion Culture

For more than 20 years, the show had been an annual event, an extravaganza of babes in thongland, like “Barbie” through the lens of Paul Verhoeven. Broadcast in more than 100 countries to millions of viewers, it got evermore absurdist until the #MeToo movement and social change finally brought the curtain down along with the profits, leaving the company wrestling with just how out of step with women’s sense of self it had become.

The company retired the signature angels in their push-up bras and panties toting around ginormous 30-pound wings and replaced them with the VS Collective: a group of 10 women of notable accomplishments and notably diverse body types. It announced that it wanted to be “the world’s leading advocate for women.” And then, on Wednesday, Victoria’s Secret finally brought back the show.

There was a powder pink carpet with a marquee outside the Manhattan Center on 34th Street in Manhattan, with Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Lourdes Leon, Alix Earle and assorted models in skimpy outfits posing for paparazzi. There were gawkers outside wielding smartphones, and champagne inside, where all was bathed in a soft pink light. There was Naomi Campbell in a gold chain-mail minidress and Gigi Hadid in sunshine jersey, elevated above the crowd on V.I.P. balconies. There was Doechii, serenading the room and twerking in a lilac corset and matching thigh-high boots. There was even a glittering pair of wings. So far, so familiar.


But there was no runway. Ms. Campbell, it turned out, was there to recite a poem by the Nigerian writer and artist Eloghosa Osunde. Doechii shared the stage with Goyo, a singer from Bogotá, Colombia, who entered for her set wearing a crop top and skirt made from a cobweb of curving, glittering crochet by the Bogotá designer Melissa Valdés. The wings were positioned in a special circular room, outside of which snaked a line of guests waiting to take selfies, as if to document a relic from another age.

And Ms. Hadid was holding a microphone to introduce the evening’s main event: a 12-minute trailer for a one-and-a-half-hour film that is intended to be the final piece of the VS reinvention pie.

“The Victoria’s Secret World Tour,” which will stream on Amazon Prime on Sept. 26, is a putting-their-platform-where-their-mouth-is movie conceived to showcase the work of “a new generation of creatives” (all female, of course) from four major cities — Lagos, Nigeria; London; Bogotá; and Tokyo — the better to convince the world that this really is a new Victoria’s Secret.


“To finally say, ‘This is it, this is who we are,’” said Raul Martinez, the brand’s chief creative director. “We haven’t forgotten our past, but we’re also speaking to the present. To take our platform, understand the power of that, but show up with a different narrative.”