The Victorias Secret Fashion Show has made a comeback, but things have changed significantly from what you remember.
For over two decades, this iconic event showcased renowned supermodels donning extravagant lingerie and angel wings while walking the runway to the tunes of famous artists like Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, and Kanye West. However, it has now been substituted with a full-length documentary titled "The Tour 23," which made its debut on Prime Video this Tuesday.
A new documentary exposes unsettling connections between Victorias Secret and Jeffrey Epstein, following a five-year break in the fashion show. The break appears to be a result of declining viewership and numerous controversies, ranging from a former executive's remarks about transgender models to criticisms of the brand's limited understanding of attractiveness. The explosive documentary delves into the company's past ties with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
So what awaits you in "The Tour"? This comeback film isn't just a single runway show like Rihanna's Savage X Fenty, but instead highlights four distinct collections from talented independent designer-artists hailing from Lagos, Bogotá, London, and Tokyo. Each impressive presentation occurs in a spacious Barcelona villa, with host Gigi Hadid graciously guiding viewers through each segment. Not only do renowned VS all-stars like Naomi Campbell and Adriana Lima showcase stunning ensembles, but they are joined by a diverse cast of models including Adut Akech, Winnie Harlow, Quannah Chasinghorse, Paloma Elsesser, Hailey Bieber, and Lila Moss, to name just a few.
Naomi Campbell in a gold halter-neck by Lagos-based artist Bubu Ogisi.
Carlijn Jacobs/Courtesy Victorias Secret
Iris Law in a dress cast from the body of Tokyo-based designer Jen-Fang Shueh, whose collection speaks to aging and womanhood.
The showcases are preceded by short films that introduce the "VS20," a collective of 20 women creatives comprising designers and filmmakers. Among them are Piscis Canizales, a Colombian dancer and activist who gained fame for voguing in front of heavily armed police during a protest in 2021, and KOM_I, a Japanese singer formerly associated with the popular electronic J-Pop band, Wednesday Campanella.
"The Tour" aims to embody the epitome of the Victorias Secret brand transformation, as stated by Raúl Martinez, the companys head creative director. It presents a broader and more global perspective on femininity, different from the lingerie label's usual style. One designer, Lagos-based Bubu Ogisi, draws inspiration from Yoruba and Igbo mythologies, infusing divine elements into her creations. Meanwhile, Jen-Fang Shueh of Tokyo's Jenny Fax explores the physical realities of entering middle age. (While the collections will not be available for purchase through Victorias Secret, certain products inspired by "The Tour" will be accessible online.)
In addition to its new film, Victorias Secret is promoting fresh funding initiatives for women artists and entrepreneurs. The brand is also addressing criticism about its fashion show, which has been accused of cultural insensitivity, such as featuring Karlie Kloss wearing a Native American headdress in 2012, and promoting unrealistic body ideals.
One notable designer, Michaela Stark, embraces and accentuates the natural curves of bellies and love handles in her lingerie collections, rather than concealing them. In "The Tour," Stark reveals that she decided to be part of the film to challenge the body dysmorphia she experienced while watching previous Victorias Secret shows.
"In high school, it was a significant event. However, there was also a prevailing culture of avoiding meals after witnessing it," she mentioned in the documentary, moments before showcasing plus-size models adorned in iconic Victoria's Secret runway outfits.
London-based designer Supriya Lele was inspired by ancient Indian sculpture and a dash of punk fashion.
Courtesy Victorias Secret
But, despite the talented artists Victorias Secret has assembled, "The Tour" feels disjointed. Instead of being a grand event like the original fashion show, it consists of short films that only provide fleeting moments, subdued runways, and storytelling that fails to delve deeper. The production features prominent figures such as Doja Cat and Afro-Colombian singer Goyo, along with various snippets of interviews, music videos, dance-activism footage, behind-the-scenes glimpses of art-making and design, and poetic audio from writers, as well as unconventional performance art.
Is Victoria's Secret's image overhaul sufficient to regain relevance? The film fails to explain the reason behind the inclusion of this specific group of artists in the VS20beyond "The Tour" and their connection to the bedazzled corsets and leather two-piece ensembles from the Victorias Secret Collection, which are oddly presented as an intermission between other segments.
"The Tour" is undoubtedly intended to reinvent and redefine the identity of VS, but what exactly is that? As the company bid farewell to its "Angels" and introduced its new ambassadors known as the "VS Collective," featuring renowned figures like Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Megan Rapinoe, and brought back iconic faces like Campbell and Lima for impressive campaigns, the progress of its lingerie line has arguably been unremarkable and forgotten.
The "new" VS may be exploring more empowering and inclusive concepts of femininity and allure, but whether the brand has truly discovered itself through introspective endeavors like "The Tour" remains uncertain.