Bella Hadid Is Back at Victoria’s Secret
The model, who previously cut ties with Victoria's Secret, has joined the company's rebrand as a member of the VS Collective
You may recall that earlier this year Victoria’s Secret, The Lingerie Brand That Refuses to Die, launched an aggressive rebrand campaign in an eleventh-hour attempt to revive the faltering company by finally yielding to consumer demand for more inclusive marketing. In practice, this has mostly involved ditching the brand’s once-revered Victoria’s Secret Angels in favor of the more diverse, less overtly sexualized VS Collective, starting a podcast for some reason, and essentially trying to do what its competitors did years ago: become the anti-Victoria’s Secret.
While many, including myself, have been eager to write off the company’s belated rebrand attempt as too little too late, it seems to be working — at least on Bella Hadid, anyway. The former Victoria’s Secret model, who walked in the brand’s now-defunct annual fashion show in 2016, 2017 and 2018, has reportedly re-joined forces with the brand as a member of the VS Collective, joining the likes of Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Megan Rapinoe and Valentina Sampaio, among other members of the brand’s group of new ambassadors.
Hadid’s reconciliation with Victoria’s Secret is particularly significant, as the model has previously spoken out publicly against the company on multiple occasions. Hadid cut ties with a pre-rebrand Victoria’s Secret in 2020, joining fellow models in accusing then-exec Ed Razek of sexual harassment. According to a New York Times exposé, Razek was accused of making unwanted sexual advances and comments on models’ bodies, including telling Hadid she had “perfect titties.” Razek, who denied the allegations, has since stepped down from the company.
Even before the allegations against Razek broke in 2020, however, Hadid was already throwing shade at Victoria’s Secret. After walking in Rihanna’s inaugural Savage X Fenty fashion show in 2018 — which was widely revered for being the exact opposite of the annual Victoria’s Secret show and later credited for its demise — Hadid spoke candidly about how the experience compared to her previous trips down the catwalk in lingerie.
“That was the first time on a runway that I felt really sexy,” she said during a 2019 Vogue Fashion Festival appearance, per WWD. “When I first did Fenty, I was doing other lingerie shows and I never felt powerful on a runway, like, in my underwear.” While the star didn’t name names, it’s pretty obvious what “other lingerie show” she was talking about.
These days, however, Hadid has changed her tune, and she says she believes Victoria’s Secret has changed too. “What magnetized me to coming back was them coming to me and really proving to me that, behind the scenes, Victoria’s Secret has changed so drastically,” the model told Marie Claire of her “very complicated” decision to return to the brand.
Hadid goes on to express “feel[ing] empowered again” and her faith in the brand’s commitment to “representation of all different types of beauty.” While it’s easy — and fashionable, even — to write off comments like Hadid’s as requisite lip service to Victoria’s Secret’s half-baked attempt at a relevant rebrand from a spokesmodel who is literally being paid to make the brand seem like whatever it wants people to think it is, one can only hope that if Victoria’s Secret insists on continuing to exist, things really have changed.
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