How Rihanna Helped Kill the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

Savage x Fenty is ready to put Victoria's Secret out of its misery

Savage X Fenty show
Former Victoria's Secret model Bella Hadid called Rihanna's Savage X Fenty Show the first time she felt sexy.
Craig Barritt/Getty Images
By Kayla Kibbe / December 2, 2019 10:06 am

When Victoria’s Secret finally surrendered its struggling annual fashion show last month, those celebrating the fall of the outdated lingerie extravaganza were quick to credit pop star turned competing lingerie brand founder Rihanna for her role in the show’s demise.

Rihanna’s successful Savage x Fenty brand has quickly gained popularity since its launch in 2018, attracting praise for being, well, everything Victoria’s Secret isn’t. The brand’s core ethos of body, size and racial inclusivity stand in stark contrast to Victoria’s Secret’s long-criticized adherence to ultra-thin models upholding increasingly outdated western beauty ideals.

As CultureBanx CEO Kori Hale noted in a recent analysis of Rihanna’s impact on the dying brand for Forbes, while former Victoria’s Secret exec Ed Razek was telling Vogue the public had no interest in seeing plus-size models, Rihanna was telling the same publication that “women should be wearing lingerie for their damn selves,” adding, “I can only hope to encourage confidence and strength by showing lingerie in another light.”

The massive success of Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty fashion show in September didn’t do Victoria’s Secret any favors either. The show celebrating race and size diversity launched on Amazon Prime where it was available to to 100 million Prime subscribers in more than 200 countries, one-upping Victoria’s Secret’s outdated aesthetics as well as the fashion show’s old school network broadcast format.

“You know when you bite into really fresh fruit or fish, and you’re like ‘Oh, this is what it’s supposed to taste like?’ That’s how I felt watching Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty lingerie show,” wrote The Cut’s Emilia Petrarca of the new show that had already “murdered” Victoria’s Secret’s well before the company officially announced the fashion show’s cancellation.

Even some of Victoria’s Secret’s most famous former models agree. Supermodel Bella Hadid, who walked the Victoria’s Secret runway three times, recently told reporters at the Vogue Fashion Festival in Paris that she had “never felt powerful” walking in the Victoria’s Secret show, adding that her appearance in Rihanna’s September show was the “first time she’d felt sexy” modeling lingerie.

However, while The Cut has called Savage x Fenty the final nail in the Victoria’s Secret coffin, Hale noted that the brand isn’t dead quite yet. Victoria’s Secret still commands a market share of 24 percent. That’s down from 32 percent in 2013, though. So while Victoria’s Secret may not be dead and buried, it’s certainly heading that way, and Savage x Fenty seems more than willing to put it out of its misery.


Related: Victoria’s Secret Can Still Clean Up Their Image, But Should They Even Bother?


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