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Victoria’s Secret rocked by shock exit

There are huge changes ahead at Victoria’s Secret as the US lingerie giant works to repair its image.

Ed Razek, the longtime chief marketing officer of the brand’s parent company L Brands, has exited the company, perhaps signalling a change in direction for the brand.

Razek, 71, is considered largely responsible for the company’s overly sexualised ad campaigns, invented the “Victoria’s Secret Angel” concept, and last year, made headlines for a series of transphobic and body shaming comments.

Amid dwindling sales, Razek’s departure from Victoria’s Secret — a company where he has worked since the ’80s — came as there were unconfirmed reports that the annual VS runway has been cancelled for 2019.

Is the VS Fashion Show really over? Picture: Getty Images for Victoria's Secretmedia_cameraIs the VS Fashion Show really over? Picture: Getty Images for Victoria's Secret

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Razek was behind the Victroia’s Secret Fashion Show and had the ultimate say in which models were booked.

Harper’s Bazaar described Razek as a “controversial figure, who was largely responsible for the airbrushed, homogenised view of femininity associated with the lingerie label”.

The company has faced a string of criticism lately.

Supermodel Bella Hadid on the VS runway. Picture: Getty Imagesmedia_cameraSupermodel Bella Hadid on the VS runway. Picture: Getty ImagesShanina Shaik raised eyebrows over her comments about VS last week. Picture: Getty Images for Victoria's Secretmedia_cameraShanina Shaik raised eyebrows over her comments about VS last week. Picture: Getty Images for Victoria's Secret

In particular, Razek was slammed for a 2018 interview with Vogue, where he said trans models should not be cast in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and that “no one had any interest” in a runway featuring plus-size models.

“It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show?,” Razek told US Vogue.

“No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy.

“If you’re asking if we’ve considered putting a transgender model in the show or looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have.”

SHOCK REALITY OF VS SHOW PREP

Kendall Jenner has previously described walking for VS as a defining career moment. Picture: Getty Images for Victoria's Secretmedia_cameraKendall Jenner has previously described walking for VS as a defining career moment. Picture: Getty Images for Victoria's Secret

Razek later apologised for his comments, saying they were “insensitive” and that the company would “absolutely cast a transgender model”.

Days before Razek’s departure from the business, Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio, 22, became the first transgender model to be booked for a Victora’s Secret campaign.

Sampaio has shot a campaign for Victoria’s Secret Pink campaign, the brand’s offshoot label aimed at teens, to be released in mid-August.

But the future of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show — which began in 1995 — remains in doubt.

Victoria’s Secret Angel Candice Swanepoel with outgoing VS chief marketing officer, Ed Razek. Picture: Getty Imagesmedia_cameraVictoria’s Secret Angel Candice Swanepoel with outgoing VS chief marketing officer, Ed Razek. Picture: Getty Images

Victoria’s Secret had previously stated the runway extravaganza would no longer be televised, after ratings dropped to its lowest-ever audience of 3.3 million viewers in the US last year (down on the 5 million who watched in 2017).

Sales are also facing a continuous downturn as VS faces increased competition from labels including Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty, which is stocked in sizes XS-3XL and has a body positive message.

Last week, Australian model Shanina Shaik shocked the industry when she revealed the show had actually been cancelled for 2019.

“Unfortunately, the Victoria’s Secret show won’t be happening this year,” Shaik told The Daily Telegraph.

German model Lorena Rae. Picture: AFPmedia_cameraGerman model Lorena Rae. Picture: AFPLong-time VS Angel Adriana Lima left the brand in November last year. Picture: Getty Imagesmedia_cameraLong-time VS Angel Adriana Lima left the brand in November last year. Picture: Getty ImagesValentina Sampaio made history as the first trans model booked for a VS campaign. Picture: APmedia_cameraValentina Sampaio made history as the first trans model booked for a VS campaign. Picture: AP

Shaik, who has walked for the lingerie label’s star-studded catwalk five times since 2011, describing news as “upsetting”

“I’m sure in the future something will happen, which I’m pretty sure about,” she said.

“I’m sure they’re trying to work on branding and new ways to do the show because it’s the best show in the world.”

Victoria’s Secret has so far declined to comment. It currently operates one full-scale store in Australia, located at Melbourne’s Chadstone Shopping Centre.

Last year, the company’s CEO of lingerie, Jan Singer, resigned shortly after the show amid criticism over Victoria’s Secret’s hypersexualised offerings and singular ideas of feminine beauty.

Originally published as Victoria’s Secret rocked by shock exit

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