Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons

victoria secret

The resurgence of ’90s fashion has inspired a series of docuseries about everything from Von Dutch to Abercrombie & Fitch, but the mother of them all gets the sexy treatment with Hulu’s three-part Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons. The show is a look at the company through the lens of sex, power, money and, of course, fashion. It’s also a bit of a wake-up call about the company that’s trying to change its image.

The Victoria’s Secret of today is a far cry from the lingerie store that began in 1977 with a small catalog and five stores in Columbus, Ohio. When retail billionaire Leslie Wexner purchased the company in 1982, he turned it into a global phenomenon that helped shape society’s view of female sexuality and beauty ideals. Central to the brand were the “Angels”—supermodels like Stephanie Seymour, Tyra Banks, and Heidi Klum posing in G-strings and wings, strutting down the runway at the annual fashion show and in high-concept commercials.

As the company grew, the VS catalog and fashion shows became a destination for young women looking for sexy, feminine, and seductive attire. It also became a lifelong dream for many models to get hired by the brand, with Angel contracts worth millions of dollars. The company’s lingerie-themed ads and fashion shows featured some of the world’s most beautiful women, including Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, and Karen Mulder.

Over the years, the company shifted its image from subtle sex appeal to overt body affirmation and corporate wokeness. During this time, the company’s reputation for sexual objectification exploded. But despite the company’s multiyear pivot to inclusivity, it’s clear that many consumers aren’t buying it. In fact, the company is losing market share.

Its new advertising and marketing campaigns feature a variety of body types, heights, and ethnicities—though not always on the same model—and aims to make its products more accessible. The VS Collective—a group of diverse female celebrities, including soccer star Megan Rapinoe and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who serve as the faces of the new campaign—is another effort to shift the perception of the brand. The brand has even nixed its infamous fashion show, though Waters hinted in a 2021 investor call that it could bring it back at some point.

But it may be too late to win over young women who had previously turned their noses up at the pink-and-black lingerie retailer, with companies such as AdoreMe offering an array of bras in every color, style, and size imaginable. And for those who do shop at VS, the company’s new, less-is-more approach is likely to alienate its core base of loyalists who are still drawn to the brand because of its sexy and flattering pieces.