Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons on Hulu

The new three-part documentary series “Victoria Secret: Angels and Demons” on Hulu opens with backstage scenes at the lingerie company’s annual fashion show. There are a few minutes left before the model-led runway show is scheduled to start, and the models — known as Angels, or the brand’s ambassadors — are giddy, gushing to one another as scads of photographers snap their photos.

The series traces the evolution of Victoria’s Secret, which was founded in 1977 by Roy Raymond and his wife Gaye. By the 1980s, Victoria’s Secret was a major player in the lingerie industry, with five stores and a 40-page catalog, as well as a booming business that would grow to include an international network of shops and an annual $70 million TV special featuring a sexy parade of pin-up-esque bombshells clad in the brand’s trademark lace, satin and mesh.

But by the end of the decade, the model landscape had changed. The rise of the #MeToo movement and calls for more representational inclusivity — in terms of body size, race and ethnicity and gender – made it difficult for Victoria’s Secret to maintain its dominance. Overtly inclusive lingerie companies like ThirdLove and Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty began eroding the company’s market share. And by the 2016 show, sales were down.

Despite these challenges, Victoria’s Secret has been resilient. The company has shifted its strategy to focus on the core lingerie business, while also adding more casual apparel. And it has reimagined its marketing to highlight women of all shapes and sizes, with the hope that they will see themselves as part of the Victoria’s Secret family.

Last year, the company added Hungary’s Barbara Palvin to its roster of VS Angels. In an Instagram post, users celebrated the fact that Palvin was curvier than some of the other Angels, and that she looked “healthy.” It was just one of several positive moves by Victoria’s Secret, which had also hired its first openly transgender model.

This week, the company announced that it had reimagined its board of directors so that all but one of the seats will be filled by women. And in an ad campaign, it partnered with actress Priyanka Chopra and soccer star Megan Rapinoe to add diversity to the roster of Victoria’s Secret “Angels.”

But even as the company continues to make changes, its troubled history is still fresh in consumers’ minds. A Matt Tyrnauer documentary on the company’s founder, Les Wexner, and his ties to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein that is due to be released in early 2024 will only serve to keep the brand in the news.

Still, the company is hoping that it can reclaim its old glory with its new messaging. “Victoria Secret’s goal is to have every woman feel like she has the power to love herself exactly as she is,” says the company in a statement. It’s a message that it’ll have to prove true if it wants to keep its pink empire alive.