Victoria's Secret: New model is transgender woman, executive resigns

When times get tough, the tough …. hire a transgender model? That is the message from Victoria’s Secret, is seems. Ed Razek, the chief marketing executive for L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, has made the decision that it is time to say adios. To be fair, he’s been maneuvering in rough terrain for many months. Not only is Victoria’s Secret struggling to remain the gold standard for sexy lingerie, but there’s also the whole Jeffrey Epstein connection, too.

Valentina Sampaio, a Brazilian model, and actress made the announcement on her Instagram account because this is 2019 and that is how these things are done. The picture was one taken as Valentina worked on the Victoria’s Secret Pink campaign. She has a solid resume of international work for a 22-year-old. This is not her first transgender ceiling-breaker, either, as she was the first transgender model to grace the cover of any Vogue edition – hers was for Vogue Paris.

Sampaio is a 22-year-old transgender model from Brazil who began her career walking in São Paulo Fashion Week. She was subsequently cast in the ad campaign for the collaboration between L’Oréal Paris and Balmain in 2017. She also appeared on the cover of Vogue Paris for the March 2017 issue, marking the first time a transgender model appeared on the cover of any Vogue edition. She has since appeared on other Vogue covers, including the Brazilian and German editions, and on the covers of Elle Mexico and Brazil and in the pages of Vanity Fair Italy and Marie Claire Brazil. Sampaio has also worked with brands such as Philipp Plein, Moschino and Pollini, among others.

We will be made to accept the transgender agenda whether we want to or not. Transgender is the new black, to paraphrase a quote from the fashion industry. There was a time when a transgender reveal was a rarity, not a mainstream conversation. I’m old enough to remember Renee Richards, the tennis player, who was born Richard Raskind. There was a whole controversy over if Richards should be allowed to compete in women’s tennis competitions. VS Pink, for which Valentina was hired to market, is Victoria’s Secret athletic line.

It turns out that Razek got into some hot water last year because of a remark he made in a Vogue interview.

The marketing executive made headlines last year when he said in an interview with Vogue that Victoria’s Secret should not cast “transsexuals” in its fashion show “because the show is a fantasy.” Mr. Razek later apologized for his “insensitive” remarks.

I assume Valentina was brought on to mend fences and to be held up as a gesture of kumbaya to the transgender community. Victoria’s Secret also has to deal with the #MeToo movement and its connection to Jeffrey Epstein. For years, Epstein has been an adviser to Leslie H. Wexner, the company’s chief executive.

The Times reported last month that L Brands executives in the mid-1990s had learned that Mr. Epstein was trying to pitch himself as a recruiter for Victoria’s Secret models. They said Mr. Wexner was warned. Around the same time, a model said, Mr. Epstein lured her to his hotel room under the pretense of being a Victoria’s Secret talent scout and then attacked her.

L Brands has said it hired outside lawyers to “to conduct a thorough review” into the relationship between Mr. Wexner and Mr. Epstein.

The long knives are out from activist groups and Victoria’s Secret has had a hard time keeping up. It looks like the sexy lingerie fashion shows aren’t going to be televised anymore. That’s sure to bring sighs of disappointment from men across America. So much for the young women wearing wings and high heels sashaying down the runway. Transgender models are up-to-date, you see. And inclusive.

In May, after nearly two decades of star-studded events, Mr. Wexner said that the fashion show would no longer air on network television. Last week, the model Shanina Shaik told The Daily Telegraph that this year’s show was canceled entirely.

James A. Mitarotonda, who heads the activist investor Barington Capital Group, sent a letter in March to Mr. Wexner complaining about L Brands’ poor performance. Mr. Mitarotonda wrote that Victoria’s Secret needed to employ “a more inclusive marketing message” and that Mr. Razek “has done a poor job of stewarding Victoria’s Secret’s brand by failing to communicate a compelling, up-to-date image that resonates with today’s consumers.”