When we think of Victoria’s Secret, many different things come to mind. We think of the bras, underwear, lingerie, workout clothing, perfumes, body sprays and lotions that are sold in their distinctive stores worldwide. Of course one of Victoria’s Secret main revenue builders are their beautiful and gorgeous models who parade themselves down the runway each year for the extremely popular and ever-morphing fashion show. Almost as American as apple pie and baseball, the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show leaves women around the world wanting to look like them, and men wanting to be with them. Maybe they wouldn’t though if they knew some of the “secrets" that go along with the company.
As you continue reading you will soon discover the company has many not so angelic business practices that are disturbing, to say the least. From animal cruelty allegations and body image shaming to the crazy and extreme dieting of some of their highest paid models. Not to mention the many over-the-top extravagant items they have their models wear for the fashion show, that 99% of us could never afford to buy and even if we could, we probably wouldn’t.
Victoria's Secret may be one of the most eye-catching companies in the world, but as you're about to learn, it definitely isn't for all the right reasons.
15 The Show Costs Millions To Put On, But Earns Even More
Boy how things have evolved over the years when it comes to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. The first show which was not even televised had a very small budget of $120,000 compared to the 2012 show which was televised and cost more than an eye-popping $12 million. Surprisingly enough, however, the show generates more revenue from its advertising then the cost to put it on. No other retailer, not even Super Bowl advertisers, have that kind of reach when it comes to advertising.
L. Brands company, who owns Victoria’s Secret among other companies, has also grown with the times, most certainly in part due to the fashion show’s enormous popularity and success. It debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in 1995 with a worth of about $1.9 billion and now has exploded to today’s $22 billion dollar market cap.
CBS’ holds the rights to broadcast the fashion show and pays dearly for it. That along with commercial time sold allows the company to rake in millions. Monica Mitro, Victoria’s Secret Brand Communications Executive VP said, “It’s the only one-hour network show dedicated to a single brand. It puts our brand in front of millions of people around the world during the crucial holiday period.” What that equates to is huge bucks being made. They like to share what the cost is but not what the take is. Now you know.
14 It's a "Fantasy Bra" For a Reason
If you have somewhere between one and fifteen million dollars to spare, you can be the proud owner of Victoria’s Secret mega jewel encrusted fantasy bra. Oh, by the way, did I mention that you better have the exact same measurements as the supermodel chosen to wear it for that year? Because it was completely custom made for her.
It was in 1996 that Victoria’s Secret fantasy bra made its debut in the catalog, with a product description of “The ultimate holiday gift”- seriously? The company has rolled with this idea and tagline ever since and it’s hard to understand why because they usually don’t sell, they just get dismantled for their bling and then used again for another bra. There aren’t many bras that cost between one to fifteen million dollars that are top sellers.
The first ever fantasy bra was worn by Claudia Schiffer and dripping with over 100 karats of diamonds it cost a mere one million dollars. Gisele Bundchen in 2000 wore the most expensive one ever, named the “Red Hot Fantasy Bra”, probably because it dawned 300 beautiful red Thai Rubies amongst the 1,300 gemstones on it. It cost $15 million and it was in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most expensive lingerie item ever created. In 2006 it was surpassed by a 20 million dollar bra that was never even featured in the show.
13 Tickets To The Show Grants Access To Party
In 2011 Alessandra Ambrosio wore a pair of Swarovski Crystal covered wings, the heaviest ever, that tipped the scales at over 40-pounds. The amazing thing about that is she was 4 months pregnant at the time. I wonder how much iron she had to pump to be to be able to carry those things around? Heidi Klum wore the second largest diamond in the world (70-carats) which was the centerpiece of a Fantasy Bra. She also wore the biggest wings ever, spanning almost 12 feet high. Making the runway sparkle is a must have for the show and in 2013, 125 pounds of glitter was used to do this. Honorable mentions are the 40 cans of hairspray and 3 lipsticks per girl used backstage.
Front row seats for the show are available, but not unless you are an A-list celeb, a recognizable sports figure, popular musician or one of the models significant other or in some cases, all of the above. Seat prices start at $12,500 to $14,000 if you purchase them from a prime ticket broker. Charitable organizations have some of the seats donated to them as well, but the most important thing about the tickets are that they give you after-party access, and can you put a price tag on that?
While these aren’t numbers that the company wants to really hide, they sure are amazing.
12 Hair Extensions, Fake Eyelashes, and Spray On Tans
Known worldwide for their gorgeous, show-stopping beauties on the runway and in the catalogs, hair extensions have become an essential part of that sexy look Victoria’s Secret wants to create with their models. Up until recently, every single one of their models had worn hair extensions to achieve that long flowing locks look we have all come to know. The fashion show in 2013 used over 180 feet of the extensions for that show alone. There have been a few times models have walked the fashion show catwalk with their natural hair but that was probably because they were sporting what is called the twa (teeny weeny Afro).
Another Victoria’s Secret beauty look for the angels are their feathered long lashes. We all have seen the signature seductive winks the angels give the cameras at the end of the runway before they make their turn and walk away. Well, these girls have the patience of an angel because it takes about ninety minutes laying on a table unable to do anything, while the lash technician painstakingly glues each lash extension on one by one.
The muscle-defining spray tan is also an essential part of Victoria’s Secret look that we have all grown accustomed to. With custom-mixed shades for that angel glow, every model gets a spray tan as part of their regimen.
They want you to think all their beauties are that way when they wake up in the morning. Now you know that they don’t.
11 PETA's Harassment of Gisele
Lingerie has changed greatly from back in the day (1995) when Victoria’s Secret models strolled the runways wearing slinky slips accessorized with handbags and sweaters. Today wings are the things, making the bras and underwear of yesteryear look oddly strange. In 1996 baby dolls were the thing and the shows lighting slightly improved, but it pales in comparison to today’s show spectacle. The wings first runway appearance was in 1998 but it was not until a year later that they became the focal point of the show. Now the underwear has become just one small part of the whole costume.
During the early years, a core group of models like Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, and Gisele Bundchen began their careers and helped make a name for the brand. In 2000, the show raised money for fighting AIDS to the tune of $3.5 million dollars, but they haven't only received positive press.
In 2002, PETA harassed model Gisele during her walk on the runway due to her wearing of fur. The fashion show has also gotten significantly more dramatic (and a bit stranger) when talking about what the girls may walk down dressed as, like Heidi as a big snowflake in 2007 and a giant bow in 2008.
In terms of remembering what used to be, the company is a lot like the WWE. They don’t want people to remember the past, they only want you to focus on right now. This way you don’t realize how ridiculous things have become.
10 Musicians & Star Power is a Must
The Victoria’s Secret fashion show has become so much more than just scantily clad models strutting the catwalk in sexy lingerie. Every year millions of people gather around the set to watch some of the best and most popular musical artists. Some of the musical power that has shared the runway with the angels is almost hard to fathom. Acts like the Spice Girls and Rihanna, to Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars, Selena Gomez, Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry. Of course, who can forget ‘two-timer’ Taylor Swift, who was given the title of Honorary Angel by the angels, probably because she wears almost as much glitter and sparkle as them.
When these musicians take the stage they will not be overshadowed by the angels so they pull out all the stops to keep the millions of watchers eyes on them and not the angels. The Caribbean beauty Rihanna in 2012 looked gorgeous with beautiful waves in her hair, reminiscent of the 1940’s. Wearing booties with sky high heels and a delicate sheer black dress, she literally rocked out and looked better than some of the models did. The Black Eyed Peas in 2009 used black lighting while the audience waved green glow sticks to create a very futuristic look and in 2006 Justin Timberlake‘s moves when he performed were so good they even distracted the angels from doing their thing.
Yes, the show is about the models and the product but the company uses whatever star power it can get to attract more viewers.
9 There Are Actually Two Runway Shows Filmed
The show is strategically aired after Black Friday and before Christmas for obvious reasons. You can set your calendar to it just like WrestleMania or the World Series or the Stanley Cup Finals. They all happen the same time every year.
The first fashion show was held in 1995 in NYC at the Plaza Hotel but it wasn’t televised. Stephanie Seymour and Veronica Webb were the first beauties to walk the catwalk for what was to become iconic in the fashion industry. A webcast of the show was done in 1999 and in 2001 it finally arrived into our living rooms on network television.
Sometimes nearly 50 models, crew members, makeup artists, and hairstylist have to share only one bathroom backstage. The models are spoiled with lavish buffets featuring pizza, cupcakes, and beverages, but be careful angles, remember you may have only one bathroom to use.
It takes hours (sometimes as long as five hours per girl) for the angels to get ready to take their walk and strut their stuff. Victoria’s Secret actually films not one but two of the same runway shows. Just like a director needs more than one take to make a great film, the television show takes the best footage from both shows. So keep that in mind the next time you watch the “live show”.
One more interesting thing to note, as far as beauty products are concerned, an average of 150 tubes of lip gloss and 40 cans of hairspray are used per show.
8 Why Their Advertisements Are Geared At Women
If you have ever walked by or into Victoria’s Secret store you can’t help but notice the advertisements plastered all over the windows, walls, and displays with their beautiful models appearing larger than life in the photographs. If by any chance you have ever taken a glance in their catalogs you can’t help but notice the same thing, the models always appear extremely confident - probably not really much of a stretch when you look like that, though. They always seem happy and carefree but there is one thing missing from their photos - men. Women who are strong and confident don’t need to have a man around so that is one reason why the models appeal to women.
The Victoria’s Secret models also don’t wear too much makeup, giving them a very healthy, clean and natural look. They are done up to exactly what they need and not a brush stroke more. Their poses are really not too suggestive either, so you certainly wouldn’t confuse their advertisements with that of a strip club. Not to mention that Victoria’s Secret has a very youthful ‘PINK’ line, which appeals to women of all ages and sizes. You can have twenty-five-year-old wearing the same pants or jackets as a woman in her forties because Victoria’s Secret doesn’t discriminate when it comes to making money. But they do know that women create the market. If women don’t buy it themselves they’ll have their partner buy it for them.
7 VS is Named After a Queen and Hiding Private Parts
Between 1837 and 1901 there was a period of time in the United Kingdom known as the Victorian era (preceded by Georgian era and followed by the Edwardian era). This period of prosperity and peace was reigned by none other than Queen Victoria. Known for her “refined sensibilities” she was a highly moralistic woman - aka “A big prude”. This is where the ‘Victoria’ part of the name comes from. The ‘Secret’ part of the name refers to specific body parts themselves that are kept hidden and the underwear that hides them. I guess the name Victoria’s Underwear would not have a great ring to it and probably would not have prompted many shoppers to pull out their money.
What founder Roy Raymond was imagining when he came up with the name was a beautiful place with luxurious silk draperies, colorful oriental rugs, and rich dark wood, just like what was found in a Victorian boudoir. Using the Queen’s name, which evoked respectability and feelings of hidden sexuality, along with the great prosperity and vast appreciation of the arts during the Victorian era, Raymond’s idea came to fruition. Thankfully he chose the Victorian era because I don’t think Edward’s Secret would have brought forth the same results.
Sadly, Raymond's life ends in tragedy as he committed suicide, but more on that below!
6 It Was Cancelled in 2004 and FCC Receives Complaints
The show must go on despite the FCC being flooded with complaints each and every year. The company never likes to discuss the yearly complaints lodged against the scantily clad beauties parading down the catwalk with near nothing on, in front of millions of viewers of all ages. Only one time in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show history did it not go on. In 2004 CBS pulled it from their lineup because they were still very nervous and feeling the repercussions of the infamous Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” with Janet Jackson. They already had enough complaints that year and they weren’t looking for more.
Complaints pour in annually to the FCC from such varied organizations like the American Family Organization, Native American Groups, National Organization for Women and the American Decency Association. These groups claim Victoria’s Secret fashion show and their aired advertisements are indecent and obscene. Michael Copps, the FCC commissioner stated, “When enforcing the indecency laws of the United States, it is the Commission’s responsibility to investigate complaints that the law has been violated, not the citizen’s responsibility to prove the violations.”
So there you go folks, our tax dollars hard at work again. As the show keeps growing each year getting bigger and more elaborate, it might just be best for these varied organizations to give up the fight and maybe focus their attentions elsewhere - have you seen The Walking Dead lately? Let the angels strut their stuff into the living rooms of viewers who want to watch them. If you don’t want to see just keep the remote handy and click them off.
5 Lima Cuts Out Solid Food 9 Days Before a Show
The Brazilian beauty, Adriana Lima, is indisputably one of Victoria’s Secret’s most successful and popular angels of all time. She has been an Angel with the company since 1999 and has been very open in past interviews about her experiences including her dieting techniques. As well as this, Lima has admitted some of the extreme measures she takes before hitting the runway for a show.
At one point right after her pregnancy Lima only had an eight week period of time from her daughter’s birth until the day of the fashion show to get her body back into runway shape. The first three weeks she spent recovering and just resting. This left her five weeks to prepare for the show with an amped up grueling workout regimen of 7 days a week, twice daily, for at least four to six hours a day.
Dr. Charles Passler, Lima’s nutritionist, gave himself the nickname “The emergency guy” because of his ability to trim the models down rather quickly. His simple diet approach has six steps, exercise and diet of course, along with sleep, hydration, breathing and stress management. Lima follows these steps and goes above and beyond by cutting out all solid foods nine days before a show. She consumes only liquids for that time, and 12 hours before the show she stops drinking completely, not even water. That just isn’t healthy at all and the company doesn’t want future models to know the suffering they may have to endure to be an angel.
4 Angels Makes Bank - Top 9 Made $245 Million
I guess job perks like having personal trainers to help keep that spectacular physique, along with multi-million dollar contracts can be a great motivating factor to keep your job. With the skyrocketing earnings of these ladies annually, it is mind-boggling the money they earn from modeling, outside adventures and endorsements.
The company, however, doesn’t want the public to know these figures. They want you to think that the models do it because they absolutely love the product and think that you should have it. Knowing what the girls make would also give you a glimpse into how much the company actually takes in each year. That would make it hard to justify some of the very expensive items. (See the Fantasy Bra)
In 2016 nine angels were listed on Forbes as some of the highest paid models in the fashion industry. With a combined worth believed to be around $245 million dollars, you can see why this can be a very lucrative job. You can only think about it though if you are lucky enough to have hit the genetic lottery. Last year it was estimated that Adriana Lima made a stunning $10.5 million, a big jump from the mere $4 million that twenty-year-old Taylor Hill earned.
Just in case you are wondering, Gisele has a net worth of about $360 million. So now you know how she and Tom take all of those vacations. You have to wonder what they buy each other for Christmas.
3 The Victoria’s Secret Owner Jumped Off a Bridge
Roy Raymond, a 30-year-old married guy with a Stanford MBA, wanted to buy his wife some sexy lingerie. When he went into a department store looking for some, the store clerk made him feel uneasy, almost like a pervert is how he described it. Not to mention the fact that the lingerie wasn’t very sexy at all. All he found were horrendous looking floral print nightgowns. After sharing his story with other male friends of his, he realized that he wasn’t the only one to feel that way. He quickly realized there was an opportunity to create a business where there was no competition.
He opened a store called Victoria’s Secret with an $80,000 investment and made $500,000 in year one. After opening three more stores and starting a catalog, five years later he sold the business to Leslie Wexner for a whopping $4 million. You want to talk about a huge return on investment, there it is! Sadly, just two years later the company was worth $500 million dollars. With that type of money, he could have bought Mrs. Raymond a few of those "Fantasy Bras".
He started another business but that failed miserably and Roy was forced to file a Chapter 11 petition. The Raymond’s got divorced in 1993 and tragically Roy Raymond committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
2 Controversy Around "The Perfect Body" Campaign
Victoria’s Secret’s not so politically correct “The Perfect Body” ad campaign slogan caused a huge uproar in the social media world. It offended millions of people, by suggesting that the ten models that they used in the ad campaign photographs had the perfect bodies. After a tremendous outpour of outrage from all avenues of social media, especially because some of the models appeared to have excessive rib cage exposure in the Body by Victoria lingerie ad, Change.org decided to start a petition.
After collecting almost 30,000 signatures, the three women who created the petition finally got their way and were overjoyed when Victoria’s Secret decided to rename their ‘Perfect Body’ campaign to ‘A Body for Every Body’. They were pleased but still felt that Victoria’s Secret had not done enough and they wanted an apology from them for putting out such an unhealthy message. In addition to the apology, they also wanted a promise from them to never use such harmful marketing techniques again in the future. What is funny about the whole thing is that the same exact photo is still being used today for the advertisement, just the words across the picture have been changed. Come on now, when you see a VS ad, do you even read the words?
1 They Condone and Use Animal Cruelty
After Victoria’s Secret had appeared to be an angel for keeping its promise to consumers to never test its body sprays and cosmetics on animals, the devil reared its ugly head. Victoria’s Secret, owned by L Brands, Inc., has decided to sell their products in China. The problem there is that the Chinese Food and Drug Administration mandates all imported cosmetics go through pre-market animal testing before they can be sold there. Oddly enough, L Brands, Inc. who also owns Bath & Body Works, has remained a cruelty-free company deciding not to sell to China. So while the parent company stands by not selling products there because of the mandates, Victoria’s Secret does this anyway. It’s almost like mom and dad don’t know what their kids are up to. However, you know that they know exactly what is going on and have decided to turn a blind eye to it in exchange for profits.
So while the parent company stands by not selling products there because of the mandates, Victoria’s Secret does this anyway. It’s almost like mom and dad don’t know what their kids are up to. However, you know that they know exactly what is going on and have decided to turn a blind eye to it in exchange for profits.
Banned fully or partially by law in at least 33 countries at this time, putting a stop to the outdated and horrific practice of testing cosmetics on animals, is slowly marching forward, but not in China. Surprisingly and sadly, annually 500,000 animals are abused around the world with cosmetic and ingredient testing. China alone uses almost three-quarters of them. Removed from their list of good companies that do not test on animals, PETA has now put Victoria’s Secret back on their not so angelic list of companies for not upholding their promise to their customers to be a cruelty-free company.