A new New York Times report has exposed the alleged “culture of misogyny inside Victoria’s Secret.” The report, which was published on February 1, features interviews with over 30 current and former executives, employees, and models who claim the brand has a history of misogyny, bullying, and sexual harassment.
Most allegations revolved around Ed Razek, former president and chief marketing officer, who stepped down from his position in August 2019 after making controversial comments about hiring transgender or curvy models for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
In one of the alleged incidents, Razek made lewd comments about Bella Hadid before the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show as she was getting measured for underwear. According to newspaper, he was sitting on a couch in the same room and allegedly said “forget the panties” before commenting that she should walk “down the runway with those perfect” breasts.
“That was the first time on a runway that I felt really sexy. Because when I first did Fenty, I was doing other lingerie shows and I never felt powerful on a runway, like, in my underwear,” Hadid said.
Model Andi Muise, who had participated in the VS fashion show for two consecutive years, said she repeatedly turned down Razek’s advances in 2007 and then was not cast in the next year’s show.
The Times also alleges Razek touched another model’s privates over her underwear, among several other allegations, including harassing women with intimate emails, asking them to sit on his lap, and trying to kiss them.
The report further alleges that L Brands founder and owner Leslie Wexner was aware of Razek’s behavior, but that he was also known to allegedly abuse his power and use demeaning language toward women.
“What was most alarming to me, as someone who was always raised as an independent woman, was just how ingrained this behavior was,” a former public relations employee said to the Times. “This abuse was just laughed off and accepted as normal. It was almost like brainwashing. And anyone who tried to do anything about it wasn’t just ignored. They were punished.”
Razek has since denied the allegations to the Times, insisting they are “categorically untrue, misconstrued or taken out of context,” adding that he’s been “fortunate to work with countless, world-class models and gifted professionals and take great pride in the mutual respect we have for each other.”
Victoria’s Secret has not addressed the accusations.