‘Fallen Angel’ shares the dark side of megabrand Victoria’s Secret

Society & Culture October 14, 2021
Listen to ‘Fallen Angel’

C13Originals presents “Fallen Angel,” a documentary series about the iconic brand, Victoria’s Secret. Past the annual Fashion Shows, glamour, Angels, lingerie, and cultural phenomenon the brand has fronted for over 40 years, there are oh-so-many secrets.

Journalists Vanessa Grigoriadis and Justine Harman co-host this podcast to speak with insiders who experienced the brand’s dark side. Through firsthand narratives, this series digs through Victoria Secret’s history and also uncovers how the brand impacted women’s notions of beauty, sex, and desire.

Harman stated, “In a culture actively questioning itself, how do we not examine the brand that defined ‘sexy’ for an entire generation of American women?” The interviews with those behind-the-scenes reflect the distorted reality, image, and narratives the brand was feeding its models and customers. And how ideas, such as empowerment, are twisted over time and used for the brand’s benefit.

Who is Les Wexner?

Episodes will also investigate Les Wexner’s life, the man who has been in charge of Victoria’s Secret for over 35 years. We learn about Les’ association to and rapport with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who managed his money for twenty years.

The first two episodes, “Thong Song” and “Emotional Content” begin to unpack the brand’s controversies, foul play, and threats of retaliation for anyone who wanted to complain. Listeners hear about the supermodel status the Angels would rise to if chosen, and how it was essentially “signing a deal with the Devil” where Angels like Giselle, Tyra, and Karlie would be paid handsomely to strut down the runway with feather headdresses and bedazzled lingerie. But at what cost? Models reported taking extreme measures to maintain their elite status and faced issues such as sexual abuse, anxiety, ailing health, eating disorders, depression, and more.

Model Bridget Malcolm shares her story

In episode one, we hear from model Bridget Malcolm who shares personal horror stories when working with the brand. In preparation to become an Angel, she worked out incessantly and relied on anti-anxiety meds. Bridget felt terrible, and her body wasn’t optimally working. She found her protein shake and steamed vegetable diet to be unsustainable, as she grappled with hunger and felt her personality slipping away.

Bridget was axed from the brand’s 2017 Fashion Show when her hips measured 33.5 inches, half an inch gained since her last check-in. She realized how unnatural and unhealthy this lifestyle was. Bridget discussed the mental health struggles she has developed since her time as an Angel, suffering from panic attacks and PTSD.

We also learn about Victoria Secret’s former chief marketing officer, Ed Razek. Former Victoria’s Secret employee Casey Crowe Taylor shared the types of comments and conduct she heard via Ed’s interactions with people at photo shoots and fashion shows. This episode shares Ed’s alleged controversies with models such as Bella Hadid in 2018, where he made crude comments. We’ll hear how the #MeToo movement impacted its sales.

Future guests

Throughout the series, Vanessa and Justine will be joined by: Victoria’s Secret Angel Erin Heatherton; models Sharam Diniz, Dorothea Barth-Jörgensen and Sara Ziff; Les Wexner’s former money manager Harold Levin; retail analysts Ike Boruchow and Simeon Siegel; former creative director and president of J. Crew, Jenna Lyons; former Victoria’s Secret employee Cynthia Fedus-Fields; and Heidi Zak, Co-Founder and CEO of Third Love.

Vanessa and Justine host additional podcasts

Vanessa Grigoriadis currently contributes to The New York Times Magazine and Vanity Fair. She co-created the podcasts “Chameleon: The Hollywood Con Queen,” Tabloid: The Making of Ivanka Trump, and co-founded the company, Campside Media.

Justine Harman was previously the fashion features director at Glamour magazine and worked at Elle and People magazines. She developed the podcasts “Broken Harts,” “The Baron of Botox,” “O.C. Swingers,” and founded the storytelling studio 39 Stories.

For new episodes of “Fallen Angel,” tune in on Wednesdays.

Listen to ‘Fallen Angel’

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