By Karli Poliziani

Victoria’s Secret Runway Revival: Is the Lingerie Spectacle Poised for Transformation?

Victoria's Secret's iconic fashion show is back! But can the lingerie giant adapt to a culture focused on inclusivity and body positivity?
Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 08: Elsa Hosk, Adriana Lima, Behati Prinsloo, and Candice Swanepoel pose during the finale of the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at Pier 94 on November 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

For nearly two decades, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show reigned supreme. Think dazzling wings, shimmering adornments, and electrifying musical performances — all woven into a captivating annual spectacle. However, by 2019, declining viewership and mounting criticism forced the show’s hiatus. Now, in a surprising turn of events, Victoria’s Secret announces its grand return for Fall 2024.

From Humble Beginnings to Global Phenomenon

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

NEW YORK, NY – CIRCA 1999: Gisele Bundchen at the 1999 Victoria’s Secret Fashion show circa 1999 in New York City. (Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)

The show’s journey began in 1995 as a modest event in New York City. Fast forward to the early 2000s, and the rise of supermodels like Gisele Bündchen and Heidi Klum propelled the show to stratospheric heights. The extravagant lingerie, elaborate wings donned by the models, and A-list musical performances like those by the Spice Girls and Beyoncé became a cultural phenomenon, drawing a captivated global audience.

Beyond the Glitz: A Shift in the Cultural Landscape

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
Alessandra Ambrosio, Selita Ebanks, Gisele Bundchen, Karolina Kurkova, Adriana Lima and Izabel Goulart (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

However, the extravagant show wasn’t without its detractors. Critics argued that it perpetuated an unrealistic and narrow ideal of beauty. The focus on heavily muscled, impossibly thin models clashed with the growing body-positive movement. Additionally, the lack of diversity on the runway sparked accusations of exclusion. In 2018, then-marketing chief Ed Razek’s comments regarding the exclusion of transgender models further fueled the controversy.

A Cancelled Show and a Digital Experiment

Candice Swanepoel on the red carpet at the Victoria’s Secret World Tour 2023 event at The Manhattan Center on September 6, 2023 in New York, New York. (Photo by Gilbert Flores/WWD via Getty Images)

These factors, combined with declining viewership, ultimately led to the show’s cancellation in 2019. In 2023, Victoria’s Secret attempted a partial revival with Victoria’s Secret: The Tour ’23, a documentary featuring glimpses of a fashion show filmed in Bogotá, Lagos, London, and Tokyo, broadcasted on Prime Video. However, it lacked the global reach and impact of the original televised event.

A New Chapter: Embracing Change or Recapturing the Past?

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 08: Bella Hadid and Halsey walk the runway during the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at Pier 94 on November 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

Victoria’s Secret’s recent announcement hints at a potential course correction. The brand has undergone significant changes in recent years, embracing inclusivity and body positivity in its marketing campaigns. Their social media channels showcase a wider range of models with diverse body types and ethnicities. Their Instagram announcement for the show’s return states, “We’ve read the comments and heard you,” suggesting a willingness to adapt to evolving consumer preferences.

TOPSHOT – (FromL) Filipino model Kelsey Merritt, New Zealand model Maia Cotton, US model Willow Hand, US model Iesha Hodges, Dutch model Myrthe Bolt and Ivorian model Melie Tiacoh walk the runway at the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show on November 8, 2018 at Pier 94 in New York City. – Every year, the Victoria’s Secret show brings its famous models together for what is consistently a glittery catwalk extravaganza. It’s the most-watched fashion event of the year (800 million tune in annually) with around 12 million USD spent on putting the spectacle together according to Harper’s Bazaar. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

Whether the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show can recapture its past glory or emerge as a more inclusive and representative event remains to be seen. However, one thing is certain: Fall 2024 marks the return of the lingerie giant to the runway, ushering in a new chapter for this iconic show.

This story originally appeared on GRAZIA International.