Since its inception in 1995, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has been an over-the-top lingerie extravaganza. What else can be expected from a company that sell’s women’s undergarments, sleepwear and swimwear?
Over the years, the event has grown to become even more fantastical, with the introduction of giant angel wings to represent the brand’s signature Dream Angels bra, big-name musical performers and the literal pièce de résistance of each show: the fantasy bra made entirely out of precious materials like diamonds, emeralds, sapphires topaz and gold and worn by a select model. (Tonight Elsa Hosk took the honor.)
The runway looked a little different this year, though. Sure, there were plenty of angel wings, done in a variety of over-the-top feathers, and coordinating bra-and-panty ensembles worn by the models (who are known to very publicly document their pre-show diet and training routines).
But the show also looked decidedly more modest. In addition to the usual lingerie, models also walked out wearing shorts, tracksuits, puffer jackets, minidresses, hoodies and long, flowing robes. There were also plenty of catsuits, long-sleeve crop tops and leggings — form-fitting, undergarment-like items that also happened to show way less skin than Victoria’s Secret’s typical looks.
Was the more modest runway simply a showing of current trends? Catsuits in wild prints have also been a mainstay of brands like Versace, and the show’s plaids, puffers and printed coordinates are all buzzy items this season.
But as the fashion and entertainment worlds continue to live in a post-#MeToo era, the covered-up runway looks feel more poignant. Earlier this year, some wondered if Victoria’s Secret’s declining sales and “buzz score” on public opinion firm YouGov’s BrandIndex were a result of the company’s message being tone-deaf to the current social climate. Branding experts were quick to point out that the company’s sales decline was already in motion before #MeToo’s genesis in October 2017.
Movements like #MeToo — and even the push to get more women elected into political office — have undoubtedly had a more holistic impact on fashion at large and the trends that it has produced as of late. The tendencies toward full-coverage dresses and longer hemlines (and against the “naked dress” of 2015) have developed in-sync with the political, socioeconomic and intellectual pushes to women’s equality, especially in the past year. “Sexy” dressing has been decidedly out-of-fashion — at least on the runways.
Whether Victoria’s Secret’s (slight) step towards modesty will have a positive impact on its reputation (and, ultimately, its sales) remains to be seen. At the least, the shift shows the brand in a more realistic light, with less angel wings and more of what most American women are familiar with: leggings.