This past Monday evening the Super Bowl of fashion shows aired on CBS. The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is arguably one of the most important fashion shows that currently exists.
The lingerie brand throws an annual blow-out fashion show which airs every December. This year’s Parisian event completely blew past previous expectations.
At 10pm on Monday I plopped down onto my couch with a glass of wine and a tub of popcorn. There may have also been some ice cream involved, as well as chocolate sauce. I have never felt guiltier about my low gym attendance than I did while watching wafer thin girls in pieces of lace and feathers strut down the catwalk. Although the show was missing angel veterans and new mamas Behati Prinsloo and Candice Swanepoel, the broadcast featured a slew of recognizable faces. Older angels such as Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Lily Aldridge all made an appearance. As well, younger models Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid walked alongside Victoria’s Secret’s newest addition Bella Hadid.
The show, like always, was a fabulous flurry of feathers, music, lace, and glitter. Bruno Mars and The Weeknd gave performances that made you want to dance and Lady Gaga put on an interesting act. However, sitting on the couch, I began to contemplate how much I really knew about the billion-dollar brand that sucks me into its heavily fragranced stores every time I enter a mall.
Like any curious millennial, I pulled out my phone and googled. It turns out Victoria does have a secret.
Roy Raymond started the underwear giant back in 1977. After enduring an extremely uncomfortable trip to a department store to buy his wife lingerie Raymond had an epiphany. He realized there was not a single place he felt comfortable purchasing women’s underwear and became inspired to create a male friendly lingerie shop which he called Victoria’s Secret.
It is speculated he chose to call the store ‘Victoria’ to conjure the respectability linked with the Victorian era. The store appeared refined on the outside as Victoria’s ‘secrets’ remained hidden inside.
By 1982 Raymond had opened a few more stores but was close to bankruptcy. He had made the fatal mistake of advertising solely to male consumers. Ask any women, “who has purchased the majority of the underwear in your draws?” I guarantee you the answer will be her.
Just as Raymond had previously felt uncomfortable in lingerie shops so did women in his shops. Raymond had hit the jackpot of ideas but was unable to expand on it. Raymond proceeded to sell the company to sportswear mogul Leslie Wexner for around $1,000,000.
Wexner quickly redirected marketing towards women and men which turned a handful of shops into a booming empire. Wexner toned down the over sexualized catalogues by hiring gorgeous yet elegant models. He made the stores brighter, more modern, and lively. He created a catalogue men enjoyed looking at and stores women loved shopping in.
By 1995 the brand launched its now iconic catwalk shows which featured household names such as Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, and Adriana Lima.
Today, the company is worth over a billion dollars. However, Raymond reaped only a crumb of Victoria’s Secret’s bakery of success. After his divorce in 1993 and a failed business venture Raymond jumped off the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge.
Raymond’s original instincts in his Victoria’s Secret venture were right on the money. However, his misdirected marketing and quick decision to sell turned him into a tragic tale.
Raymond’s legacy continues on in the annual VSFS. Monday night several of the world’s highest paid models strutted down the Paris runway in barely-there pieces of lace and giant wings donned with Swarovski crystals and even diamonds in a grand production that draws in millions of viewers globally.
One cannot determine exactly what Raymond’s reasons were for committing suicide. It is safe to say his decisions surrounding Victoria’s Secret may have motivated his actions. Money can push people to the edge, but it is not to say that the billion dollars Victoria’s Secret is now valued at would have stopped Raymond from taking his deadly jump.
Money can not buy happiness, however giving away your dreams can be fatal.