In a narrative that none of us expected, Victoria's Secret has gone back on their word and added a transgender model to their books.
Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio confirmed the news with a behind-the-scenes image of her posing in the brand’s Pink sub-line, writing: “Never stop dreaming” to her 201,000 Instagram followers.
Valentina has been creating waves in the modelling industry, as she was the first transgender model to be on the cover of Vogue Paris in 2017. Since then she has appeared on the covers of German Vogue and Brazilian Vogue, and now she’s breaking down barriers at VS.
Fellow angel Lais Ribero was quick to welcome Valentina into the family, tweeting: “First transgender to shoot with VS! This makes me so happy!”.
The move will come as a surprising one to anyone who has been following Victoria's Secret related drama for the past year. The brand has come under fire of late for their lack of diversity and inclusivity, both with the choice of models and behind the scenes.
In a statement last year, Victoria’s Secret executive Ed Razek said the brand would not use trans models because “the show is a fantasy”.
He stated to Vogue Runway: “It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us. And they carp at us because we’re the leader."
The comment unsurprisingly wreaked havoc for the brand who were scrutinised for their out-of-touch viewpoint. Razek later issued an apology and less than a year later Victoria’s Secret has cast their first transgender model.
Was the backlash to Razek’s comments the driving force behind Valentina’s hire? Almost definitely.
What's even more interesting is that Razek – the man responsible for a homogenous, airbrushed and sexualized brand image that is now largely seen as outdated – has just announced his retirement.
It is likely the world’s reaction to his past comments provided a much-needed reality check for Victoria’s Secret who is finally championing some much-needed diversity. And here's to more of that.