Valentine’s Day and Victoria’s Secret go together like peanut butter and jelly. There isn’t another occasion where the gifting of lingerie is more appropriate, which means no other day gets the same kind of attention from VS as Valentine’s.
It’s also the one time of year when the lingerie giant puts sexy™ on the backburner, if only briefly. For a few weeks a year, Victoria’s Secret isn’t selling knickers and nighties or bombshell boob-shapers. They’re selling love.
The company’s 2011 collection takes a two-pronged approach to Valentine’s Day that ensures no one is left out, not even the lonely hearts.
Love Me, the more heavily promoted of the two groupings, is featured in photographs showing a gorgeous Adriana Lima munching flowers while decked out in a lacy black and leopard print bra, or Candice Swanepoel wearing nothing but a red-and-pink lacie thong decorated with a bedazzled heart. The entire collection screams seduction, but the copy says something else: “Tempt me. Tease me. Thrill me. Love me.”
As slogans go, this one — like the overall vision of love put forward by Victoria’s Secret — is a bit hard to decipher and contains a few mixed messages.
Is “Love Me” a simple invitation? A playful command? Or the pathetic bleat of a needy co-dependent? Does the girl in the bra have to beg for and demand her man’s affection? And , if so, is a new set of smokin’ lingerie really going to make a difference?
These are products meant to make men happy and to make them love women — or at least want them badly enough to pretend. Some of the VS Love Me items are beautiful and tasteful (like the black-and-white lace appliqué satin slip or the retro sexy lace garter slip) while others miss the mark. Take the sexy apron and underwear sets in the cupcake pattern, which could have been whimsical if they weren’t leaning towards slightly tacky. However, the marketing genius that is Victoria’s Secret means that even if a product is below average style-wise it’s difficult to notice through all the promotional smoke and mirrors. Here’s the promo video for the collection:
The VS Love Me collection features a lot of red, pink, black and white as well as animal prints and lace. And the company has broken it down into separate categories — namely Love Me Sexy, Love Me Romantic, Love Me Flirty, Love Me Dreamy, Love Me Sweet, Love Me Wild — to help women further define their intentions and keep their undies drawers organized at the same time.
But trying to nail down Victoria’s Secret’s take on love isn’t easy. Just when you think they’re really in the business of serving women to men by peddling garden-variety erotic stereotypes, they throw us a curveball.
The second front in the VS V-Day assault introduces a totally different and new (to them) Valentine’s concept: V-Day is Me Day .
For the single girl who still likes beautiful things, this collection includes a wide variety of whimsical and flirty styles. From bras to pajamas, body spray to t-shirts, these items can be used by those who are both single and attached. Many of the items are decked out in cheeky slogans like “I Heart French Kissing” and “You Wanna Be Mine.” Items that are still centered on the idea of love and romance, albeit in a self-mocking, tongue-in-cheek way. No hearts are broken, and no one gets hurt.
The V-Day is Me Day theme seems to be a total 180 from Victoria’s Secret’s more conventional promotions, which may be why it’s kept on down-low and a bit lost amid all the Love Me marketing. Still, it reminds the impressionable VS audience of an important truth at a time when everyone’s hungry for romance — love yourself first.
Besides, playing both sides of the Valentine’s Day fence is a great way for Victoria’s Secret to ensure that women both single and attached are wearing something with a VS tag on Valentine’s Day.
Below are some images from the Victoria’s Secret Valentine’s Day lookbook (hover over images to learn product names). Fans can chat directly with supermodels Erin, Lily and Candice today (Feb. 9) at 6 p.m. EST on the VS Facebook Page, where the girls will no doubt tell us what love means to them.