How big has the #iamperfect hashtag protest against Victoria’s Secret advertising become? Well, for starters, that’s Lady Gaga below, weighing in on the subject earlier today.
The social media campaign behind an online petition that asks the lingerie company to remove ads bearing the words “The Perfect Body” has exploded in the past two days, with thousands of people worldwide adding their voices.
Other companies unaffiliated with Victoria’s Secret have spoken out, too, and New York underwear brand Dear Kate went so far as to create the above visual rebuttal in a hastily assembled photoshoot early today.
According to the petition on Change.org, the Victoria’s Secret billboards “play on women’s insecurities, and send out a damaging message by positioning the words ‘The Perfect Body’ across models who have exactly the same, very slim body type.
“All this does is perpetuate low self-esteem among women who are made to feel that their bodies are inadequate and unattractive because they do not fit into a narrow standard of beauty. It contributes to a culture that encourages serious health problems such as negative body image and eating disorders.”
Below, we’ve assembled 25 tweets from the #iamperfect campaign that give a sense of what women are angry about and how they want Victoria’s Secret to respond. And yes, we’ve included some of the more … relevant … comments from people who oppose the campaign.
For more, read our earlier report: “Victoria’s Secret Ignores ‘Perfect Body’ Critics At Its Own Peril”
The worst thing about Victoria’s Secret‘s repugnant “Perfect Body” ad campaign isn’t that it’s hurtful to women, it’s that the giant lingerie retailer refuses to participate in the worldwide conversation it has started.
It’s been NINE DAYS since a trio of UK college students launched an online petition asking Victoria’s Secret to remove ads showing the words “The Perfect Body” superimposed over a lineup of 10 slender, lookalike supermodels.
The ads show up on billboards and mall displays in both the UK and U.S. and promote a new bra style in the company’s Body by Victoria collection. The text on the ads refers specifically to the bra’s name, but the unavoidable double meaning has enflamed women everywhere.
The petition has so far gathered more than 15,000 signatures and sparked a social media squall around the hashtag #IAmPerfect, with most commenters slamming Victoria’s Secret for “body-shaming” anyone who doesn’t resemble the company’s Amazonian Angels.
The company’s response? Not a single word.
The campaign has received blanket media coverage in recent days and the online debate has metastasized wildly, bringing overlapping issues like body image, idealized beauty standards, fat shaming, racial diversity, photoshopped ads and other subjects into the conversation. (Predictably, it has also triggered a backlash from virulent, chauvinistic trolls too.)
If the company’s initial offence in creating the ‘Perfect Body’ ads was unintended (let’s give them the benefit of the doubt), its continuing silence on the issue is both perverse and inexplicably dumb. Especially since defusing the situation would have been so easy. Any PR intern could crank out a boilerplate corporate mea culpa and quell the controversy, like this:
“Victoria’s Secret has always supported women of all kinds and rejects any suggestion that one individual’s body shape or size is more worthy than any other. Our advertising is meant to promote healthy lifestyles and happy women regardless of their appearance. We sincerely apologize for any unintended offense caused by our recent campaign.”
It took me 20 seconds to write that — see how easy it is?
Instead, Victoria’s Secret clings to a public relations strategy that looks like it was borrowed from Hong Kong’s political leaders, who resolutely ignore protesters week after week in the delusional hope that one day they’ll just exhaust themselves, shut up and go home.
What makes this whole episode even more incomprehensible is the fact that body-positive messaging has become the default language of fashion marketing today. Brands have become cheerleaders for their customers and are quick to spread feel-good messages about personal empowerment, self-acceptance and positive self-image, whether it reflects an authentic corporate value system or just an effort to pacify customers for profit.
Victoria’s Secret‘s silence suggests it is digging in for a kind of trench warfare with its critics. Apparently, the opinions of those who are hostile toward its shallow, “thinspirational” marketing are irrelevant to a company that boasts having “the sexiest fans on Facebook.”
It pursues this course, though, at its own peril.
These days, companies that disregard the growing power of consumer activism made possible by social media risk being shunned, boycotted or worse. Smart, socially responsible companies react swiftly and with conviction to legitimate public concerns; those that try to ride out PR storms will feel an impact on their bottom line.
Last week, for example, Wal-Mart was outed online after its website was shown to be offering “Fat Girl Costumes” for Hallowe’en. Wal-Mart responded almost instantly, removing the offending items and offering a credible apology that probably appeased its critics.
But when your customers complain and you ignore them, it shows a fundamental lack of respect and a profound disconnect with the realities of commerce. Witness, for example, the recent outcry against a New Zealand fashion company whose CEO told critics to “get a life” when they complained about skinny mannequins in shop windows. “Clothes look better on skinny people,” she blithely retorted. How many current and future customers did they lose that day?
In some ways, we shouldn’t be surprised by Victoria’s Secret‘s non-reaction to its latest public relations disaster.
In recent years the company has endured a long, repetitive list of PR messes that show it is out of touch with contemporary values. In almost every instance, it has let controversies drag on (sometimes for weeks or months) before ultimately issuing an unconvincing press statement while refusing to discuss the matter further.
When parents complained in 2013 about the ‘Bright Young Things’ promotion that appeared to target teen girls, Victoria’s Secret let the issue reach crisis proportions before issuing a too-late-to-matter clarification. When women launched a petition asking the company to sell bras for mastectomy survivors, it collected more than 100,000 signatures before Victoria’s Secret responded — and said no. (There’s something both stupid and cruel about that.)
For most other tempests — whether they involve photoshopped ads, sexualized slogans on its underwear, lack of diversity in its models, or complaints about ethical sourcing and fair labour practices — Victoria’s Secret has nothing to say.
What can possibly explain such an ostrich-like approach to customer relations, especially in an age where crisis communications is a college credit and most corporations are quick to extinguish potentially damaging firestorms?
The obvious, and cynical, answer is that Victoria’s Secret only reacts when its stock price does (and it opened about $1 down today).
But there’s something deeper, and more worrisome, here. Although Victoria’s Secret supports many worthy charitable causes, it really doesn’t have a social activist bone in its Sexy Little Body™. And despite its enormous cultural influence in the lives of women around the world, including young girls, when it comes to speaking up for women it is stubbornly mute.
Sadly, that is its default position. Women’s ongoing struggle for equality, advancement, acceptance and acknowledgment is someone else’s battle to fight; they just sell bras.
So let me amend my opening sentence.
It’s not their silence that is so appalling, it’s what it implies — a shocking lack of empathy and a corporate ethos that perpetuates the stale chauvinist maxim that women should be seen and not heard. That they should avoid public debate and not trouble their pretty little heads with important issues of substance that involve the rights and values of the community they live in.
In other words, like Victoria’s Secret itself, they should just shut up and let their boobs do the talking.
[NOTE: We contacted Victoria’s Secret and invited them to comment on this issue. They did not reply.]
The last thing Morgan Curtis expected when she started a lingerie label was that she would end up making pajamas for dogs.
But that’s just one of the comical consequences of ‘Meet Lanie’, a fashion film produced by Curtis to promote her New York luxury brand Morgan Lane.
It stars actress Paris Roberts in the title role, but many viewers were instantly smitten by Fabio — Lanie’s adorable chihuahua (below), who has his own matching PJs and monogrammed sleep mask.
“We’ve gotten a lot of requests for that already,” Curtis told Lingerie Talk. “A lot of people want to match their dog with their pajamas.”
Running over 9 minutes, Meet Lanie is more ambitious than typical fashion videos and shows the title character and an unnamed suitor on a summer beach date in the Hamptons, livened up by a soundtrack of early 1960s pop songs.
The project brings to life the doll-like Lanie cartoon character, which is drawn by Curtis and has figured prominently in all of her brand’s packaging and marketing materials since its launch a year ago.
“I felt people should really know who the doll is, because she’s sometimes misconstrued,” Curtis said.
“Some people think she’s a child but she’s actually a grown woman, not a baby doll. She has regular relationships, she has boyfriends, she wears lingerie, and she has all these things happen to her. She really is the muse behind the brand.”
So what do we learn about Lanie in her first starring role? That she’s a “whirlwind of a character”, a “bit lofty” and an “unassuming seductress”, according to the film’s narrator. And that, regardless of how many boys come calling, her heart belongs to Fabio.
She’s also got a pretty cosy life — a young heartbreaker on the cusp of adulthood, indifferent to her beau’s efforts to impress her and much too playful to pin down for anything resembling serious romance. In other words, a lot like the young women who are Morgan Lane‘s primary market.
‘Meet Lanie’ is the third video production from the young label (which was named after Curtis’s sister), but the first to use a script and professional crew.
It was written and directed by Nate Brown (art director for the Jay Z-Beyonceé HBO special On The Run), shot at Curtis’s family home in Sagaponack and is stylistically inspired by French New Wave auteurs like Godard and Rohmer. ‘Meet Lanie’ debuted a week ago at the one-year anniversary party for Morgan Lane, after a guerrilla marketing campaign of teaser posters that were put up on various Manhattan buildings.
All of this might seem a bit much for a young independent lingerie startup, but it’s just the start of some very big things for the high-flying label.
Already stocked by prestigious retailers like Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, Morgan Lane will get a premium showcase next month when it is featured as an ‘honorary designer’ at Le Bon Marché in Paris — considered one of the world’s great stores.
And Lanie herself is getting some new digs for the occasion. The luxury Rive Gauche fashion emporium, which began stocking Morgan Lane‘s Gold Noir Stripe collection in July, is building an adult-size dollhouse for the display, with lingerie hanging in the windows.
“It’s a great statement about what’s happening in lingerie right now,” Curtis said. “A lot of people are doing lingerie as external wear. And it works especially for the French girl, who can wear it with jeans on the weekend.”
Curtis’s love of illustration is evident in some of the most visually striking pieces in Morgan Lane‘s mix of underwear, luxe sleepwear and double-duty tops and shorts (not to mention the cute sleep masks, which are the brand’s biggest-selling items.)
There’s a lot of shimmering metallic fabrics and glittering embellishments in the fall line, most notably in the Starry Gold range, which includes tiny gold stars on a diamond-pattern tulle base. Likewise, if you look closely at the Noir Ecru range, you’ll find small silk heart shapes embroidered onto a stretch mesh base.
Along with an upcoming holiday collection, Morgan Lane has been commissioned to create hotel gift items and is also expanding into lifestyle products: there’s a new airline travel bag that includes a cashmere blanket and socks, plus a Lanie-branded candle with two scents that will debut next week.
Curtis says her frisky doll character (which originated in a series of large paintings that Curtis created years ago) gives her “so much room to collaborate with other designers and artists.”
That might even include producing a real doll based on the Lanie character, as well as other products that help develop the Lanie narrative.
“Who knows, maybe she’ll get a real boyfriend,” Curtis said.
Curtis, 27, also designs for the swimwear label Solid & Striped and her lingerie line has a privileged boutique space in the new SoHo flagship store for womenswear brand Jill Stuart, who is Curtis’s mother.
Although she shares New York office space with her mother and included her lingerie pieces in the latest Jill Stuart fashion week show, the family connection doesn’t give Morgan Lane any real advantage, Curtis said.
“I pretty much never even tell (retail buyers) that part of it,” she said. “We’re a completely separate entity.”
Curtis began working in her mother’s store at age 15 and spent five years as a designer for the company, but says “now I’ve broken off and am focusing entirely on Morgan Lane.”
“It’s my choice,” she added. “I really want to do it on my own. But I will always use (my mother) for inspiration to keep me going. She started her brand when she was 17 and she has made a huge impact on me.”
More importantly, she added, “she loves Morgan Lane and she wears it every day. She’s my biggest fan.”
Here are some more images from Morgan Lane‘s latest lookbook.
New York will feel a bit colder this fall, now that the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has decamped for London, taking its army of supermodels and celebrity hangers-on with them.
But that didn’t stop Bradelis New York from offering its own mini-version at Lingerie Fashion Week, with a leggy parade of models in a glittering assortment of push-up bras and decorative fashion undies that would make Victoria’s girls blush.
Bradelis, now in its 20th year, used Friday’s runway event to showcase their latest styles, which bring together American expertise in bra construction with European styling and a Japanese fondness for ornamentation and lacy frills.
Here are some the best looks (and air kisses!) from Bradelis‘ standout show at LFW.
All photos by Gustavo Vilar.
The strong V-line neck, the metallic sheen and those sheer teddies were instantly recognizable during the Lola Haze runway show at Lingerie Fashion Week on Saturday. But there was also plenty of evidence that the popular indie label is spreading its wings.
Known for its bold contrasts and sexy glam vibe, the five-year-old Lola Haze introduced a softer side with a collection of achingly pretty perforated ivory kaftans and slips, called Burn (above).
But most of the buzz around designer Laura Mehlinger‘s latest presentation was reserved for her surprising use of a male runway model to showcase one of her most popular metallic looks.
Here’s a look at all the models and styles from Lola Haze at Lingerie Fashion Week.
All photos by Gustavo Villar.