Victoria’s Secret exec reportedly asked models to kiss him, sit on his lap, and more
According to a recent report from The New York Times, L Brands CEO and founder Lex Wexner and former executive Ed Razek created a “culture of misogyny, bullying and harassment” at Victoria’s Secret, which is owned by L Brands.
The Times reports that Razek was the subject of repeated complaints, according to interviews with more than 30 current and former executives, employees, contractors and models, as well as court filings and other documents. For instance, Razek allegedly tried to kiss models, and he asked them to sit on his lap. It’s also reported that Razek “touched one’s crotch” ahead of the 2018 Victoria’s Secret fashion show; and three people witnessed Razek reportedly tell Victoria’s Secret model Bella Hadid to “forget the panties” during a fitting at the same show. “The bigger question, he said, was whether the TV network would let Ms. Hadid walk ‘down the runway with those perfect titties,'” The Times reports.
This follows Hadid saying in an interview in November that she “never felt powerful” modeling lingerie on a runway show until she worked with Rihanna, modeling her Savage X Fenty collection at New York Fashion Week.
“Rihanna’s amazing. For me, that was the first time on a runway that I felt really sexy. Because when I first did Fenty, I was doing other lingerie shows and I never felt powerful on a runway, like, in my underwear,” said Hadid, who previously walked three runway shows for Victoria’s Secret in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
People reports that a rep for Hadid and a spokesperson for Victoria’s Secret did not immediately responds to the publication’s requests for comment.
Executives told The Times that they alerted Wexner of Razek’s behavior, and some women who complained faced retaliation, including model And Muise, who said that Victoria’s Secret stopped hiring her for its fashion shows after she rejected Razek’s advances.
“This abuse was just laughed off and accepted as normal,” Casey Crowe Taylor, a former public relations employee at Victoria’s Secret who said she had witnessed Mr. Razek’s conduct, told The Times. “It was almost like brainwashing. And anyone who tried to do anything about it wasn’t just ignored. They were punished.”
An occasional Victoria’s Secret model, Alyssa Miller, described Razek to The Times as someone who exuded “toxic masculinity,” adding that Razek had an “I am the holder of the power, I can make you or break you” attitude.
Razek denied the allegations, telling The Times in an email that “the accusations in this reporting are categorically untrue, misconstrued or taken out of context. I’ve been fortunate to work with countless, world-class models and gifted professionals and take great pride in the mutual respect we have for each other.”
Thomas Davies, spokesman for Wexner, declined to comment, however.
This report follows the cancellation of Victoria’s Secret’s annual fashion show in November. One month prior, Razek stepped down from L Brands; and Wexner has been embroiled in a scandal over his relationship to the late Jeffrey Epstein.
Problems inside Victoria’s Secret came into focus last year when the deep ties of the company’s chief executive, Leslie Wexner, to Jeffrey Epstein became public. Epstein lured some young women by posing as a recruiter for Victoria’s Secret models. https://t.co/f5OdzLT6rs pic.twitter.com/0j5Cg8edxT— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 1, 2020
The entire report by Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Katherine Rosman, Sapna Maheshwari, and James B. Stewart is excellent and worth the read.