'I Felt Like I Was in Hell': An Exposé of Victoria's Secret

The New York Times interviews 50 company insiders about a 'toxic' culture
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2020 4:00 PM CST
'I Felt Like I Was in Hell': A Look Behind Victoria's Secret
Swedish model Kelly Gale presents a creation during the Victoria's Secret fashion show at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Victoria's Secret has "Angels," but there was a devil too—and his name was Ed Razek. That's according to a New York Times article based on interviews with over 50 company insiders, who describe an established culture of harassment, bullying, and misogyny at the lingerie company. Razek, a former top exec at L Brands, the parent company of Victoria's Secret, is accused of kissing models, touching them intimately, asking them to perch on his lap, and berating a PR worker about her weight until she ran to the bathroom and cried, among other things. "This abuse was just laughed off and accepted as normal. It was almost like brainwashing," says the PR worker, Casey Crowe Taylor. "And anyone who tried to do anything about it wasn't just ignored. They were punished."

The Times also looks at L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner and his close relationship with sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in prison last August. Epstein reportedly lied to women that he worked for Victoria's Secret and lured them to auditions, only to assault them. "It seemed like a casting call for prostitution," says an accuser. "I felt like I was in hell." Others talk of a Victoria's Secret photographer who persuaded models to pose nude, unpaid, for a book he now sells for up to $3,600 (his lawyer says the models and their agents requested this). Meanwhile Victoria's Secret is losing cultural caché, canceled its annual show, and might be up for sale. An L Brands rep—who denies nothing in the Times story—says the company is "intensely focused" on change and has "made significant strides." Read the article here. (More Victoria's Secret stories.)

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