The co-author of the book “New Erotica for Feminists: Satirical Fantasies of Love, Lust and Equal Pay,” constructs her version of a fashion show.
In November, L Brands chief marketing officer Ed Razek sat with Vogue for a controversial chat a few weeks before the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, seemingly to rebuff the view that the brand is struggling to maintain its cachet amid cultural shifts. He touched on the lingerie juggernaut’s admirable role in promoting larger, more athletic models (circa 2000) before leaving a messy trail of problematic sound bites. Razek’s lowlights included, “We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes. No one had any interest in it, still don’t.” And when discussing why the show doesn’t hire trans models, he said: “Because the show is a fantasy.”
While Razek’s fantasy might involve enormous angel wings, dragon-themed outfits (as in the 2017 show in Shanghai) and diamond bustiers, the notion that “aggressively fit” cisgender glamazons are the only true objects of desire is so last century. Instead, here’s an alternate, all-inclusive runway daydream:
First, models undergo intensive prep—a balanced lunch (not salad; romaine is poison after all), a sheet face-mask treatment and a nap. Some models are visibly pregnant, so the producers let them go ... shopping for shoes that are more comfortable than studded stilettos. Of course, they’ll still be featured on the catwalk in their flats, unless they opt for the yearlong paid maternity leave—more belly means more real estate to bedazzle. Backstage, models choose either Fenty makeup applied by Rihanna or the cosmetic-free option applied by Alicia Keys, queen of the #NoMakeup movement. It consists of light moisturizer and an empowering ballad.
Celebrities in the audience wait in anticipation. Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness and SNL’s Leslie Jones live-tweet their excitement. Oprah doles out meaningful nods. Tom Hanks cheerily distributes massive Target gift cards reminiscent of Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes checks. (Hey, it’s a fantasy, and everyone loves Target and Tom Hanks.) But the VIP section is reserved for single-mother public school teachers and nurses. A few of them breastfeed in the front row, but no one says anything because it’s really none of their business. The lights dim. Showtime!
Out comes a parade of healthy, confident models in a beautiful spectrum of sizes, shapes, colors, genders and generations. Helen Mirren, Tessa Thompson and Janet Mock sashay in dramatic capes that in no way appropriate cultures. Joan Smalls, Ashley Graham and Chrissy Metz show off the same pleather catsuit in three sizes so viewers at home can see how it flatters every shape. A group of middle-aged men display their dad bods to wild applause in recognition of their decision to forgo the gym and share equally in parenting duties. The audience showers all the models with compliments for their fierce walks and praise for their career accomplishments. Ruth Bader Ginsburg closes the show in a lace-collar-and-robe set that sells out instantly.
At the after-party, Ina Garten serves homemade personal pizzas as the crowd dances until nearly 10 p.m., when everyone heads home, slides on sweats and binges The Great British Baking Show—the ultimate fantasy.
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