Each year, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show drops its scantily clad glitter bomb unto society and reminds us all that we’re mostly not six-foot glamazons who devote our lives to pilates and kickboxing. And each year, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show innovates new and exciting ways to trot out stereotypes like floats at a shitty, dumb parade. And this year, the way they did that was utterly hideous.
Wedged between the other obligatory themes—“hot in silver,” “hot in black and white,” “playful but still sexy Pink segment,” “hot in diamonds”—was some kind of brightly clashing hodgepodge meant to represent varying aspects of global cultures pieced together. Does pastiche represent unity? In a video featuring some of the artisans who worked on this segment, called “The Road Ahead,” jewelry designer Arpana Rayamajhi says the “idea is that you’re blending in this and that from all cultures around the world.”
I’m a huge fan of Arpana’s work, and I think with her jewelry she successfully does that—blends cultural inspiration, including some from her own Nepalese background, to make something new that reflects the way cultures intermingle, especially in the time of globalism. Part of why her pieces work is because her respect for these cultures is apparent, both in the way she designs and the beauty of the finished product. It’s unfortunate, then, that the pieces she made for VS got buried by the clothes, which are surely beautifully crafted but compiled in such a way that makes no sense and is largely unflattering and haphazard?
Half a cheongsam chopped into a bolero jacket and cummerbund with Andean pom-poms? Russian embroidery? A woman wearing a freaking Chinese New Year dragon? What is all this? Ming Xi looks profoundly unstoked to be here at this moment.
To be fair, thoughtfulness and depth isn’t necessarily something we’re all relying on Victoria’s Secret for, but it’s not just some sort of dumb attempt at whimsical unity; as Cosmo’s Helin Jung points out, creative director Sophia Neophitou said a particular hand-painted piece of silk—which was painted by artisans who were not her—was “meant to be this naive, homespun, but this is so luxurious.”
The Eurocentric/Western concept that any kind of non-Euro-derived art is “naive” is so cliché that if I roll my eyes any further they will be permanently lodged into my cranium. Additionally, what are those rainbow leg things on Cindy Bruna? How much of this is inspired by some nebulous and wrong-headed notion of indigenous people across the Americas? Why are those giant bows on Daniela Braga’s sleeves so freakin’ huge? This design is dreadful!
So here we’ve got a kimono, Chinoiserie, more pom-poms, Amazonian feathers, and corseting that appears to be inspired by the 1700s. How you gonna do Jasmine Tookes like that? Again, if this terribly conceived pastiche is supposed to represent global cultures in an increasingly connected world, call Elon Musk and book me on the first flight to Saturn.
Is that skirt “Portuguese”? “Mexican”? If meant to be the latter I summarily reject it. Also, because I am petty, please note the eyes and stance of “supermodel” Kendall Jenner in contrast to supermodel Joan Smalls.
To add insult to injury, these photos weren’t actually from “The Road Ahead,” they were from a different part of the show called “Mountain Romance,” because apparently Switzerland gets its own fucking segment! You know, as opposed to all those other “global” cultures. Wink, wink. At least the designs remained absolutely ghastly.
For the Pink segment, Nicola Formachetti pulled together post-Hood by Air/Fenty by Puma streetwear looks that were infinitely better, but still committed a fashion crime or two.
For instance, this was Zuri Tibby’s first time as an Angel and they made her wear a bow the size of a damn horse.
Two words: Assless chaps.
Luma Grothe had to wear a fur pillbox hat on her butt.
Here’s the sparkly shit, which is the real reason we’re here—to look at $3 million bras and think about how Bella Hadid looks like Yolanda just told her she can’t borrow the car tonight.
And how Kendall Jenner wants to take your order and clean your house.
Hello, I’m the ghost of Christmas Future, and I’m here to tell you that you can watch this hot mess December 5 on CBS at 10/9 Central, starring The Weeknd and Bruno Mars and Joanne!