In an interview with Vogue Magazine last week, Victoria’s Secret’s chief marketing officer Ed Razek shocked many in the fashion community with his answer to the reporter’s simple question, “Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show?”
“No. No, I don’t think we should,” Razek said. When asked “Why not?”, he responded, “Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is.”
Razek has since backtracked on his statement, explaining: “My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive. I apologize. To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show. We’ve had transgender models come to castings… And like many others, they didn’t make it… But it was never about gender. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are.”
The apology isn’t enough for many trans models, including veteran model & former Real Housewives of Miami reality star Lauren Foster, who was the first transgender model to be featured in Vogue in 1980 and who Variety Magazine just honored at their “Woman of Empowerment” luncheon. She recently walked the runway for designer Marco Marco. We spoke with Foster from her Miami home.
What did you think when you first read Ed Razek’s interview with Vogue?
It was a bad, very bad, business decision, just one more of many, which is likely why last year’s sales at Victoria’s Secret dropped 30% and their CEO Jan Singer has now resigned. There is no excuse for an international brand to alienate any community. Inclusivity always wins the day. Why they can’t see that we are simply women doing a woman’s job is beyond me. To be honest, I’ve always thought Victoria’s Secret was a very basic brand and their shows made a mockery of the fashion business.
Have you faced discrimination in the fashion industry due to your gender identity?
I have never felt discriminated against but that’s not to say I haven’t lost opportunities because a booker knew my history. I very well may have. The bookers were probably kind enough not to mention it to me.
What can be done to inspire Victoria’s Secret and other brands to include more transgender models in their campaigns?
I would advise them to follow the lead of pioneer designers like Marco Marco and Chromat who have made it their mission to be inclusive of everyone in their shows.
We’re seeing more transgender models working the runways today than ever before. Who are your favorites?
Geena Rocero, Carmen Carrera, Ines Rau… oh my, there are so many beautiful women that if given the chance, will surely slay any runway.
Follow Lauren Foster on Instragram @thelaurenfoster