Victoria's Secret books first openly transgender model - as chief marketing officer resigns

Transgender model Valentina Sampaio has been hired by Victoria's Secret [Photo: Getty]
Transgender model Valentina Sampaio has been hired by Victoria's Secret [Photo: Getty]

Victoria’s Secret is finally getting with the diversity programme having just cast their first ever openly transgender model.

Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio took to Instagram to confirm the news sharing a behind-the-scenes image of her posing in the brand’s Pink sub-line alongside the caption: “Never stop dreaming.”

Valentina (more on her below) has been busy causing a buzz in the modelling world of late, becoming the first transgender model to be on the cover of Vogue Paris in 2017 and going on to front German Vogue and Brazilian Vogue.

Now she’s flying the flag for inclusivity at the cult lingerie label.

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This move is particularly significant for Victoria’s Secret as the brand has come under fire recently for the lack of diversity and inclusivity within their pick of models used.

The hiring comes less than a year after Ed Razek, the brand’s chief marketing officer, made shocking comments ruling out transgender and plus-size models from the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

Today, Razek has stepped down from his role. The former marketing boss’ resignation came via a note from Leslie Wexner, the chair and chief executive of the brand’s parent company, L Brands.

In an interview last year, with American Vogue, Razek claimed the lingerie brand’s annual runway shows are “a fantasy” therefore should not include transgender models.

But following a backlash, the 70-year-old was forced to apologise via the lingerie brand’s Twitter page.

In the post, he wrote: “My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Show came across as insensitive.”

“I apologise. 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.”

“It was never about gender,” he continued. “I respect and admire their journey to embrace who they really are.”

News of Sampaio’s role comes less than a week after rumours started circulating that the 2019 Victoria's Secret show might be cancelled.

Victoria’s Secret model, Shanina Shaik, dropped the bombshell last week to The Daily Telegraph Australia, claiming that the catwalk show is going on a hiatus.

Whether the hiring was a direct response to the backlash to Razek’s comments, swirling rumours of a drop in popularity due to changing attitudes or purely a realisation that wider representation much-needed on the lingerie brand’s catwalk, we’ll likely never though.

But either way a move to increase diversity should always be applauded.

VS aren’t the only fashion brand to up their inclusivity recently. Sports Illustrated Swimwear recently featured a model in a wheelchair as part of their catwalk show.

And the world’s first range of luxury lingerie for transgender women also recently dropped.

Who is Valentina Sampaio?

According to The New York Times, Sampaio grew up in a small fishing village in Brazil with her father who was a fisherman and her mother who was a school teacher.

Though she refused to reveal what her name was before she opted for Valentina, or when she transitioned she has revealed in the past that she “always felt like a girl” and that her friends and family had always accepted her “since they already saw me as a little girl.”

The NY Times also revealed that Sampaio was studying fashion when she was discovered by a makeup artist and later signed by a modelling agency in Sao Paulo.

Since her discovery, the model has gone on to went on to appear on the covers of Elle Mexico, Elle Brasil, Vanity Fair Italia, and L’Officiel Turkiye, among others and worked with major brands such as Philipp Plein, Moschino, and L’Oreal, and now Victoria’s Secret.