Wednesday 19 December 2018

How this Irish model wound up at the centre of the Victoria's Secret-Rihanna controversy

Model Adriana Lima reacts beside other models while presenting a creation during the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York City, New York, U.S., November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Model Adriana Lima reacts beside other models while presenting a creation during the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York City, New York, U.S., November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
(L-R) Maggie Laine, Alexina Graham, Myrthe Bolt, Barbara Palvin, and Leomie Anderson prepare backstage during 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York at Pier 94 on November 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)
Model Kendall Jenner walks the runway during the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Pier 94 on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Model Elsa Hosk presents a creation during the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York City, New York, U.S., November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Louise O'Reilly. Picture: Instagram
Louise O'Reilly. Picture: Instagram
Romee Strijd prepares backstage during the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York at Pier 94 on November 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)
(L-R) Maggie Laine, Zuri Tibby, Josie Canseco, Subah Koj, Georgia Fowler, and Mayowa Nicholas walk the runway during the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Pier 94 on November 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)
Behati Prinsloo walks the runway during the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Pier 94 on November 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)
Taylor Hill, Jasmine Tookes, Elsa Hosk, Adriana Lima, Behati Prinsloo, and Candice Swanepoel walk the runway during the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Pier 94 on November 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)
US model Josie Canseco prepares for the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in hair and make-up backstage on November 8, 2018 at Pier 94 in New York City
Model Candice Swanepoel and President and Chief Marketing Officer of Victoria's Secret Ed Razek attend the 2013 Victoria's Secret Fashion after party at TAO Downtown on November 13, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)
(Diane Bondareff/AP)
Model Bella Hadid walks the runway for the Savage X Fenty Fall/Winter 2018 fashion show during NYFW at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on September 12, 2018 in Brooklyn, NY. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Savage X Fenty)
Model Bella Hadid walks the runway for the Savage X Fenty Fall/Winter 2018 fashion show during NYFW at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on September 12, 2018 in Brooklyn, NY. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Savage X Fenty)
Model Bella Hadid poses backstage for the Savage X Fenty Fall/Winter 2018 fashion show during NYFW at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on September 12, 2018 in Brooklyn, NY. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Savage X Fenty )
Model Gigi Hadid poses backstage for the Savage X Fenty Fall/Winter 2018 fashion show during NYFW at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on September 12, 2018 in Brooklyn, NY. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Savage X Fenty )
BROOKLYN, NY - SEPTEMBER 12: Model Gigi Hadid walks the runway for the Savage X Fenty Fall/Winter 2018 fashion show during NYFW at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on September 12, 2018 in Brooklyn, NY. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Savage X Fenty)
Pregnant model Slick Woods presents a creation by Rihanna during the Savage X Fenty event in New York City, U.S., September 12, 2018
Louise O'Reilly. Picture: Instagram
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show has come and gone another year, but the backlash around marketing boss Ed Razek's comments wages on.

In a lengthy interview with Vogue, Razek said that Victoria's Secret would not be casting any plus-size or transgender models because they are "selling a fantasy", with the implication being that only one type of woman fits that fantasy and she is thin and young. When asked whether they had considered following a more inclusive route this year, especially after the success of Rihanna's Fenty line, which featured women of all shapes, sizes and ages, including Slick Woods, who was in labour at the time she walked the show.

 

"My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive," Razek said in an apology on Monday after the ensuing backlash.

Louise O'Reilly. Picture: Instagram
Louise O'Reilly. Picture: Instagram

"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... But it was never about gender."

As the debate wages on, one name has been consistently reported around the world - Irish model and blogger Louise O'Reilly (Style Me Curvy), whose tweet comparing the brand to Fenty attracted Rihanna's attention and has allowed the conversation to continue even past the 24-hour news cycle.

"I literally have no ideal how that tweet went so viral," she tells Independent.ie Style. "Somebody screengrabbed my tweet, put it on Instagram and tagged Rihanna, so she was aware of the tweet via an Instagram photo and Buzzfeed and the Mail Online screengrabbed that.

"I had a lot more private messages so it all makes sense!"

Model Candice Swanepoel and President and Chief Marketing Officer of Victoria's Secret Ed Razek attend the 2013 Victoria's Secret Fashion after party at TAO Downtown on November 13, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)
Model Candice Swanepoel and President and Chief Marketing Officer of Victoria's Secret Ed Razek attend the 2013 Victoria's Secret Fashion after party at TAO Downtown on November 13, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)

Read more: Caitlin McBride: 'Is the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show still relevant?'

With 84,000 followers on Instagram alone, Louise's presence on social media has been an impactful one for years: she began working as one of Ireland's first plus-size models nine years ago and spotted a gap in the market for a blog for curvy readers; a decision which has sent her around the world representing both herself and Ireland around the world.

She is devoted to encouraging brand diversity with her platform and a passionate advocate for industry-wide change.

"I'm quite sensitive to everybody and under the Style Me Curvy umbrella, I have a lot of transgender people come to me and ask questions. The bottom line is that everyone should be represented and it needs to be authentic," she explained.

"I went to the Victoria's Secret website and it shows they go up to a 40DD and E cup and in their briefs, a size 16. It's an example of another retailer who, while they're open to taking money in size, but not in representation.

"You can’t shame any body type. Some girls are naturally thin and their ribcages do show and that’s part of them and they’re quite conscious of that, but then there are girls who know the’re not meant to be that type with a healthy BMI and there's no argument of their fitness and they're still being called overweight based on Victoria's Secret standards."

Online Editors

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