Heidi Klum Slams Victoria's Secret Models Who Say It Was a Toxic Environment
A 2022 docuseries explores allegations that models were bullied and harassed.
The lingerie brand Victoria's Secret has faced increased scrutiny in recent years for multiple reasons. Customers have called for more size inclusivity, employees have alleged it was a toxic work environment, and executives at the company have been accused of misconduct. The brand has made some changes in the wake of the controversy, but one model who's tied to the brand recently argued that there was nothing wrong in the first place. In a Jan. 31 interview with the podcast Call Her Daddy, Heidi Klum said working with Victoria's Secret was "amazing" and slammed her fellow models who spoke out about the alleged bullying and misconduct after taking part in the company's famous fashion shows.
"This was a really big time in my life," Klum said of being a Victoria's Secret Angel from 1999 to 2010, as reported by Us Weekly. Her work included modeling for the brand in photoshoots and on the runway in the yearly Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. "It was amazing. I loved it," she added.
The conversation on her episode of Call Her Daddy turned to the 2022 Hulu docuseries Victoria's Secret: Angels and Demons, which looks into claims that Victoria's Secret was a toxic and misogynistic work environment, as well as former CEO Les Wexner's ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. As reported by The Guardian, Wexner denied knowing about Epstein's sexual misconduct and said he severed ties with him in 2008. Wexner stepped down as Victoria's Secret CEO in 2020; chief marketing officer Ed Razek, who had been accused of misogyny and harassment and made a transphobic comment in an interview, stepped down in 2019.
Razek told The New York Times in response to an article about the company, "The accusations in this reporting are categorically untrue, misconstrued or taken out of context. I've been fortunate to work with countless, world-class models and gifted professionals and take great pride in the mutual respect we have for each other."
Klum also responded to the accusations in the series. "Looking at the documentary, I saw one person, who I walked with during those years, say they felt really uncomfortable. It's just so strange," the 50-year-old said on Call Her Daddy. "If you felt uncomfortable, why are you doing it? I loved it always. I always wanted to wear the big wings … It was fun."
In 2022, Klum revealed that she was asked to be a part of the docuseries but declined. "I was like, 'If you're looking for a negative story, you're barking up the wrong tree because I had the most wonderful time there,'" she said on the Just for Variety podcast. She said that she watched the first episode of the series but didn't personally know many of the interviewees. "[H]ardly anyone I knew was on that show," she said. "I didn't know who all of those people were."
She continued, "Hearing all these stories pop up to me is mind-blowing when they accuse different people of different things, and I'm like, 'My gosh, did this really happen?' I don't know. So I was always waiting to get more insight, but… it never came. So I never continued watching it."
Following the departures of Wexner and Razek, Victoria's Secret rebranded and canceled its annual fashion show. Last year, the yearly fashion event returned in a new form with the premiere of a film called The World Tour. Klum voiced her support for the rebrand in an interview with The Sunday Project (via Us Weekly).
"About time, is all I can say. About time," she said in 2021. "As a model, you go there, you are happy to have a job. When you are not the company, you do what you are told. But finally, looking at this now, I'm like, about time." Around the same time, the model told Body + Soul, "I see [the brand is] going through a lot of changes right now—about time! I'm very excited that they're understanding there are so many different people out there who want to have beautiful things to wear. I'm happy to see that. I always loved the brand when I was working [there] many moons ago."