Victoria’s Secret has reportedly hired its first transgender model, Valentina Sampaio.
The Brazilian model and actress took to her Instagram on Aug. 3 to share a behind-the-scenes shot of her photo shoot for an upcoming Victoria’s Secret Pink campaign. While the L Brands-owned company has not responded to requests for comment on Sampaio’s casting, the model’s agent, Erio Zanon, confirmed the news in an interview with CNN on Monday.
The news of Victoria’s Secret’s first transgender model has drawn an immense reaction on social media and additional attention to the ailing brand, which has come under fire in the past year for comments made by Ed Razek, the recently resigned chief marketing officer of parent company L Brands, on transgender and plus-size women. L Brands’ chief executive officer Les Wexner was also in the news this summer in relation to his ties with accused pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein. Another Victoria’s Secret headline made waves in August, as the Model Alliance penned an open letter to the company, calling on the brand to protect its models from this sexual misconduct.
From her work with Vogue to the social media reaction to the Victoria’s Secret news, here’s everything you need to know about Sampaio.
Who is Valentina Sampaio?
Sampaio is a 22-year-old transgender model from Brazil who began her career walking in São Paulo Fashion Week. She was subsequently cast in the ad campaign for the collaboration between L’Oréal Paris and Balmain in 2017. She also appeared on the cover of Vogue Paris for the March 2017 issue, marking the first time a transgender model appeared on the cover of any Vogue edition. She has since appeared on other Vogue covers, including the Brazilian and German editions, and on the covers of Elle Mexico and Brazil and in the pages of Vanity Fair Italy and Marie Claire Brazil. Sampaio has also worked with brands such as Philipp Plein, Moschino and Pollini, among others.
What does Sampaio’s campaign mean for Victoria’s Secret?
Victoria’s Secret has been embroiled in a number of controversies over the last few months. Prior to the brand’s annual televised fashion show last year, Razek made controversial comments during an interview with Vogue, stating he believes the show shouldn’t include transgender and plus-size models. Earlier this year, it was also reported that the annual show is possibly being canceled, due to dwindling viewership. Late on Monday, it was announced that Razek would be resigning from his role.
For a brand that has routinely come under fire for the lack of diversity and inclusivity among its models, Sampaio’s casting could represent a wind of change at the nation’s most famous lingerie retailer.
The brand is still facing a number of scandals including the ties Wexner has with Epstein, a disgraced billionaire and convicted sex offender. Since sex trafficking charges against Epstein were announced last month, Wexner has issued a statement distancing himself from his former business associate.
Victoria’s Secret has also been accused of leaving models vulnerable to sexual harassment, including recent allegations against photographers Timur Emek, David Bellemere and Greg Kadel, who have reportedly acted inappropriately with female models. On Tuesday, the Model Alliance penned an open letter to Victoria’s Secret, calling on the brand to protect its models from this sexual misconduct and to join the Respect Program, an anti-sexual harassment program where companies require all employees to follow a code of conduct that protects models from mistreatment.
What will Sampaio’s campaign look like?
Sampaio shared an image for her upcoming campaign for the Victoria’s Secret x For Love and Lemons campaign on Nov. 18.
L Brands and Victoria’s Secret haven’t responded to multiple requests from WWD for comment on Sampaio’s campaign.
What has the social media reaction been to Sampaio’s casting?
Many celebrities have shown their support for Sampaio and Victoria’s Secret over the milestone, including actress and activist Laverne Cox, who commented on Sampaio’s Instagram post, “Wow finally!” Other Victoria’s Secret Angels have also praised Sampaio on her post, including models Elsa Hosk, Lily Aldridge and Gizele Oliveira.
Others have taken to social media to share their delight over the news.
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