Savage X Fenty fashion show is empowering


In 2018, Victoria’s Secret, a popular world-wide lingerie store for women, had hit a low. 

The company is known for annually putting on what is known as “the world’s biggest fashion show”: An hour long viewing where only the most elite models are wearing an array of next year’s designs while walking down the aisle to the (current) hottest artists performing. 

The company’s decline started after an interview with the company’s chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, saying widely insensitive remarks when asked about diversifying the selection of models—more specifically adding plus-sized and transgender models

In which Razek said “It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this [add plus-sized and trans models]? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is.”

As a result, the show’s 2018  primetime debut received an all time low viewing of 3.3 million (five-million views less than the previous year). And in January of 2019, it was also announced the show would be cancelled from heavy-viewer decline.


It wasn’t until later that year on Sept. 10, the singer-songwriter Rihanna, really gave the multi-billion dollar company a run for its money. 

Rihanna’s self-made company, Savage x Fenty, which was founded in 2017, was originally designed as a competitor to Victoria’s Secret. Selling affordable lingerie that caters to women of all sizes. 


In September, it was announced that Savage X Fenty would have its second fashion show during New York Fashion Week, and that the show’s recording would be available for streaming. The show’s new intale would be meant to mock its biggest competitor and promised to include an even more diverse spectrum of models. 


The highly annticipated show (now available for viewing on Amazon Prime) was packed with women of all different races, ethnicities, sizes, ages, disabilities and even a few transgender models. Even replacing the stereotypical ideal of a model (who’d just walk down a runway) with choreographed dancers on elevated platforms. 


Unlike any lingerie show or ad, Savage X Fenty is shown through the female lens. It wasn’t about following the traditional routes by catering to what men want; but instead, it was about women defining and taking control of their own confidence and beauty—on their own terms.  

“Every woman deserves to feel sexy. We are sexy, we are multi-faceted and I want women to embrace that to the fullest,” Rihanna said about diversity in the trailer for the show.

This year’s spectacular runway show was a continuation of these notions of empowerment and inclusivity underlying in the brand. The full collection of items worn were also available to the public right after the show’s premiere—rather than having to wait until months after like other competitors.  


In between the model’s segments there would be performances by Migos, Big Sean, ASAP Ferg, DJ Khaled, Halsey and more. As the sets would change, there would also be multiple celebrity modeling appearances. As music continued in the back, stars like: Niomi, 21 Savage, Laverne Cox, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid and Cara Delevigne would model Savage X Fenty products while looking like bejeweled goddesses. 


In hindsight, the Savage X Fenty Show is everything the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show wishes it could be — or, more truthfully, everything it should’ve been. 


It could not be a coincidence either that Halsey  performed at the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, only to denounce it on the night it aired in response to Razek’s controversial comments. To later then perform in the Savage X Fenty show; where she also seemed much more at home on Rihanna’s set than she ever had surrounded by “impossibly-gorgeous” Victoria’s Secret Angels.

Like the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, the Savage X Fenty Show had no shortage of star power, however here, the performances felt integrated into the runway rather than just something awkwardly happening in the middle of some models walking with 50lb wings on their backs. It seemed like something the audience could not just admire, but be inspired by as well. 

Ultimately, calling the show a “runway” would be doing Rihanna’s work a disservice; it was a concert, live music video, multi-disciplinary performance and catwalk all rolled into one. And while inclusivity tied through it all. It made almost every viewer want to see more.

All in all, it’s been a rough year for Victoria’s Secret, who won’t even put on its annual blockbuster show this year, but really, after watching the Savage X Fenty Show, they might not want to. This one is going to be very, very hard to top.