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It was reported last week that multimillionaire businessman Jeffrey Epstein, a registered sex offender, used his business relationship with Leslie Wexner, CEO of the L Brands, to take advantage of aspiring Victoria’s Secret models.
Sources told the New York Times that Epstein once even posed as a talent scout for Victoria’s Secret, allegedly assaulting model Alicia Arden when inviting her to his hotel room for an audition.
Following the shocking revelations and further allegations around past photographers, a host of models are now petitioning Victoria’s Secret, with the Model Alliance organising an open letter to VS Lingerie Chief Executive John Mehas, asking the brand for a new code of conduct.
This is something that over 100 models have now signed, including Victoria Secret’s Doutzen Kroes.
‘From the headlines about L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner’s close friend and associate, Jeffrey Epstein, to the allegations of sexual misconduct by photographers Timur Emek, David Bellemere and Greg Kadel, it is deeply disturbing that these men appear to have leveraged their working relationships with Victoria’s Secret to lure and abuse vulnerable girls,’ the letter states, asking for a commitment to protecting models from sexual misconduct.
‘We are calling on Victoria’s Secret to take meaningful action to protect its talent and those who aspire to work with the company,’ the letter continues later. ‘Victoria’s Secret has the opportunity to be a leader, to use its power and influence to bring about the changes that are urgently needed in our industry. Every day, fashion brands, publishing companies and agencies set the norms of what’s acceptable and what’s not in fashion.’
It concludes: ‘If Victoria’s Secret were to take a stand against these abuses and commit to meaningful change by joining the Respect Program, this would go a long way in helping our industry chart a new path forward.’
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Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.
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