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- Ed Razek and Les Wexner, two top executives at L Brands, created a “culture of misogyny, bullying, and harassment” at Victoria’s Secret, according to a report from The New York Times.
- Razek asked women to sit on his lap, requested their phone numbers, and asked them to kiss him, per the report.
- In 2018, Razek, who retired in October 2019, reportedly made lewd comments about model Bella Hadid and whether her breasts would be allowed on network TV.
- The company has been embroiled in scandal, and last year canceled its annual fashion show that had aired on network TV for decades.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
L Brands CEO and founder Lex Wexner and former executive Ed Razek created a “culture of misogyny, bullying, and harassment” at Victoria’s Secret – already embroiled in scandals – according to a report Saturday from The New York Times.
Razek, a former executive at L Brands, which owns Victoria’s Secret, was the subject of repeated complaints at the company, according to The Times.
In one instance, Razek made lewd comments to supermodel Bella Hadid, telling her to “forget the panties” during a fitting for the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, three people who witnessed the interaction told The Times.
Razek also said he wondered if network TV would allow Hadid to walk “down the runway with those perfect titties,” two people recalled to The Times. On the same day, Razek touched the crotch of another model, according to three people.
Executives at the company told the newspaper they had reported Razek’s behavior directly to Wexner, the billionaire CEO of L Brands who has been embroiled in a scandal over his relationship to the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Wexner himself was billed – in part – a pioneer of the toxic culture at Victoria’s Secret.
When someone brought up the body positivity movement in a meeting, for example, Wexner replied, “nobody goes to a plastic surgeon and says, ‘make me fat,'” two people told The Times.
There was also retaliation for rebuking Razek and his advances, according to The Times. A model named Andi Muise told the newspaper she was not invited back to walk in the company’s fashion show after she had turned down an invitation to have dinner at his New York home. Muise said she had often responded in a “polite” tone to Razek’s many advances toward her – often made over email – in order to keep her working relationship with Victoria’s Secret.
Muise’s allegations are echoed in similar reports about Razek’s behavior at the company, which includes reports of him asking women for their phone numbers, to sit on his lap, and to kiss him, according to the report.
Crowe Taylor, a public relations employee at L Brands, told the New York Times that Razek had once berated her for getting seconds a lunch buffet the company had provided while dozens of people looked on. Taylor said she reported the instance to human resources, but nothing seemed to be done by the company.
An employee at L Brands presented the human resources department with a document that listed more than a dozen accusations against Razek, which included inappropriate touching of women and making “demeaning” comments. The Times said it obtained a copy of the document.
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Following his retirement from the company, Monica Mitro, a public-relations executive at Victoria’s Secret, complained about Razek’s harassment to a former member of L Brands board of directors and was placed on leave by the company the following day, per the report.
Razek denied all allegations in an email to The Times.
“The accusations in this reporting are categorically untrue, misconstrued or taken out of context,” Razek told The Times. “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.”
Razek’s son, Scott Razek, was transferred to Bath & Body Works (another L Brands company) following his reported mistreatment of a female colleague, per The Times. The woman received an undisclosed settlement from the company, sources told the newspaper.
A representative for Wexner declined to comment on the report, The Times said. A spokesperson for L Brands told The Times that the company had made “significant strides” on its corporate governance.
In November 2019, Victoria’s Secret announced the cancellation of its annual fashion show, which had occurred since 1995. According to a previous Business Insider report, the show had struggled in recent years, down from 9.7 million viewers in 2013 to just 3.3 million in 2018.
Razek stepped down from L Brands in October 2019, and Wexner is reportedly mulling over plans to sell the Victoria’s Secret brand and retire, Business Insider previously reported.
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