Ahead of tonight’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, it is worth noting that there is an interesting legal aspect at play. The Ohio-based lingerie giant, which is known for its over-the-top annual fashion show, employs a handful of select “Angels.” As distinct from the slew of other models walking in the show or appearing in VS catalogs, the “Angels” – like Alessandra Ambrosio, Behati Prinsloo, and Adriana Lima, among others – have it a bit of a different deal. Namely, they have an “Angel” contract. While Victoria’s Secret does not comment extensively about such contracts, here is what we know …
First, there are a number of contract provisions, including one that outlines the model’s time commitment to the brand. According to former-Angel, Miranda Kerr, "It's three months at bare minimum." Other sources have noted that Angels have to commit 50 days a year or more to VS, which prohibits them from participating in other fashion and fragrance campaigns. There are also commitments to promote the brand, such as appearances at special events, in commercials, and/or in print publications, and travel commitments, particularly in connection with the aforementioned events and photo shoots for the brand’s catalog and e-commerce site. While non-Angel Victoria’s Secret models tend to appear in the same events, catalogs, and even the annual runway show, they are often not contractually obligated to participate in each one in lieu of jobs for other brands. The difference, per Angel Martha Hunt: Victoria's Secret takes priority in a model’s scheduling, meaning less work and travel for other, less steady gigs.
Note that the current list of Angels includes: Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Behati Prinsloo, Candice Swanepoel, Elsa Hosk, Jasmine Tookes, Kate Grigorieva, Lais Ribeiro, Lily Aldridge, Martha Hunt, Jac Jagaciak, Romee Strijd, Sara Sampaio, Stella Maxwell, and Taylor Hill.
Additionally, the Angel contract includes some more cosmetic-focused provisions. For instance, brand new Angels must be at least 18. As for the girls' physiques, the typical high fashion undernourished look is not acceptable. In fact, model Candice Swanepoel was reportedly under fire in the recent past for failing to look "healthy and muscular" enough to maintain her Angel contract. As such, models that are contracted as Angels tend to generally give up the high fashion runway (and its different measurement preferences) – with Swanepoel, who has walked for Givenchy and Marc Jacobs recently, being a bit of an exception. However, she walks for far fewer houses since landing her Angel wings. Taylor Hill, a new Angel, has also been spotted all over the runway during the various fashion weeks, walking for Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Mugler, Roland Mouret, and Chanel, among other houses; this is likely to change as she begins to devote more time to VS.
Non-disclosure: Based on the lack of information available, we are willing to bet that there are some very strict non-disclosure clauses that come along with both "Angel" contracts and VS Fashion Show contracts.
As for the pay: The Angel contract has changed quite a bit over time, at least when it comes to compensation. Over the past couple of years, a number of big-name Angels have “hung up their wings” due to diminishing pay. “The money isn’t what it used to be,” a source told Page Six. “Older contracts like Alessandra Ambrosio were in the millions, now they’re $100,000.” Pay cuts, which are said to be the result of an increase in the number of Angels (think: 15 at the moment, up from roughly 4 to 8 in prior years), have reportedly caused Karlie Kloss and Doutzen Kroes to opt out of renewing their contracts.
While the pay is certainly down, the benefits of an Angel contract are still quite significant, as it entails a level of fame that most models simply do not possess as a result of high fashion runway or even editorial work. Sara Sampaio, the Portugese model who started working with VS in 2013 and became an Angel this year, says that aside from her social media numbers making a huge jump since she was named an Angel, she is regularly recognized on the streets. She says: "It almost turns you into a 'brand' — people know who you are and will associate your name with your face, which gives you a chance to have a voice.” Similarly, Jac Jagaciak, who was known primarily for her high fashion presence before she began working with VS in 2013 and became an Angel this year, says she is a lot more famous than she used to be. She says this is noteworthy as“you can use the fame you’re getting for so many things — not only promoting yourself, but charities or helping friends who are putting projects out."
Maybe more interestingly, the perks of an Angel contract come in the form of guaranteed work. Most models lack any real form of job stability due to the cyclical and trend-based nature of fashion, as well as its penchant for new, young faces. In this way, a VS contract is well worth it. According Jagaciak: "This is for sure like a full-time job; it feels like I was just hired by a company and I’m literally like going to the office. It’s more stable for me, which I love — I finally live here full-time and that’s a big change. I feel very settled."