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Victoria's Secret vs. ''Veronica's Closet''

The lingerie catalog has accused NBC of using its name as the foundation of the new sitcom

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Victoria’s Secret vs. ”Veronica’s Closet”

NBC has been accused of ripping off someone else’s underwear. Victoria’s Secret has its panties in a twist over Veronica’s Closet, the network’s highly anticipated Thursday-night sitcom starring Kirstie Alley (which premieres Sept. 25).

”It’s an obvious use of our name that we never authorized,” says Victoria’s Secret spokeswoman Monica Mitro. ”They’re taking a piece of our brand equity and using it to their advantage.”

The Victorians may have a point. NBC’s Veronica (Alley) owns a lingerie catalog featuring fashions not unlike the ones Tyra Banks, Claudia Schiffer, and Daniela Pestova model for VS. But Veronica staffers deny any connection. ”As soon as people see this show, the [association] will go away,” says Veronica‘s costume designer Debra McGuire, who’ll personally create half of the lingerie and use high-end pieces from other designers. ”Veronica’s designs will be eclectic and sophisticated. She’d relate more to Donna Karan.”

If this sounds like a cut-rate catfight, it isn’t. Unmentionables are big business, having come a long way since Madonna and Jean-Paul Gaultier used underwear as outerwear on 1990’s Blond Ambition tour. Victoria’s Secret takes in $2 billion annually. The new Marilyn Monroe line has reportedly earned its parent company, Warnaco, $25 million. And both Prada and Ralph Lauren just busted out with lace and silk undies for fall. ”Lingerie today has to fit into the designer lifestyle — comfortable but luxurious,” says Karan, who started her line in 1992.

Lingerie from yesteryear, meanwhile, will be the subject of Bend Me, Shape Me, a documentary in development at Miramax, to be directed by fashion photographer Ellen Von Unwerth and narrated by Elle Macpherson.

In short, Veronica’s Closet taps a trend that dwarfs Anna Nicole Smith’s bra size. Says Mitro, ”Gone are the days when Mom told us to wear great panties because we might meet a doctor in the hospital.” At least until crossover night with ER.

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