This year, the Victoria's Secret fashion show, which is set to air on November 28 on CBS, had some show-stopping moments. Balmain was the chosen designer and debuted his Victoria's Secret line, making this the first ever show where some models strutted down the runway in full-length jackets. Veteran model Alessandra Ambrosio announced that this would be her very last show with Victoria's Secret and would be retiring her wings. But the the best thing about this year's show (we might be a little biased) was that this was the absolute blackest show in the history of the show's 20-year run.
Meet the 17 melanated models that stomped the runway today in Shanghai:
Lais Ribeiro is this year's bearer of the 600 carat, $2 million dollar fantasy bra. The 27-year old Brazilian-born model is only the 4th woman of color to have such an honor.
Herieth Paul is the 21-year old daughter of a diplomat and hails from Canada by way of Tanzania. The African beauty made her debut with Victoria's Secret in 2016.
Leila Nda is a 26-year-old Burundian beauty that also happens to speak six languages. This is her second time walking for Victoria's Secret.
23-year old Cindy Bruna was the first model of color to be the face of Prada and, in 2013, she made her debut walk for Victoria's Secret.
Maria Borges is the 25-year-old Angolan best known for breaking fashion barriers. She was the first ever black woman to walk for Victoria's Secret in 2013 with natural hair.
Alanna Arrington graced the VS runaway for the second time this year. At only 19 years old, this Iowa native is one of the youngest to walk in this year's show.
Lameka Fox made her second walk this year with Victoria's Secret. The 19-year-old grew up in Maryland training horses with her father, who is a Standardbred horse racer.
Leomie Anderson is one of the more seasoned models this year, as this is her third year stomping the runway. She hails from London, England.
Zuri Tibby is a 22-year-old Florida native that started her career modeling for TeenVogue. This is her second time walking for VS.
10. Jasmine Tookes
Jasmine Tookes is a 26-year-old California girl that is the daughter of celebrity stylist Carey Robinson. She draws her model inspiration from Tyra Banks.
11. Grace Bol
Grace Bol made her debut stomp today and served up a beautiful bald head while she was at it. She was discovered at a mall in her hometown of Kansas City.
12. Alecia Morais
Alecia Morais made her VS show debut this year. The 22-year old hails from Cape Verde.
13. Jourdana Elizabeth
Jourdana Elizabeth is a Houston, TX native who walked her first Victoria's Secret show in 2016.
14. Aiden Curtiss
Aiden Curtiss is multi-talented. Not only did the 19-year-old London native make her debut walk this year with Victoria's Secret, but she's also a skilled DJ and music producer.
15. Amilna Estevao
Amilna Estevao is 18 years old and hails from Nigeria. She currently lives in New York City and hit the VS runway for the first time this year.
16. Samile Barmannelli
Samile Barmannelli made her debut this year with Victoria's Secret. The 19-year-old Salvador native walked her first career show this year in Paris.
Dilone is the show's resident Dominican beauty. Originally from Long Island, NY, Dilone just goes by her last name (her first name is Mary) and made her VS runway debut in 2016.
Ashley Simpo is a writer, mother and advocate for self-care and healthy relationships. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @ashleysimpo. Check out her work and her musings on ashleysimpocreative.com.
Unapologetically, Chlöe: The R&B Star On Finding Love, Self-Acceptance & Boldly Using Her Voice
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
The Love Compatibility Between A Taurus & Scorpio
A Taurus and a Scorpio are meant for each other. These are two people who find a lot of support, companionship, and loyalty within a relationship together, and they have a lot in common when it comes to love. Taurus and Scorpio are like two peas in a pod. They communicate effectively with one another and value each other’s perspectives without pushing too hard. This is a match that is one of the best for both of these signs.
Diving further into the compatibility between these two, Taurus and Scorpio are sister signs, meaning they are opposite on the Zodiac Wheel. This type of synergy between signs is either a recipe for disaster or success. Being with someone opposite to yourself is good when it comes to two becoming one and feeling a sense of wholeness within a relationship. However, some people find that differences are too wide within this type of relationship, and the energy is too chaotic for them. This is the dilemma the Taurus and Scorpio in a romantic relationship brings, and some are short flings, while others are end-game.
What attracts a Taurus and a Scorpio to each other?
Taurus and Scorpio come together like two missing pieces of the puzzle. They complement each other well and have a special type of relationship. Taurus finds Scorpio’s mysterious nature intriguing, and Scorpio feels safe in the presence of Taurus. The Scorpio is often the initiator in this type of connection, and the Taurus loves to be wooed. Taurus is very compassionate, and this is the type of energy Scorpio looks for in a partner. Scorpio is very dedicated, and this is what Taurus values in all of their relationships. They both want someone who is all in, and they find that in one another.
What is the relationship like between a Taurus and a Scorpio?
The relationship between a Taurus and a Scorpio is unwavering loyalty, friendship, and love. Once they commit to each other, these are the type of people to stay together through it all. These are people who grow together and who form a strong bond together. They are very supportive of one another, and this type of support is what is the basis of a relationship between a Taurus and a Scorpio.
They are both fixed signs, and when it comes to love and fixed signs, they don’t give up on their relationships easily and are fiercely loyal to their partners. The two together have the potential to build a beautiful life together, with Taurus providing stability, and Scorpio, passion. These two are the type of people who can spend a lot of time together without getting annoyed or tired of one another.
What is the sex like between a Taurus and a Scorpio?
The sexual chemistry between a Taurus and a Scorpio man is one of the best for both of them. Both are aligned with sex in Astrology as Taurus is ruled by Venus, and Scorpio, Mars, two planets that have to do with sensuality, romance, love, passion, and sex. This is one of the best matches in Astrology when it comes to sexual compatibility, and these two as a couple should have no problem in this department.
Being that Taurus is ruled by feminine Venus and Scorpio, masculine Mars, these two are like the divine feminine and masculine coming together and creating magic. The sexual aspect of any relationship is very important to them both, so having a partner who feels the same way about these things and is on the same level as them is beneficial for them both and helps them feel safe to connect. Physical affection is this couple’s love language.
What makes a relationship between a Taurus and a Scorpio work?
What makes the relationship between the Taurus and Scorpio work is their underlying respect and understanding of one another. These two want similar things in a relationship, and they are both people who love hard. The connection between these two can go through some ups and downs, but their love and admiration for each other rarely go dry. This is a couple you are more likely to see together rather than apart, and you tend to see more Taurus/Scorpio duos than almost any other duo in Astrology. These are two people who complement each other well and have all the tools to make things work.
What may cause a Taurus and a Scorpio to break up?
Issues may arise with this partnership when it comes to each other's daily energy and motivations. Scorpio is an intense water sign and earth sign Taurus doesn't like to be rushed or controlled in any way. These two can have a hard time finding the balance between each other and must understand that what may be good for one of them may not be good for the other. Taurus is an earth sign and is all about logic. Scorpio is a water sign and is all about emotion. It can be hard to get on the same page if they aren't both willing. Also, when the two of these signs are upset about something, things can get intense.
These aren't two people that are quick to compromise and find a middle ground, which is sometimes needed in a relationship, and their arguments can last longer than most. Owning their part in any disagreements or arguments is necessary and will help keep them thinking objectively and not in attack mode with each other. Co-dependency may also be a challenge in a relationship between a Taurus and Scorpio, as they both tend to put their all into a relationship and lose a sense of self in the process.
Taurus and Scorpios compatibility is one for the books. This is one of the best duos in Astrology, and the relationship between the two is dedicated, passionate, and committed love. These aren’t the type of people to give up on love or their person easily, and this sense of commitment to one another is inspiring. They are willing to work through things together, and if they are both in a healthy space in life, this could be a relationship that is forever.
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Featured image by LWA/Dann Tardif/Getty Images