Some women like to wear their diamonds on their fingers, and others like to wear them on their boobs. It’s a matter of personal preference, really.
For those who fall into the latter category, the crème de la crème of bejeweled brassieres is the Victoria’s Secret Fantasy Bra, which is unveiled every year just ahead of the brand’s annual runway extravaganza. No gem or jewel is off limits for the million-dollar sparklers — we’re talking sapphires! Emeralds! Rubies! If it’s a gem that sounds like it could double as a hipster’s baby name, it’s been set in a Fantasy Bra.
At least, this was the case in years prior. The 2018 Fantasy Bra (above) — which was modeled on the runway during Thursday evening’s taping by Elsa Hosk — is worth significantly less than past iterations. With 2,100 Swarovski Created Diamonds (71 carats-worth) and responsibly sourced topaz set in sterling silver, it’s certainly sparkly, and the brand reports that it’s worth a cool $1 million. But that’s nothing compared to when Fantasy Bras peaked in 2000, when Gisele Bündchen modeled the Red Hot Fantasy Bra, which was valued at $15 million.
Now, a million dollars is nothing to scoff at, but some experts don’t even believe the 2018 Dream Angels Bra is worth even that. Diamond expert and gemologist Grant Mobley told Page Six that it’s worth “far below six figures” because the cost of the lab-grown “Created Diamonds” is significantly less than the cost of mined diamonds.
“Currently selling for $800 USD per carat, the reported 71 carats included in the bra would only be worth $56,800 USD,” he said. “When you add the price of the stones to the cost of workmanship and the price of the metal — the total value would still be far below six figures.”
He added that, “only natural diamonds from the earth would put the value of the bra into the millions of dollars, as in past shows.”
L Brands, Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, has struggled in recent years (shares were down 43 percent just this year, according to Business Insider), and the declining of value of the Fantasy Bra seems to echo this point. Even if the bra were worth $1 million, the 2018 version is still the least valuable bra since its inception in 1996.
Jefferies analyst Randal Konik did not mince words in a note to clients on the relevance of the brand and the impact of its once megawatt shows. “VS’ fashion show illustrates how out of touch the brand still is,” he said. “With TV ratings that have been in free fall for years and a consumer that no longer resonates with ‘supermodels’ we question why the company continues to hold the show.”
With this year’s bra, one could argue that Victoria’s Secret was just embracing the fashionable minimalist style that Hosk referred to as a “’90s vibe.” And we’re the first to applaud VS’s ethical sourcing practices, choosing lab-grown over mined diamonds. But the downhill trend — both regarding the company’s prospects as a whole as well as the value of the Fantasy Bra — is hard to deny.
One of the reasons many critics believe the brand is struggling is their “outdated” marketing, with most of the criticism focused specifically on the brand’s lack of diversity — especially on the runway. But the brand’s senior creative, Ed Razek, isn’t listening to the “haters.”
“It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this?” he told Vogue in response to critics of size and gender identity diversity. “Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is.”