image copyrightGetty Imagesimage caption'Angels" like Gizele Oliveira will replaced by women such as Megan Rapinoe as the face of Victoria's Secret

Football star Megan Rapinoe and actress and producer Priyanka Chopra Jonas are joining Victoria's Secret in what the lingerie giant is calling a "dramatic shift" for the brand.

They are among several new faces who will help promote the brand which is best known for its lingerie-clad models known as Angels.

Victoria's Secret still generates billions of dollars in sales.

However, its hyper-sexualised image has fallen out of fashion in recent years.

Ms Rapinoe and Ms Chopra Jonas will form part of "The VS Collective" a group of women who will work with the company on "collaborations, business partnerships and cause-related initiatives".

It comes as Victoria's Secret prepares to cut ties with its parent company L Brands in a spin-off later this year.

Victoria's Secret was long famous for its annual fashion show where statuesque, supermodel "Angels" would strut the catwalk in little more than lingerie, feathers and gems.

However, a cultural shift around the #metoo movement and body positivity saw rival companies such as Savage X Fenty – the underwear brand founded by singer and make-up mogul Rihanna – grow in popularity. More women were also choosing to buy comfortable, "althleisure" inspired underwear.

L Brands has since cancelled the Victoria's Secret show as viewing numbers tumbled.

'Patriarchal, sexist'

Martin Waters, Victoria's Secret chief executive – the fourth appointed in five years – told The New York Times that "right now" he did not see the Angels as being "culturally relevant".

Ms Rapinoe, an LGBTQIA+ activist, was more blunt in her assessment of the company's past image, describing it as "patriarchal, sexist, viewing not just what it meant to be sexy but what the clothes were trying to accomplish through a male lens and through what men desired".

She added that it was "very much marketed toward younger women", a message which she said was "really harmful."

The Victoria's Secret show was the brainchild of L Brands' former chief marketing officer Ed Razek who resigned from the firm in 2019. The previous year he had come under fire for making a transphobic remark. He also said audiences had no interest in seeing plus-size models.

Valentina Sampaio, an LGBTQIA+ activist who became Victoria's Secret's first openly transgender model two years ago, has also joined the firm's "collective" alongside plus-sized model and "body advocate" Paloma Elsesser.

image copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionValentina Sampaio has joined Victoria's Secret's line up of "icons and change-makers"

Victoria's Secret was bought by billionaire Les Wexner in 1982. Mr Wexner, the former chief executive of L Brands, recently announced that he would not stand for re-election as chairman emeritus.

In 2019, Mr Wexner came under fire for his long friendship with the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. He employed Mr Epstein to manage his finances but cut ties with him in 2007,. Mr Wexner said he was "embarrassed" by his friendship with the dead sex trafficker.

Commenting on why Victoria's Secret was launching the new partnership now, Mr Waters told The New York Times: "I've known that we needed to change this brand for a long time, we just haven't had the control of the company to be able to do it."

Mr Waters joined L Brands in 2008, overseeing its international division, before taking over as Victoria's Secret's new boss in November last year.