If any fashion event has higher security than the Victoria’s Secret show, backstage area, and after-party, we haven’t seen it. Getting access involves government I.D., a security pass, a guest list, a ticket, and a wristband. Then, you’re searched; afterward, you put your purse on the floor so that the sniffer-dogs can investigate it. Getting within a few meters of the Angels in London yesterday was harder than approaching the queen for a selfie.
When the press was finally shown into the backstage area yesterday morning to meet the girls during hair and makeup, it was like walking into a scaled-up Barbie Dreamhouse. So much pink; so much glossy, beach-waved hair; so many immaculate smiles.
Makeup artist Dick Page developed a custom lip color by blending Shiseido colors, a couple of beige cream eye shadows, and “a lot of 8-Hour Cream,” all applied over a Victoria’s Secret pink lip stain. “It’s just something to tone the pink down and create a healthy, rosy-looking lip,” he explained. As for eyes, as usual, it was about blending taupe and a black-brown cream shadow to avoid any hard lines. “It’s all buffed and diffused, you know — sort of like an animation.”
Before the show (which was the second one — the girls walk once at 4 p.m. and again at 8 p.m., to get two versions for the TV edit), executive producer Ed Razek came onstage with a message for the British audience, most of whom had never seen a Victoria’s Secret show before. “It’s perfectly appropriate, even though you’re in black tie, to get off your rich English butts and have fun!” he instructed us. Here are two important facts about the English: (1) we don’t all have rich butts; (2) getting us to whoop and dance along with lingerie-clad supermodels is always going to be an uphill battle.
Anyway, and with that, the show was off. Divided into six parts, it began with Gilded Angels, an all-gold, all-glittering, all-shiny collection that featured what looked like tinsel epaulettes on Behati Prinsloo (festive), a lot of beaded bras, and some fierce cagelike gold knee boots courtesy of Nicholas Kirkwood. (Later, there were shoes designed by Sophia Webster — a nice nod to British design.)
Next came the Exotic Traveler collection. While Ed Sheeran serenaded them with “Thinking Out Loud,” Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio walked out in this year’s two Fantasy Bras, designed by the jeweler Mouawad. The bras used 16,000 rubies, diamonds, and sapphires, strung together belly-dancer-style with chains of 18-karat gold. It was all very “exotic.”
The rest of the collection avoided any specific cultural influences by just borrowing from everyone — because the Victoria’s Secret traveler is an equal-opportunities traveler. There were embroidered bolero jackets; there were stacks of wooden bangles; there were pompoms; there was Kate Grigorieva in an extravagantly feathered jacket (over red lace panties, of course). There were, as you’d expect, tanned butt cheeks and acres of thigh muscle wherever you looked.
Next came Dream Girl, for which Taylor Swift performed “Blank Space” in a pink silk gown trimmed with black lace. Forget what Jessica Hart famously said last year — Swift fits like a glove with the Victoria’s Secret girls. She’s as tall and slim as any of them and of all the evening’s performers, she looked the most comfortable with the models. In fact, the presence of Swift seemed to make it obligatory for the models to ramp up the pointing, the winking, and the girl-power high fives.
The Dream Girl collection was all about furry stilettos, chiffon robes, and, in Lily Aldridge’s case, a teddy cut so high in the crotch that it looked like the show was one misstep away from an NC-17 rating. Then onto the University of Pink, the star of which was Ariana Grande, performing “Bang Bang” with a troupe of the world’s most energetic dancers — leaping, clapping, and fist-pumping like there was no tomorrow.
Your university uniform for the coming year? Just expect extreme crops on everything. If your hoodie fully covers your ribs, and you’re wearing it with anything more than a “Very Sexy Panty” on your lower half, you’re not doing higher education right.
For the Fairytale collection, the models stepped out from sparkly white trees and a giant storybook, doing their best to walk with their trademark upbeat sexiness to Hozier’s funeral-paced “Take Me to Church.” The celebrity highlight of this section was Mel B, in the front row, standing up to give Jourdan Dunn a standing ovation. (Emma Stone would have died.)
Then a quick break for three male dancers to entertain the crowd before Taylor re-emerged in a black lace dress to perform “Style” for the Angel Ball finale. She walked the runway with best-buddy Karlie Kloss (wearing a lace and crystal bodysuit with ample sideboob) before doing a lot more pointing and performative flirting with Joan Smalls. If the previous five rounds of sparkly underwear hadn’t been raunchy enough for you, Angel Ball was there to finish you off with the kind of lingerie worn by sex symbols in the ’80s — we’re talking black lace bustiers, stockings, and garter belts.
Finally, a cascade of silver and black balloons from the ceiling signaled the end of the show. As we filtered out of the space into the after-party, “Blurred Lines” was playing, perhaps in reference to the blurred line between briefs and thongs that Victoria’s Secret had walked so skillfully —we’ll just call it the “deliberate wedgie.” At the party, guests emptied the free bar and tucked into deep-fried potato balls and mini-burgers. Alas, this is exactly why the Angels’ toned glutes are up on the stage, and our big, “rich” butts belong in the audience.