‘Welcome to the sexiest show on earth,’ the announcer intoned, marking the opening of the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
Sexy? Sure. With 40 of the world’s most recognisable models—Miranda Kerr, Doutzen Kroes, Alessandra Ambrosio, Adriana Lima and Candice Swanepoel included—swanning about in their scanties, it couldn’t help but be that.
But the show is also noteworthy for sheer entertainment value. It brings together every manner of marvel, from acrobats to star performers like Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars. There are outlandish, gravity defying costumes onstage and bold-faced names (Alexa Chung, Poppy Delevingne, Alexander Wang) on the front row.
In other words, the show has everything a modern media consumer could desire, served up on a Manhattan night when snow flurries only add to the magic.
The lingerie circus in six acts began with a bigtop-themed scene. It opened with Lima sweeping down the catwalk in ringmaster tails and a top hat. Soon after, Karlie Kloss stepped out in Beetlejuice-esque striped latex thigh-highs and rotating target ‘wings’.
Wings are big for Victoria’s Secret—sometimes, they’re huge. The most dramatic set of the night would have to be the white-feathered Phoenix Deco Wings that Lindsay Ellingson wore to open the Silver Screen section. Alessandra Ambrosio’s oversized orchid wings, worn with the diamond-covered Fantasy Bra worth $2.5m, could also be contenders.
The only thing to distract from the plumage on display was the cast of performers. Rihanna, singing ‘Diamonds’ and wearing pearls during the French courtesan-themed Dangerous Liaisons scene, dominated the runway to the extent that she should probably be invited back next year, as an Angel. When Bieber took the stage, models couldn’t help but dance. Cara Delevingne, wearing a little pink candy-striped roller-girl dress, even sang along. (What would Harry Styles say?)
The show is good, over-the-top fun. It’s also a tremendous marketing platform for the lingerie giant. ‘This is the Super Bowl of runway shows,’ Kloss told us backstage earlier.
When the show airs in the US on 4 December, its audience will be a week and a half past Thanksgiving, a national holiday centred on a family feast. Seeing Erin Heatherton, Jourdan Dunn and Hilary Rhoda strut their stuff may lead some of the women (and men) watching from home to regret that last slice of pumpkin pie. Will it also inspire a broad swathe of the audience to head to the shopping mall to buy new underwear? We’d bet our Bieber tickets that it will.
Click through the gallery above to see more images from the VS Fashion Show
Lindsay Ellingson modelling in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
Miranda Kerr in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
Lily Donaldson in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show