Dispatches from Planet Victoria’s Secret

The verdict from the front row

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Whatever your view is on models parading down a catwalk in lingerie and giant wings, there’s no doubt about it, the Victoria’s Secret show could teach the fashion world a thing or two.
 
Here, on Planet VS, the models smile! Bodies curve! There are breasts! Bottoms that bounce! Thighs! Muscles! The world’s most highly paid, Instagramogenic models present an archetype that, while no more attainable for us mere mortals than the stick frames of catwalk models, is instantly more desirable, sexier and worthy of promotion. These women are at their physical, gymtastic peak. Their hair is luxuriously long and wavy, their glossy skin plucked to perfection and their 21st century bodies as worthy of worship as their Greek and Roman counterparts, Aphrodite and Venus. In a way, the VS show is the modern equivalent of the amphitheatre with its parade of physical perfection, albeit with a wider audience: the show is broadcast to 192 countries and watched by 500 million viewers.
 
While I marvelled at the glorious bodies of Candice, Adriana and Doutzen and the rest, there is still something ultimately uncomfortable about women parading down the catwalk in bras, pants and suspenders. It’s all a bit old fashioned, for one thing; it’s Miss World without the corny speeches about wanting to save the world.
 
The VS scenes were disappointingly predictable, as stereotypical as they were cheesy, with little if any thought put into how a truly sexy woman might be portrayed today. Our VS heroines were reduced to characters as two-dimensional as a Jackie Collins ‘tall, dark handsome’ hero. Cue ‘Exotic Traveller’ in bejewelled Indian sari-bras and knickers trailing ribbons of pom-poms. ‘Dream Girl’ saw giant fluffy powder puffs as wings and transparent negligees (the word 'negligee' says it all). ‘Fairy Tale’ issued glittering butterfly wings and couture-bling undies. It was all so incredibly… passive. Geared, perhaps, to the many middle-age men in the audience – although I didn’t actually speak to any men to get their reaction, so, to be fair, they may have thought it all as silly as me. Still, they were clapping and whooping it up rather than looking sheepish, as Ed Sheeran did on stage with his melancholic electric guitar. Hozier’s tactic, meanwhile, was to close his eyes and sing, ignoring the Angels’ attempts to air-kiss him entirely. 

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The best stab at something a little more spirited came in the form of a more sporty scene, albeit with sequins and unfortunately titled ‘University of Pink’ – ahhhhh! It starred Ariana Grande, in a micro skirt, bra and knee-high heeled boots, accompanied by a gang of hot-bodied dancers. She strutted, danced and sang her little heart out. Bless.
 
As did Taylor Swift, whose very long and lean frame (more catwalk thin than VS voluptuous) belies some enormous lung power. She stole the show with her voice – thankfully, she had a voice. Swift is a hugely talented role model for our age, even if she was togged out in sheer peach and black lace.
 
At the end of the day, the Victoria’s Secret show is there to promote and sell underwear. VS is the world’s biggest-selling lingerie brand, which means that this blockbuster marketing event is on the money. But if fashion shows promised to champion more curves and smiles, could Victoria’s Secret promise to have a rethink about how to present sexy women in a fearless, modern way? That would be great, thanks.

Gif & Photos: Getty Images

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