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The History of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

Updated on January 5, 2015

So, what exactly IS Victoria's Secret?

Victoria's Secret is an multi-billion dollar American company, which specializes in selling lingerie, womenswear, and beauty products. It is America's largest retailer of women's lingerie, and is estimated to be worth over a whopping 13 billion American dollars today. Although Victoria's Secret is currently owned by Les Wexner; the billionaire owner of Limited Brands, it was originally founded by businessman Roy Raymond. The inception of Victoria's Secret came when Raymond, who had been trying to shop for lingerie for his wife, found that he didn't feel comfortable shopping in lingerie stores. This was because the lingerie was dowdy and strictly practical, and shopkeepers openly disapproved of men buying lingerie for their wives. Equipped with the knowledge that other men must feel this way also, Raymond decided to open a lingerie shop that men could feel comfortable to shop for their wives without feeling persecuted. The name 'Victoria's Secret' was chosen as 'Victoria' evoked the respectability of the Victorian era, while 'Secret's' hints at something secret hidden underneath. On the 12th of June 1977, Raymond opened the first Victoria's Secret Store. The lingerie sold from Victoria's Secret was completely different from lingerie being sold by other brands. While other brands focused on practicability, Victoria's Secret lingerie was focused on sensuality, sexiness, fit, and quality. The stores themselves were decorated in a sultry boudoir style. In the next five years, Raymond created a catalog, and had opened 5 more Victoria's Secret stores around the country. Despite this, Raymond and his wife found the brand was near bankruptcy. Raymond then made the difficult choice to completely sell Victoria's Secret to (now billionaire) Les Wexner, for $1 million. Wexner immediately set about making changes to Victoria's Secret, such as changing the brand image- keeping it sexy but making it more female-friendly- and creating new and popular lingerie; such as the Miracle Bra. Sadly, in 1993, after suffering a series of business failures and a divorce, Raymond committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Through the years, Victoria's Secret has continued to grow and expand. The brand now sells beauty products and womenswear alongside lingerie, and in 2002 created the lingerie line PINK that is aimed at teenage girls.

A model walks the runway at the first VS Fashion Show in 1995.
A model walks the runway at the first VS Fashion Show in 1995. | Source

The first Victoria's Secret Fashion Show-1995.

As time went on, Victoria's Secret felt that they needed a new way to raise publicity for Victoria's Secret, while showcasing their products, in a new and exciting way. As a result, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show was born. The first Victoria's Secret Fashion Show took place on the 1st of August 1995, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. In stark contrast to the company's later shows; the first Victoria's Secret Fashion show was a demure and simple affair. The lingerie featured was simple; negligees and bra and short sets, and there was no special-effect lighting. The only accessories the models wore were flowing cardigans, silk robes, and gloves- definitely no angel wings in sight. Speaking of models, the first VS Fashion Show was hosted by famous supermodel Stephanie Seymour, and featured models such as Veronica Webb, Rebecca Romijin walking the runway. Unlike the company's later shows, the first VS Fashion Show was not broadcasted for the American (and eventually international) public to view. The show was estimated to have cost approximately $120,000 to produce and film.


The Show over the Years:

As the years went on, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show became bigger, better, and more of a spectacle than a fashion show. In 1999, the show was finally made available to the public via webcast on The 1999 VS Fashion Show was watched by over 2 million people, and was at the time reported as being the Internet's 'biggest event' since inception. Since so many people logged on to watch the VS Fashion show, it virtually 'broke' the internet. Formerly a simple fashion show intended to display Victoria's Secret products, the show gradually became more about the accessories, lighting, entertainment, and models. The concept of the 'Victoria's Secret Angels' was introduced in 1997, with Helena Christensen, Tyra Banks, and Stephanie Seymour being amongst the first VS Angels. The concept was immensely popular with the public; and along with the VS Angels, came the decorative Angel Wings. These Wings have become a popular and iconic feature within the VS Fashion Shows, with each show containing more bigger, more fabulous, and more Wings than the year before. In 1996 the first Fantasy Bra was modeled by Claudia Schiffer, to the value of 1 million dollars. From this show on wards, VS has contracted a known jewellery designer into creating a fantastically jeweled bra, and has selected one of their contracted Angels to model the prestigious item each year. Live Acts at each VS Fashion Show have certainly contributed to the show's sense of entertainment and hype. Famous musicians, singers, and bands, such as Justin Timberlake, the Spice Girls, and Seal, have all taken to the VS runway.

From left to right: Karolina Kurkova, Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bundchen, and Adriana Lima, in the 2003 VS Fashion Show.
From left to right: Karolina Kurkova, Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bundchen, and Adriana Lima, in the 2003 VS Fashion Show. | Source

The Models:

The models that are selected to walk the VS runway each year, while wearing the brands signature racy lingerie, are regarded as some of the top fashion models in the world. The VS Fashion Show producers typically hire anywhere between 20- 50 models for each fashion show. However it is the Victoria's Secret Angels that are the real stars of the show. The VS Angels are a group of approximately 10 supermodels that are officially contracted to work as the faces of Victoria's Secret. The VS Angel tradition began after a 1997 commercial for the VS lingerie line; Angels, received public and commercial success. The original 5 VS Angels were supermodels Helena Christensen, Tyra Banks, Stephanie Seymour, Daniela Pestova, and Karen Mulder. As the original VS Angels retired, Victoria's Secret contracted other popular VS models to become Angels. Some of Victoria's Secret most well-loved Angels over the years have been Gisele Bundchen, Heidi Klum, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Karolina Kurkova, and Selita Ebanks. Currently, Victoria's Secret has the following supermodels contracted as Angels; Doutzen Kroes, Candice Swanepoel, Behati Prinsloo, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Lindsay Ellingson, Lily Aldridge, and Karlie Kloss. As VS Angels, these supermodels work to promote Victoria's Secret, raise publicity, model the products, and grace the runway. The Angels are considered as prominent figures in popular culture, and in 2007 were the first trademark to receive their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Karolina Kurkova sporting a massive pair of wings in the 2007 VS Fashion Show.
Karolina Kurkova sporting a massive pair of wings in the 2007 VS Fashion Show. | Source
Alessandra Ambrosio wearing the heaviest pair of wings yet, a golden fan encrusted with precious gems in the 2011 VS Fashion Show.
Alessandra Ambrosio wearing the heaviest pair of wings yet, a golden fan encrusted with precious gems in the 2011 VS Fashion Show. | Source

The Wings:

The VS Wings have become a regular, spectacular and iconic tradition at every VS Fashion Show.The Wings first made their debut on the VS runway in 1998, a year after the VS Angels concept had been created, and have featured in every show ever since. As each year passes the Wings become bigger, flashier, and ornamental. The Wings usually reflect one of the current Show's themes; for instance Heidi Klum walked in snowflake Wings for a Christmas-themed segment of the 2007 VS Fashion Show. Once reserved for only the VS Angels to wear, the Wings can now be seen on any of the brands models. These gigantic, heavy, but beautiful Wings contribute largely to the VS Fashion Show's undeniable wow-factor.

The London 2014 VS Fashion Show finale.
The London 2014 VS Fashion Show finale. | Source
Models Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio wear the fantasy bras at the London 2014 VS Fashion Show.
Models Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio wear the fantasy bras at the London 2014 VS Fashion Show. | Source

The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show- 2014.

This year's current VS Fashion Show was held in London for the first time, and aired for audiences worldwide on the 9th of December, courtesy of CBS. The VS Angels; Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Candice Swanepoel, Behati Prinsloo, Doutzen Kroes, Lindsay Ellingson, Lily Aldridge, and Karlie Kloss, all strutted their stuff on the runway. As well as performers Taylor Swift, who performed her songs "Blank Space" and "Style", while Ariana Grande sang a medley of her hits such as "Love me Harder" and "Problem". Irish musician Hozier soulfully performed his hit single "Take me to Church" and Ed Sheeran sang "Thinking out Loud". The 2014 VS Fashion Show featured the stunning themes "Gilded Angels", "Dream Girl", "Exotic Traveler", "University of Pink", "Fairy Tale" and "Angel Ball". Another special feature of the 2014 VS Fashion Show is that it is the first VS Fashion Show to feature 2 VS Fantasy Bra's in one show. The two ornately-decorated Fantasy Bra's, complete with beautiful body-chains, were modeled by veteran Angels; Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio, and were valued at an estimated $2 million each. If you missed the 2014 VS Fashion Show, or just want to watch again, check out the link or video below.

Personal Opinion:

Do you enjoy watching the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show?

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