Every November the Victoria’s Secret Angels descend in a cloud of hairspray, crystals and pink satin. The fashion show is watched by an audience of millions and streamed on YouTube by thousands more. Everyone tunes in to watch these high-flying models parade their pins down the catwalk. The bright lights and glamour enables viewers to willingly succumb to the gaudy excess. Yet, also works to detract from the more serious issues that exist within this glittering extravaganza.
Despite being an avid hater of Victoria’s Secret, I will admit to being a fascinated onlooker when it comes to the fashion show. This is because I am in not-so-secret awe of the scantily clad creatures that strut around, blowing kisses and emanating physical superiority. On the whole though, I find it pretty nauseating. The purpose of the show is to elevate and adorn the Victoria’s Secret lingerie to the max through a high profile event that exudes elitism. Star performers, celebrity guests and some of the highest paid models in the industry come together to create an alternative reality that glorifies in the aesthetic.
The lingerie itself is showcased through various themes, this year there was British Invasion, Birds of Paradise, Shipwrecked, Pink Network, Parisian Nights and Snow Angels. On the whole, the outfits are as tacky and ridiculous as the names would suggest, accessorised with anything and everything from long silky trains and elaborate jewellery, to skin-tight jumpsuits and knee-high leather boots. And a pair of huge, ornate wings for the models under permanent contract with Victoria’s Secret, known as Angels.
The outfits are as tacky and ridiculous as the names would suggest.
It is one big parade of excess, topped off by the annual pièce de résistance, the Victoria’s Secret fantasy bra. This year saw Candice Swanepoel in a $10 million creation that featured a 52-carat Ruby at its centre. This garish and superfluous statement epitomises the grossly excessive feel of the whole show.
Women all over the world dream of emulating these models who appear so beautiful and confidant. Yet we are watching through VS candy-pink tinted glasses.
Although admittedly, the fancy dress element brings a refreshing sense of fun to the runway, it also accentuates the falsity of the show. Victoria’s Secret push the stereotype of ‘the model’ as the happiest of women due to her ‘perfect’ physique. Women all over the world dream of emulating these models who appear so beautiful and confidant. Yet we watch through VS candy-pink tinted glasses.
Former Victoria’s Secret model Cameron Russell made headlines earlier this year when she gave a talk at the Tedx Conference, answering questions on modelling with ‘an honest twist’. She spoke openly about the misleading answers that models give in order to maintain the happy, glamorous image so key to the industry.
Instead, Russell declared that models are some of the ‘most insecure women probably on the planet’. She reiterates what we know but are brainwashed into forgetting; that thin thighs and shiny hair are not the key to happiness. Russell draws much-needed attention to the construction that goes on behind the scenes; how models are manufactured to look and behave in a certain way in order to sell a product.
The models claim that the show is about female empowerment, yet who is it empowering for?
Since its start, the Victoria’s Secret show has been described as provocative and overtly sexual, with some objectors going as far as to describe it as soft porn. Though perhaps a little extreme, it is important to consider the target audience that VS are aiming at. The decision to enlist teenage heartthrob Justin Beiber to sing at the 2012 show is a sure fire guarantee that millions of young girls will tune in to watch him cavort with these skinny, sexualised models.
What does the show say to these young women watching from home, so many of whom are unhappy with their bodies, about what men find attractive? The models claim that the show is about female empowerment, yet who is it empowering for? Perhaps for the angels who can bask in the glory of their own perfection, but definitely not for us mere mortals at home.
Viewers and fans should remember that it is just a show, a candy-pink, fake-tanned, blow-dried façade.
Victoria’s Secret cleverly markets their products in an attempt to persuade the consumer that if we buy their lingerie we will look something like the beautiful women that model them so expertly. The show is the cherry on top of the VS cake; real life validation that these models are perfect, not only in the airbrushed catalogues, but in real life too. Instead though, viewers and fans should remember that it is just a show. A candy-pink, fake-tanned, blow-dried façade.
Images: blog.iamitalian.com, fashion.telegraph.com, mirror.co.uk, english.pradva.ru