Spicing Up The Runway: A Look At The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Through The Years

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The Victoria’s Secret Fashion show started in the mid-’90s as a way for the brand to showcase its merchandise with live models, but over the decades the show has evolved into a high-profile glittering spectacle. From Angel’s wings to Fantasy Bras, you’ll see that there are tons of elements that go into creating one of the most-talked-about fashion events of the year. This isn’t just a simple fashion show—it’s a full-on art show (with a couple scandals here and there). Just wait until you see what Heidi Klum wore on the runway in 2003!

It Started Out As A Way To Sell The Lingerie

It Started Out As A Way To Sell The Lingerie

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The very first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show debuted in 1995 at New York City’s Plaza Hotel. The fashion show was introduced by model Stephanie Seymour and also featured Beverly Peele and Frederique van der Wal. The show was initially put on to showcase Victoria’s Secret merchandise which is why most runway looks for the early shows were very minimal. The lingerie is put into full focus in these shows, with just shoes and perhaps a purse or a light sweater to complement them. Here, model Angelika Kallio’s minimal accessories really showcase the bra and pajama bottoms that she is wearing.

The Simplicity Of Early Shows Put Emphasis On The Merchandise

The Simplicity Of Early Shows Put Emphasis On The Merchandise

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With this look from 1997, worn here by model Rebecca Romijn, you can see that there is still a huge emphasis on the merchandise itself. For the first few years after the show’s conception, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was held at the Plaza Hotel and was not broadcast to the public with the exception of the 1999 and 2000 shows, when the public was invited to peek in on the annual event via webcast. Of course, the Internet during the new millennium wasn’t quite what it is today, so the video quality was deplorable. Still, millions of people tuned in since the event was given tons of publicity leading up to it.

Intricate Stage Design Became An Aspect Of The Show

Intricate Stage Design Became An Aspect Of The Show

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By the fourth show in 1998, Victoria’s Secret shifted away from simplicity and became a little more elaborate with the presentation of their shows. The stage design had become a very important aspect of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and the designs only continued to get more intricate and detailed depending on the theme of that year’s show. While the runway looks here still appear to be focused on the lingerie, one of the models in this picture is displaying another very important aspect of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show: the Angel wings. Wait until you see the biggest wings that have ever graced the Victoria’s Secret runway!

The Angels Get Their First Sets Of Wings

The Angels Get Their First Sets Of Wings

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This is Tyra Banks rocking one of the first sets of Angel wings to ever grace the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway in 1998. The tradition caught on, with the heavy-hitter models working the show being dubbed “Victoria’s Secret Angels.” The first group of models that helped Victoria’s Secret popularize the concept included Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bündchen, Adriana Lima, and Alessandra Ambrosio. These models are considered veterans of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway and have since left the show, with the exception of Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio. These wings are pretty straightforward compared to how far the concept is taken today!

The Heaviest Set Of Wings Weighed 30 Pounds

The Heaviest Set Of Wings Weighed 30 Pounds

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Just to get an idea of how elaborate the Angel wings have become, check out Alessandra Ambrosio’s “Passion Play Fan Wings” from the 2011 show! The 23-karat gold plated wings, which are encrusted with 105,000 Swarovski crystals, weighed up to 30 pounds—making them the heaviest wings in the history of the show! The wings were designed by Sydney-based Manik Merican over the course of seven months, but only had their moment of glory for less than a minute on the runway. But this only goes to show that the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has become more of a spectacle than the brand trying to sell its lingerie.

Heidi Klum Wore 12-Foot Wings And An $ 11 Million-Dollar Bra

Heidi Klum Wore 12-Foot Wings And An $  11 Million-Dollar Bra

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Since we’re on the subject, check out the wings Heidi Klum wore on the Victoria’s Secret runway in 2003! Klum strutted down the runway with a feathery set of more traditional-looking wings that were reportedly up to 12 feet tall! Klum was showcasing the Very Sexy Fantasy Bra, which included a 70-karat diamond centerpiece using the second largest diamond in the world. The bra in question costs a whopping $ 11 million! The pièce de résistance of each Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is the Fantasy Bra, which gets redesigned each year and one lucky model is chosen to wear it down the runway. You’ll never guess how much the most expensive Fantasy Bra is and who got to model it!

The Early-2000s Shows Added Theatrical Elements

The Early-2000s Shows Added Theatrical Elements

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You can see the emphasis producers put into theatrics with this shot of Tyra Banks from the 2002 show. That year was the second year that the show was broadcast on public television. Although millions of viewers tuned in to watch the show, it did not come without controversy. The Federal Communications Commission began receiving complaints about the highly sexualized nature of the show, nearly calling it “soft-core pornography,” while others argued that the show exacerbates hyper-sexualization of women’s bodies. However, the show abides by censorship guidelines and Victoria’s Secret is unfazed. Chief Marketing Officer Edward Razek told The New York Times in 2001, “This is a powerhouse brand for women, so we market to women. Men come for free.”

The Use Of Props Is Another Fun Element Of The Show

The Use Of Props Is Another Fun Element Of The Show

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Another aspect of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is the use of props in place of (or in addition to) Angel wings. This is model Isabeli Fontana sporting a massive pair of dumbbells at the 2010 show. For those that follow the show and the models, it is a known fact that the Victoria’s Secret Angels go through some intense fitness and diet regimens in order to look their best for the show. Fontana told The Independent in 2014, “I have to work out to look the best possible before the show… I don’t have a routine. I like to do new stuff all the time.”

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Is A Full-On Television Event

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Is A Full-On Television Event

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This is Naomi Campbell during the 2002 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show when she sported some wings that are pretty conventional compared to what has been created in recent years, as you will soon see. Still, 2002 was the year that the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show really started to become more of an event, rather than a mere fashion show. That year’s show featured performances from Destiny’s Child and a flamenco dance by Tyra Banks, which you’ve seen on a previous slide. Like Naomi’s ensemble here, the most expensive Fantasy Bra is also a spicy red number, which you will see coming up!

Live Musical Performances Make The Shows More Fun

Live Musical Performances Make The Shows More Fun

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A fashion show with live musical performances? Yes, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has that, too. The musical guests that appear at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show perform alongside the models as they continue to walk down the runway. In recent years, it has become more interactive as the models playfully interact with the artists as they perform. This is a picture from the 2016 show in Paris. Lady Gaga performed her hit “Million Reasons” during the second segment of the show, where the theme was “Mountain Romance.” Mother Monster is holding the hand of Angel Stella Maxwell, whose outfit goes along with the segment’s theme.

Gisele Was Unfazed When PETA Ambushed Her On The Victoria’s Secret Runway

Gisele Was Unfazed When PETA Ambushed Her On The Victoria’s Secret Runway

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With so much activity going on during the show, it’s amazing to see the models maintain their composure (but then again, they are professionals). One perfect example of this takes us back to the 2002 show when Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen walked down the VS runway only to be ambushed by PETA anti-fur activists. Although she isn’t wearing any fur for this runway look, the protestors were responding to Gisele’s then-recent signing with a famed furrier. As the protestors swarmed the runway, chanting with their “Gisele: Fur Scum” posters, Gisele appeared unfazed on continued on with her walk before the protestors were detained.

The Most Expensive Fantasy Bra Is Worth $ 15 Million

The Most Expensive Fantasy Bra Is Worth $  15 Million

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Speaking of Gisele, here she is modeling the most expensive Victoria’s Secret Fantasy Bra. Priced at $ 15 million, the Red Hot Fantasy Bra that was modeled by Gisele for the 2000 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show went down in the Guinness World Records as the most expensive piece of lingerie ever created—and who better to model it than a superstar model like Gisele?! The red satin bra was encrusted with 1,300 precious gemstones, including 300 karats of Thai rubies. The Victoria’s Secret Fantasy Bra is advertised as the “ultimate” holiday gift each year, but only two of the million-dollar brassieres have ever been purchased. If the Fantasy Bra has no buyers, it’s dismantled after a year.

This may have been the most expensive Fantasy Bra, but your jaw will drop when you see the 2016 Fantasy Bra!

The First Fantasy Bra Had A $ 10.6 Million-Dollar Diamond

The First Fantasy Bra Had A $  10.6 Million-Dollar Diamond

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Although the Fantasy Bra is the centerpiece of each Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, it has been advertised with Victoria’s Secret’s holiday line for years. The first time it was showcased on the runway, however, was in 2001. Victoria’s Secret veteran Heidi Klum wore the Heavenly Star Bra, which became the first Fantasy Bra to make its annual fashion show debut. Priced at $ 12.5 million, the Heavenly Star Bra featured 1,200 Sri Lankan pink sapphires and a 90-karat emerald cut diamond—which alone cost a whopping $ 10.6 million! This bra is considerably more demure than what we’ve already seen, but it is from 2001 when the show wasn’t as grandiose as it is today.

There Are No Limits When Planning Every Aspect Of The Show

There Are No Limits When Planning Every Aspect Of The Show

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Here you can really see how elaborate the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has become since its early days in the ’90s. This is from the 2008 show which was held in Miami. From the chandeliers and mirrors that decorate the runway, to Heidi Klum’s Angel wings in the shape of an oversized, pink, glittery Christmas bow, you can tell that producers of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show pulled out all the stops for the 2008 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Heidi Klum has been with Victoria’s Secret for over ten years from 1999 to 2010 and has been featured as an Angel in all of the 11 shows that she has walked.

Victoria’s Secret Once Had Two Fantasy Bras In One Year

Victoria’s Secret Once Had Two Fantasy Bras In One Year

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2014 was a doubly extravagant year for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show since it was the first year that the brand showcased not one, but two Fantasy Bras. The Dream Angels Fantasy Bras were modeled by Victoria’s Secret Angels Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio. Each bra is priced at around $ 2 million and featured a ruby and diamond version alongside a sapphire version. The bras are encrusted with 16,000 gems each as well as an 18-karat jeweled body piece. Lebanese jeweler Pascal Mouawad took almost 1,400 hours to create the bras. If you think these bras are as amazing as it gets, then you’ve yet to see 2016’s Fantasy Bra!

Heidi Klum Once Worked The Runway While Being Serenaded By Seal

Heidi Klum Once Worked The Runway While Being Serenaded By Seal

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If you think you’ve seen it all by now, you are greatly mistaken. Just look at Heidi Klum’s magnificent snowflake wings from the 2008 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show! Although they’re not as big as the iconic angel wings she wore five years earlier, this look certainly wowed the crowd. Klum’s then-husband Seal performed at that year’s show and as an extra special treat, there was even a point during the show when Klum and Seal performed a song together on stage! It must have been an amazing experience that brought the couple closer together back then.

Alessandra Ambrosio Wore Over 5,000 Precious Gemstones Down The Runway

Alessandra Ambrosio Wore Over 5,000 Precious Gemstones Down The Runway

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After 11 years of being a Victoria’s Secret Angel, model Alessandra Ambrosio was finally selected to model the Fantasy Bra for the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Here she wears the Floral Fantasy Bra, with an overwhelmingly beautiful set of orchid “wings,” containing flowers that were individually crafted and hand-painted. The bra itself was even more elaborate, as it featured a cacophony of 5,200 precious gems including amethysts, sapphires, rubies, as well as white, pink and yellow diamonds. The Floral Fantasy Bra was priced at $ 2.5 milliion—cheaper than what we’ve been seeing but still sure to burn a hole in your savings account (or credit debt).

The 2016 Fantasy Bra Is Made Of Over 400-Karats-Worth Of Diamonds

The 2016 Fantasy Bra Is Made Of Over 400-Karats-Worth Of Diamonds

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We told you the 2016 Fantasy Bra was exquisite! This is model Jasmine Tookes, showcasing the $ 3 million Bright Night Fantasy Bra. Not only is the bra made of 450-karats-worth of diamonds, it includes a bodice that uses more than 27,000 Swarovski crystals! The Bright Night Fantasy Bra was custom-made for Tookes to wear it in the show and she even had to have her upper body molded to help create it. Tookes told W Magazine, “Every time [I try on the Fantasy bra] it gets more and more comfortable, almost a little bit too comfortable so that I’m going to run out with it and keep it.”

Not Everyone Was Happy About The 2012 Show

Not Everyone Was Happy About The 2012 Show

Of course, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show wouldn’t be as successful as it is without a little controversy. During the 2012 show, Angel Karlie Kloss appeared on the runway wearing a Native American-inspired headdress alongside a fringed leather bra and panties with high-heeled moccasins. Although Victoria’s Secret claimed the outfit was supposed to represent the harvest season, they were met with immediate backlash from people who thought the outfit was offensive towards Native folks and sexualized Native American women. Victoria’s Secret quickly issued an apology for the fashion faux pas.

The 2013 Show Featured 3-D Printed Wings

The 2013 Show Featured 3-D Printed Wings

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The 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show featured the first-ever 3-D printed wings in the show’s history! Modeled by Lindsay Ellingson for the “Snow Angels” segment, the wings included millions of tiny Swarovski crystals and were designed by architect Bradley Rothenberg, who created the wings based on the fractal nature of snowflakes. Rothenberg used a body scan to create a pattern that would fit perfectly around Ellingson’s body shape, telling Wired, “3-D Printing is a perfect technology to incorporate into fashion as the rapid production and versatility of the process perfectly matches the speed of the season-to-season fashion world.”

Miranda Kerr Was Chosen To Model The 2011 Fantasy Bra

Miranda Kerr Was Chosen To Model The 2011 Fantasy Bra

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For the 2011 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, Aussie Angel Miranda Kerr modeled the Fantasy Treasure Bra, priced at $ 2.5 million. The bra itself was encrusted with 3,400 precious gems, including 142-karats-worth of diamonds in addition to pearls, citrines, and aquamarines. But perhaps what’s even more impressive than that year’s Fantasy Bra was the set of “wings” that Kerr had to wear to complement them! The intricate piece, as you can see, is shaped like an oyster shell, which is appropriate considering the nautical theme of that year’s Fantasy Bra. So what’s the real pearl from this oyster shell? The model or the bra?

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