Last month, as Victoria’s Secret geared up for its annual fashion show that took place in Paris’s Grand Palais on November 30th, Nude made deliveries to the brand’s flagships on London’s Bond Street and New York’s Fifth Avenue. In both stores, exhibition spaces will bear Nude’s mannequins – an adaptation of the En Pointe range – that will wear the outfits that form ‘Victoria’s Secret: A Retrospective’ – highlights from 21 years of the largest, most watched and certainly most expensive fashion show on earth.
For those that are unfamiliar, the VS show comes around every November, showcasing the brand’s underwear in a spectacular and elaborate display, featuring the world’s most prominent supermodels and entertainers. Past performers to take the stage with the ‘Angels’- as some of the models are known due to the wings that are adorned by the chosen few each year – include the Spice Girls, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Justin Timblerlake and The Weeknd, the latter confirmed for 2016’s show alongside Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars.
So, why all the fuss? While the show may seem to be solely about glittering entertainment, half-naked women and really rather impractical costumes, it’s without doubt one of the world’s most successful brand marketing exercises, both in the logistical costs and the fees that those who stomp the runway command. But it pays off. In 2015, it was reported that the show – which is televised worldwide a few days later – gains more viewers than all of the year’s fashion weeks combined.
Many of the women that walk in the show are household names (Kendall and Gigi, anyone?) and certainly the most in-demand names in modelling. When the Forbes Rich List was published earlier this year, how many of the top ten earning models of the year were current or former VS stars? Ten.
They – like most models – often see the VS show and being given their wings as the pinnacle of any modelling career, only topped by (possibly) the cover of Vogue. Hailing from all corners of the globe, this year’s “supermodel Super Bowl” will see the Hadid sisters take to the sparkling runway, along with VS veterans Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio, Lily Aldridge, Josephine Skriver, Martha Hunt, Sara Sampaio, current face of Topshop Taylor Hill, and Jasmine Tookes who will wear the Fantasy Bra, the bejewelled pièce de résistance of each show that will this year contain 450 carats of jewels and be worth around $3 million. Two of the most famous and seasoned Angels will not travel to Paris; close friends Behati Prinsloo (wife of Maroon 5 frontman, Adam Levine) and Candice Swanepoel gave birth to their first children in September and October respectively.
In 2014, Fortune reported brand generated $836 per sq. ft. at its US stores, more than most luxury labels – and that is despite the sheer size and number of its stores, as well as its relatively low average price point, in comparison to the world’s most recognisable designer brands. A big domestic e-commerce push has not cannibalised store sales, with a consistent year-on-year rise thanks to a raft of new store openings too. No official figure has ever been placed on staging the annual lingerie showcase, but it’s safe to say that – with more than 40 of the world’s most in-demand models, hair and make-up, dramatic costumes and imposing venues – it’s worth it.
Photography credit: Victoria Secret