History of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

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by Alexa Carlson, Lifestyle Writer

Complex stage sets, live musical performances, lace garments dripping with jewels, and handcrafted angel wings all showcased on a runway of glitter: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is the “Super Bowl of Fashion.” Today, Victoria’s Secret “Angels” have reached celebrity status. With hundreds of hours invested into each piece, the lingerie and wings transform into works of art. The show has become a well-known part of American culture; but where did the spectacular event even begin?


Victoria’s Secret decided to take its brand to a new level by hosting a fashion show at the Plaza Hotel in New York. Guests sat along a traditional runway with no sparkles, special effects, or musical acts as models showcased the newest collection of fluffy robes with silk slips and some modest but beautiful lingerie.


The show was held in February, in hopes to promote Valentine’s Day sales. This was also the year of the first annual fantasy bra, the Million Dollar Miracle Bra, encrusted in diamonds and valued at exactly $1,000,000. In 1998, Angel wings made their debut on the runway, as well as a confetti finale.

1996 Million Dollar Miracle Bra
This show could be viewed via webcast. It received 1.2 million hits, completely crashing the site. The show made its first steps towards the spectacle it is today by incorporating acrobats dressed as angels flying above the runway.

The Angels jet set to the Cannes Film Festival. At the festival, Victoria’s Secret raised $3.5 million for Cinema Against AIDs. The Brazilian beauties, and now world famous Angels, Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio made their first walks.



The show moved back to New York and was telecast on ABC. The show aired in November, marketing for the holiday season. The format of the show changed to adapt to its new spot on television. A male host acted as a backstage tour guide and introduced the first ever live musical acts. The first half of the broadcast was a “meet the models” segment, the youngest being 17 years old. Instead of full coverage bras, high wasted bikini underwear and robes, the models walked in g-strings and even a see through bra. The New York Times ran an article horrified by young models and barely there garments.

2001 Karolina Kurkova 17yr old
The telecast moved to CBS. Phil Collins performed “Can’t stop loving you,” a heartfelt song aimed at the still more mature audience (quite different than Justin Bieber’s performance last year).




Heidi Klum hosted the show. Big, glamorous “VS curls” were introduced as well as a glitter covered runway. 2004 was cancelled due to the Super Bowl XXXVIII scandal of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” and the question of indecency on TV. Instead, Heidi, Tyra, Alessandra, Adriana, and Gisele made an Angels Across America Tour.

2003 Glitter runway


The show was back for its 10 year anniversary as well as Tyra Banks’ final walk. The show fully bloomed with a huge stage setting, larger than life wings and even a light up bra. Ricky Martin performed “Drop it on Me.” The very suggestive lyrics and dancers showed the transition from a more mature crowd to a much younger set. However, in the wake of 2004’s cancellation, the lingerie became more modest, no longer including g-strings or see-through material.

2005 Tyras final walk

The show moved to LA. A pregnant Heidi still hosted but didn’t walk the runway. Rosie Huntington Whitely and Miranda Kerr joined as Angels. Both walked in the first ever PINK section of the show.

2006 first PINK section

This year marked Victoria’s Secret’s 25th anniversary. Adriana Lima performed her first ever heart outline, which soon became her signature move. The other models adopted this energy as well, making winking and air-kisses a trademark of the show.



The show moved to Miami at the Fontainebleau Hotel where Candice Swanepoel joined the Angels. By this point, the lingerie became comparable to the intricacy and luxury of couture. In 2009, the show moved back to New York and was hosted by Heidi for the last time.

2008 couture look2011
The camera crew added to the complexity of the show by using slow motion cameras at the end of the runway to capture the movement of the beautiful wings and the detail from head to toe of each Angel.





In the section called “Calendar Girls”, Karlie Kloss represented November with sexy Native American ensemble. After a complaint about cultural insensitivity, VS immediately removed the outfit and Kloss publicly apologized.

2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show - Runway
This year’s show will air on CBS on December 10th. Candice Swanepoel is modeling this year’s fantasy bra, the Royal Fantasy Bra, which is valued at $10,000,000. Check out my review of the show on Moda, December 12th.

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