All the high-profile trappings are here: skimpy outfits, leggy models in super-high heels, ogling photographers, seamstresses with straight...
NEW YORK — All the high-profile trappings are here: skimpy outfits, leggy models in super-high heels, ogling photographers, seamstresses with straight pins dangling from their mouths.
But the fittings for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, held in preparation for the flashy Los Angeles runway show to be televised Tuesday on CBS, are decidedly low-key. They’re held in a cavernous office space stuffed with padded bras. Open boxes of Girl Scout cookies are scattered around, and young interns sit hunched over sewing machines adding touches of glitz to otherwise utilitarian undergarments.
Security guards keep one eye on the $7 million, 800-carat Hearts on Fire Diamond Fantasy Bra — size 34B, in case you’re in the market — and the other on models testing the looks they will wear in front of millions of TV viewers. They’re mostly checking to see which items stay in place and which ones could arouse the anger of the Federal Communications Commission.
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More than 11 million people watched the show on TV last year, up 71 percent from 2003. Victoria’s Secret skipped 2004 after the Janet Jackson breast-revealing “wardrobe malfunction” at that year’s Super Bowl.
Join us for a three-stop, behind-the-scenes tour of the show that those millions will see.
Karolina Kurkova mockingly strikes cheesecake poses to amuse the rest of the crew while two men fuss with her Victoria’s Secret Angel “wings” to try and make them more comfortable. It’s not easy: They’re about 5 feet wide and are made of dozens of faux snow-covered branches.
“Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show,” 10 p.m. Tuesday on KIRO
They end up stuffing a sock between Kurkova’s back and the base. She wonders aloud if it was a clean sock — and doesn’t get an answer.
Selita Ebanks, 21, is one of the lesser-known Victoria’s Secret Angels — the brand’s top models. The others are Kurkova, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bundchen, Alessandra Ambrosio, Adriana Lima, Izabel Goulart — and, of course, Angel emerita Tyra Banks. Ebanks also is the face of the youth-tilted Pink Collection.
Ebanks compares wearing lingerie on the runway to, of all things, bungee jumping. “You get butterflies and sweaty palms. But when you do it, it’s amazing and empowering. If you can wear a bra and panty on the runway, you overcome all your other insecurities.”
With a face and figure like Ebanks’, it’s hard to imagine what could worry her. But she acknowledges that in the run-up to the show, she kicks up her exercise routine to include a lot more squats. “It’s like I’m trying out for the Jets,” she says. “My trainer has me do this duck squat, where I go down and then try to walk around.”
In her everyday life, Ebanks says she buys matching lingerie sets but rarely ends up wearing them that way. “I’m a comfort girl,” she says. “I like a cotton boy brief better.”
Who makes the cut
Tacked up on one wall are Polaroids of models who’ve already gone through the first round of fittings. Show organizers and stylists use these as pieces in a complicated, constantly moving chess game, figuring out the order in which the models will appear and who will wear what.
For example, originally one model, 5-foot-7 Andi, was going to wear a corset, but the garment was too big and hard for her. However, on more statuesque Rosie, the corset looked right: She’s taller, so she can carry it off.
Generally, lingerie models are curvier than typical runway models. The top catwalkers often are the more shapely ones, including Kurkova and Goulart, but they are certainly not the norm. Many more ready-to-wear models are thin human clothes hangers.
“At castings, we look for more voluptuous women. We want them to look real,” Victoria’s Secret spokeswoman Monica Mitro says. “For us, the runway is one part, but we think about ‘spokeswomen.’ We want models who are not too young, too skinny, but have a fashion edge.”
The rest of the workroom is cluttered. Props hang from wire grids, there are a half-dozen racks of lingerie, and sewing machines line the walls. However, none of this would exist if not for what hangs on the south wall: the inspiration boards that are broken down into themes, ranging from “Femme Fatale” to “Come Fly With Me.”
Each board, about 6 feet long and 3 feet wide, is covered with magazine clips, old print ads, lace, feathers and other tidbits and trinkets that figure into the overall look.
“Come Fly With Me,” featuring miniature versions of what flight attendants wore in the 1960s and 1970s — back when they were still stewardesses — will be a crowd pleaser at the fashion show. This group’s roots are a historical photo of Amelia Earhart, a pinup of the Pacific Southwest Airlines’ flight attendants in candy-colored uniforms, and a picture of Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton dressed as flight attendants from earlier “Simple Life” days.
“Highland Romance” was deemed worthy of two boards, maybe because it hits one of the big seasonal trends: plaids. A photo of Linda Evangelista in plaid from an old fashion magazine is front and center, flanked by pictures of models in menswear, Fred Astaire and Ali McGraw from her “Love Story” days.”
But how will this translate into your underwear drawer? Here’s your answer: The seamless, label-free, single-piece Angels Secret Embrace Invisible Lace bra that anchored the Femme Fatale collection is already in stores.