Before Victoria’s Secret, choices were granny panties at your local department store and the verging-on-lady-of-the-night look from Frederick’s of Hollywood. That’s exactly why Roy Raymond founded the store in Northern California in 1977. It grew to be the largest American retailer of lingerie and moved into apparel, beauty products and something called the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. This year, the show will air on CBS on Tuesday, December 10th, at 10 PM ET/PT.
A brilliant marketing tool, the show essentially is like any other runway show except the models are in flashy lingerie instead of couture. The notion of a lingerie fashion show began brewing in the early 1990s, when the company began using well-known, or “super models,” in ads and catalogs.
The first show, in 1995, was helmed by brunette beauty Stephanie Seymour (girlfriend of then-hot rock star Axl Rose) and was not televised but took place at the tony Plaza Hotel in New York City. The early events served as pre Valentine’s Day advertising of the brand to men. By 1999, Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was an Internet web cast and in another inspired marketing move, the company announced a countdown to the web cast to Super Bowl XXXIII viewers, resulting in a enormous two million sets of eyeballs on Tyra Banks, Giselle Bundchen, Kristy Hume, Jamie King, Heidi Klum and Adriana Lima strutting their substantial stuff.
When the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show made it to network television in 2001, celebrated musical performers were added to add more “show” to the parade of sparkly bras. Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli starred. After the initial televised show on ABC, the extravaganza has been holed up on CBS, except in 2004, that year, a handful of the models did something called the “Angels Across America Tour” and visited New York City, Miami, Las Vegas, and LA promoting the brand.
In true beauty pageant form, one “Angel” is chosen to wear the “fantasy bra” that is crafted by a jewelry designer and typically is valued at between $1 and $10 million. Giselle Bundchen strutted her way into Guinness World Records in 2000 by wearing the Red Hot Fantasy Bra with a price tag of $15 million – the most expensive piece of lingerie, ever.
Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has attracted top-notch musicians over the years from heartthrobs Justin Timberlake and Maroon 5 to Ms. Klum’s ex, Seal, and Bruno Mars. This year, Taylor Swift and Fall Out Boy are slated to perform.
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Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.